Saturation or Vibrance? What’s the Difference?

Did you know that there is a difference between the Vibrance and Saturation adjustments in Photoshop? In this tutorial we’re going to cover how to find and use both the Saturation and Vibrance adjustments, but we’ll talk about when you should use either on and what the differences are. You’re going to love it! is our sponsor! Check out the deal for readers right here!

1. One is Smart, One is Dumb


Saturation will boost all of the colors across your entire image in perfect proportion one with another. (Your blues will become 20% more saturated and so will your yellows, reds, pinks, etc…) With Vibrance, you have a little bit of a “smart” saturation adjustment where the subtle colors are targeted first AND some of the red/orange channels are preserved so you don’t destroy the skin color in your image. See the Screenshot to see 100% Saturation boost vs. 100% Vibrance boost.

2. Remove Saturation, Add Vibrance


Most of the time I like to create a Vibrance Adjustment Layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Vibrance) and remove some of the Saturation and then really pump up my Vibrance. This, in many cases, will give you a very pleasing result.

3. Add Saturation on Saturation


Sometimes, as is the case with this image, I want to add Vibrance AND Saturation. I’m going to boost my Vibrance to 100% and also boost my Saturation to about 20% or so. This is going to affect her skin and pump up the orange color in her skin as well. We’re going to remove that with a mask.

4. Masking the Skin (Sort of)


Now that the color across the image has been pumped up, I’m going to select the mask that this Adjustment Layer created and grab the Brush tool (B) and set it to a big soft-edged brush and paint with a dark gray over the model’s skin to lessen the Vibrance/Saturation adjustment happening to her skin.

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

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