Hidden Tricks of Hue & Saturation Adjustment

Hue & Saturation is usually one of the first adjustments that you would have opened and used when you first started learning how to use Photoshop. In this tutorial we’re going to do a bit more of a deep dive into what this adjustment tool can do. We’ll take solid black or white color and make it a rich color, we’ll target individual color channels, and we’ll use tools in the Hue and Saturation dialog to pick very specific and tight color ranges so we change the Hue, Saturation, or Lightness of only a small bit of our image.

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1. Basics of Hue & Saturation


Add a Hue & Saturation Adjustment Layer by going Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. The Hue slider will affect only the colors of the image and shift all the colors around based on each other. The Saturation slider will of course pump up or suck out the saturation of the image and the Lightness slider purely affects the luminosity of your image, this also tends to destroy contrast and depth.

2. Using the “Finger” in the Adjustment Layer


When you double click the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer you will see a finger icon in the upper left corner of the dialog. By selecting this icon you can click and drag on any part of you image to shift the Saturation of just that particular range of colors. PRO TIP: You can Cmd/Ctrl + Click to adjust the Hue of that range of colors.

3. Color Channels


You can select the lower drop down menu and choose any color channel to just work on any of the ranges of color such as “Reds,” Yellows,” Cyans,” etc… This way we can shift color of only a particular part of our image. PRO TIP: Change the “Blues” color channel to quickly edit the sky in your landscape photos!

4. Change Grass Landscape Colors


There is usually a lot of yellow in tree foliage and grass in general. I have a landscape photos here and we’ll add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and jump into the “Yellows” channel and shift the Hue slider to the right to convert yellows to greens and we’ll probably have to reduce saturation and lightness as well.

5. Editing the Sky


Jump over to the “Blues” channel and shift the Hue a little to the left to add some teal to the sky and try either increasing or decreasing the saturation (depending on what you like) and you can even tweak the lightness quite a bit in either direction and not lose a ton of contrast and get the perfect tone.

6. Convert Solid Black or Solid White to Color


Create a new layer and paint a big blob of black into the document and hit Cmd/Ctrl + U to open Hue/Saturation and look to the bottom right corner and tick on the “Colorize” option. I like to pull the Saturation slider all the way up to 100% and then shift the Lightness up (because we need to make our black, not black!)–if you’re colorizing white, pull the Lightness down to make the white, not white. Because we have pushed our saturation way up, we will see where the perfect brightness value is and stop when the color looks right. Lastly, shift the Hue slider to get the hue that you really want.

Be sure to watch the video at the top of this article tutorial for even more detail!

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