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Photoshop Tip: Color Range in Hue/Saturation

What to do when hues overlap By Dave Nagel
In our last Photoshop tutorial, we desaturated an image of all but a single color to create a nostalgic photo effect. For the particular image we used, the process was simple, since the object we left saturated was the only one of that particular hue in the image. But what happens when there are elements in your photo composed of similar hues to the object you're trying to isolate?

In that case, the process is similar. But there are adjustments you can make in the Hue/Saturation dialog to help narrow the range of affected hues. Before we get started, if you have not done so already, you might benefit from the previous installment in this tutorial series, which you can access by clicking here.

The problem
Now, here's the problem. Previously we worked with this image.

And we to desaturated everything but the bright red boat, as seen below.

Bet us say that, in addition to keeping the red boat red, we want to keep the yellow oars yellow. What happens when we use the technique outlined previously?


Now that's a problem. And that's owing to the fact that the grass in the image contains a lot of yellow. So how can you use a similar technique to the one we used previously keep the oars yellow while still desaturating the grass--and all with a minimum of manual cleanup?

The solution
So here's what we're going to do. We're going to start with exactly te same technique we used last time around. That is:

1. Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.
2. Set the Master saturation to -99.
3. Set the Red saturation to +100.

Now,  in addition to this, we'll also resaturate the Yellow channel. So, in the Hue/Saturation dialog, select Yellow from the pull-down menu.

Then bump up the saturation value to +100.

Now it's time to make some adjustments. Down at the bottom of the Hue/Saturation dialog, you see a double hue gradient bar. And between the two bars, there's a little thing down there that's actually a slider.

You can use this slider to adjust the hues affected by your Hue/Saturation adjustment. And furthermore, you can change the range of hues that are affected by your adjustment. (Pictured above is the default range for yellow.)

Here's how it works. The slider pictured above actually has four handles on it. The inner handles on either side of the darker gray bar are used to control the "hard" range of hues affected by the adjustment. To narrow the range, just click on the handles and drag them inward.

This will have a small impact on the effect so far. Next, there are the out handles. These are used to control the "soft" range of hues affected by your adjustment. So now grab these handles and drag them inward until you really narrow down the range of hues affected by your adjustment, while leaving the main object saturated. This will take a little finesse, but try moving around the slider in addition to adjusting the handles to get exactly what you're looking for.

So now we have the oars resaturated. There's still a tiny bit of yellow in the grasses showing, but we can fix this up with a little simple, manual selection/desaturation, as we discussed in the previous article.

Next time around, we'll look at a method for tinting the gray areas of this photo without affecting the colored areas--all using "live" adjustment layers and with no manual masking/selecting whatsoever.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about Photoshop--from the most simple to the most complex--be sure to visit me in the Adobe Photoshop forum at DMN Forums by clicking here.

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Related Keywords:photoshop, adobe photoshop, tinting, desaturate, saturation, colors, tutorial, hue/saturation, nostalgia, photos

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