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Reveal your true colors in Affinity Photo! How to correct color casts and boost color

Affinity Photo color correction
(Image credit: James Paterson)

Affinity Photo offers an array of excellent color correcting tools. In this tutorial we’ll look at some of the best options, from simple white balance adjustments to powerful selective color tweaks.

Along the way we’ll encounter many of the most useful colour tools and settings in Affinity Photo. Whether you have a photo with a color cast, a portrait with unnatural skin tones, or a color temperature mismatch, the techniques described here are sure to help.

We’ll use adjustment layers to make a series of color tweaks. These allow us to make our changes on separate layers, so we can always go back and tweak things later if need be. At first we’ll use the White Balance command. This lets us correct the yellow cast in our original photo by using a color picker to source a neutral point in the image. If things still don’t look right we can tweak things manually. Whilst doing so, it can be helpful to boost saturation to eye-popping amounts to get an exaggerated idea of the color shifts. From here we can go on to tweak the balance of color using the Colour Balance command, which lets us fine-tune color shifts in the shadows, midtones or highlights.

Finally, we can boost colors, by targeting certain ranges in the shot (we’ve chosen to boost the reds in out example), or by using masks with adjustment layers to isolate and alter specific portions of the image.

Read more: Affinity Photo 1.8 review

Step 1: Set the white balance

To view a full-size version of any of these screenshots, click the gadget in the top right corner. (Image credit: James Paterson)

Open your image into Affinity Photo. If it’s a Raw format image then use the White Balance controls in the Develop Persona (see below). For JPEGs like this, head to the Layers panel in the Photo Persona. Click the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom and choose White Balance.

Step 2: Click on a neutral

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Go to the White Balance dialog and click on ‘Picker’ then click over an area that should be neutral, like the edge of the grey spoon here. If the first click isn’t right, continue clicking over different areas to try to find a neutral spot to sample from, or you can try tweaking the sliders manually.

Step 3: Colour judging trick

(Image credit: James Paterson)

When you are manually adjusting the white balance a temporary saturation boost can help you judge things. Highlight the bottom layer then add an HSL adjustment layer. Set Saturation to 100%. Double-click the White Balance layer and tweak the sliders to remove the cast. We set -56% and +83% for this image.

Step 4: Tweak highlight colour

(Image credit: James Paterson)

You can now turn off the HSL layer. The highlights in our photo look a little blue, so we can tweak them with a Color Balance adjustment. Click the Adjustment Layer icon again and choose Color Balance. Set Tonal Range: Highlights then drag Cyan/Red to the right and Yellow/Blue to the left to warm up the highlights a little bit.

Step 5: Enhance the reds

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Next up, we can use a Selective Color adjustment layer to boost the reds of our spices. After adding the layer, we choose Reds in the color dropdown then increase Magenta to boost the reds in the spices. Next, we target Yellows and increase Cyan and Yellow, as shown.

Step 6: Selective contrast boosts

(Image credit: James Paterson)

We add a Curves adjustment layer then drag an S-shaped curve line, as shown, to boost contrast. We hold Alt and click the Layer Mask icon in the Layers panel to hide the effect, then grab the Brush tool and paint white over the green herbs to selectively reveal the change in contrast.

Quick Tip

One of the big advantages to shooting in Raw is the option this gives you to adjust the white balance and color space after the fact. This is because Raws hold far more colour information than their JPEG counterparts. So we are able to tweak the Temperature and Tint sliders in the Develop Persona – or click on a neutral point in the image with the White Balance tool – with exactly the same results as if we’d set the white balance in-camera before taking the photo. By contrast, attempting to tweak white balance in a JPEG after the fact can often lead to unnatural-looking colour shifts.

About N-Photo magazine

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