How to fine tune colour in Lightroom: 6 tricks for stronger, bolder images

How to fine tune colour in Lightroom: 6 advanced edits for stronger images

Go beyond simple saturation tweaks and learn how to selectively enhance, adjust and alter colours in our latest Adobe Lightroom tutorial.

How to fine tune colour in Lightroom: 6 advanced edits for stronger images

Colour can be a tricky thing to get right in digital imaging. First there’s the issue of white balance, then we have to decide the intensity of the colours, before thinking about selective boosting or altering of different areas.

The aim is usually to create strong, impactful colours while keeping oversaturation and gaudiness in check.

Adobe Lightroom gives you a number of options for controlling, boosting and adjusting colours.

We can correct white balance with the Temperature and Tint controls, then go on to alter colours, either by making simple adjustments to Saturation and Vibrance, or by delving deeper into the colour options within the powerful HSL panel.

This houses three tabs – Hue, Saturation and Luminosity – each containing eight colour sliders. They have far-ranging uses.

You could lower the blue slider in Luminance to darken a sky, for example, or knock all but one of the Saturation sliders to -100 for a quick spot-colour effect.

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A quick change
Here we’ve used the Hue sliders to change the colour of the model’s top. A quick adjustment to the blue slider in Hue is all that’s required.

But bear in mind that it’s only effective if, like our image here, the colour of the area you want to change isn’t present elsewhere in the image.

For more precise control over specific areas of an image, we can switch to the Adjustment Brush.

With this useful tool, we can paint masks over parts of the image, such as the background, lips or eyes, then use the tool controls to introduce subtle colour shifts. Here’s how it’s done…

SEE MORE: Master Adobe Lightroom in 12 minutes or less

How to fine tune colour in Lightroom: steps 1-2

How to fine tune colour in Lightroom: step 1

01 Fix the white balance
Download our start file and follow along! Go to the Library module, then drag in colour_before.dng and click Import. Head to the Develop module. In the Basic panel, set Temp to 4900 to cool the colours. Next, scroll down to the Tone Curve. Click the Point Curve. Plot an S-shaped curve line with two points, to boost contrast and colour.

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How to fine tune colour in Lightroom: step 2

02 Change the blue top
Go to the HSL/Colour/B&W panel. Click HSL and select the Hue tab. Click the target at the top left of the panel, then drag over the blue top to change the colour. We’ve gone for a deeper blue here with Aqua at +16 and Blue at +66. Next, click Saturation and set Aqua to +21.

Expert Tip
Our eyes are drawn to light, so darkening the corners of a frame with a vignette has the effect of drawing the eye inwards. You can add a vignette with the Post-Crop Vignette control found in the Effects panel.

The Amount slider controls the strength of the effect, while options like Midpoint, Roundness and Feather let you customise the shape and reach of the vignette. Lightroom 5 users can also make vignettes with the Radial Filter tool.

Hold Ctrl/Cmd and double-click with the tool to snap a circular vignette to the edges of the frame.

How to fine tune colour in Lightroom: steps 1-2
How to fine tune colour in Lightroom: steps 3-4
How to fine tune colour in Lightroom: steps 5-6


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  • Wright Truesdell

    Nice tutorial, but rather hard to concentrate on it with all the popup ads.