Adjust saturation and hue

The Hue/Saturation command adjusts the hue (color), saturation (purity), and lightness of the entire image or of individual color components in an image.

Use the Hue slider to add special effects, to color a black and white image (like a sepia effect), or to change the range of colors in a portion of an image.

Changing colors in an image using the Hue/Saturation command
Changing colors in an image using the Hue/Saturation command

A. Original B. Entire image changed to sepia using the Colorize option C. Magenta colors targeted in the Edit menu and changed using the Hue slider 

Use the Saturation slider to make colors more vivid or more muted. For example, you could add a color punch to a landscape by saturating the colors in it. Or, tone down a distracting color, like a vivid red sweater in a portrait.

Adjusting color saturation
Before and after adjusting color saturation

Use the Lightness slider with the other adjustments to lighten or darken a portion of an image. Take care not to use it on an entire image—this adjustment reduces the overall tonal range.

Change color saturation or hue

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Hue/Saturation.
    • Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation, or open an existing Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.
    • The two color bars in the dialog box represent the colors in their order on the color wheel. The upper bar shows the color before the adjustment; the lower bar shows how the adjustment affects all hues at full saturation.
  2. In the Edit drop-down menu, choose which colors to adjust:
    • Choose Master to adjust all colors at once.
    • Choose one of the other preset color ranges listed for the color you want to adjust. An adjustment slider appears between the color bars, which you can use to edit any range of hues.
  3. For Hue, enter a value or drag the slider until the colors appear as you want.

    The values displayed in the text box reflect the number of degrees of rotation around the color wheel from the pixel’s original color. A positive value indicates clockwise rotation, a negative value counterclockwise rotation. Values range from –180 to +180.

  4. For Saturation, enter a value or drag the slider to the right to increase the saturation or to the left to decrease it. Values range from –100 to +100.

  5. For Lightness, enter a value or drag the slider to the right to increase the lightness or to the left to decrease it. Values range from –100 to +100. Be careful when using this slider on an entire image. It will reduce the tonal range of the overall image.

  6. Click OK. Or, to cancel your changes and start over, hold down Alt (Option in Mac OS), and click Reset.

Modify the range of Hue/Saturation sliders

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Hue/Saturation.
    • Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation, or open an existing Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.
  2. Choose an individual color from the Edit menu.
  3. Do any of the following to the adjustment slider:
    • Drag one of the triangles to adjust the amount of color fall-off without affecting the range.
    • Drag one of the gray bars to adjust the range without affecting the amount of color fall-off.
    • Drag the gray center part to move the entire adjustment slider, selecting a different color area.
    • Drag one of the vertical white bars next to the dark gray center part to adjust the range of the color component. Increasing the range decreases the color fall-off, and vice versa.
    • To move the color bar and the adjustment slider bar together, Ctrl-drag (Command-drag in Mac OS) the color bar.
    Adjustment slider
    Adjustment slider

    A. Adjusts color fall-off without affecting range B. Adjusts range without affecting color fall-off C. Adjusts the range of color component D. Moves entire slider 
    • If you modify the adjustment slider so that it falls into a different color range, the name changes to reflect this. For example, if you choose Yellow and alter its range so that it falls in the red part of the color bar, the name changes to Red 2. You can convert up to six of the individual color ranges to varieties of the same color range (for example, Red 1 through Red 6).

    Note:

    By default, the color range selected when you choose a color component is 30° wide, with 30° color fall-off on either side. Setting the fall-off too low can produce banding in the image.

  4. To edit the range by choosing colors from the image, select the color picker, and click the image. Use the color picker + tool to add to the range; use the color picker – tool to subtract from the range.

    While the color picker tool is selected, you can also press Shift to add to the range or press Alt (Option in Mac OS) to subtract from it.

Adjust the color of skin tone

The Adjust Color For Skin Tone command adjusts the overall color in a photo to bring out more natural skin tones. When you click an area of skin in the photo, Photoshop Elements adjusts the skin tone—as well as all other colors in the photo. You can manually adjust the brown and red colors separately to achieve the final color you want.

Adjusting skin tone
Original (top), and after adjusting skin tone (bottom)

  1. Open the photo and select the layer that needs correction.

  2. Choose Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Color For Skin Tone.
  3. Click an area of skin.

    Photoshop Elements automatically adjusts the colors in the image. Changes might be subtle.

    Note:

    Make sure Preview is selected so that you can see the color changes as they occur.

  4. (Optional) Drag any of the following sliders to fine-tune the correction:

    Tan

    Increases or decreases the level of brown in skin tones.

    Blush

    Increases or decreases the level of red in skin tones.

    Temperature

    Changes the overall color of skin tones.

  5. When you’re finished, click OK. Or, to cancel your changes and start over, click Reset.

Adjust saturation in isolated areas

The Sponge tool changes the color saturation of an area.

Adjust saturation in isolated areas
Increasing saturation by scrubbing with the Sponge tool

  1. Select the Sponge tool.

  2. Set tool options in the options bar:

    Mode

    Increases or decreases color saturation. Choose Saturate to intensify the color’s saturation. In grayscale, Saturate increases contrast. Choose Desaturate to dilute the color’s saturation. In grayscale, Desaturate decreases contrast.

    Brush

    Sets the brush tip. Click the arrow next to the brush sample, choose a brush category from the Brushes pop‑up menu, and then select a brush thumbnail.

    Size

    Sets the size of the brush, in pixels. Drag the Size slider or enter a size in the text box.

    Flow

    Sets the rate of saturation change. Drag the Flow pop‑up slider or enter a value in the text box.

  3. Drag over the part of the image you want to modify.

Change the color of an object

The Replace Color command replaces a specific color in an image. You can set the hue, saturation, and lightness of the replacement color.

  1. Choose Enhance > Adjust Color > Replace Color.

  2. Select a display option under the image thumbnail:

    Selection

    Displays the mask, which looks like a black and white version of the image, in the preview box.

    Image

    Displays the image in the preview box. This option is useful when you are working with a magnified image or have limited screen space.

  3. Click the color picker button, and then click the color you want to change in the image or in the preview box. Use the color picker + tool to add colors, or use the color picker – tool to remove colors to keep them from changing.

  4. Drag the Fuzziness slider to control the degree to which related colors are included in the selection.
  5. Do one of the following to specify a new color:
    • Drag the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness sliders (or enter values in the text boxes).
    • Click the Results box and specify a new color in the Color Picker, then click OK.
  6. To cancel your changes and start over, hold down Alt (Option in Mac OS), and click Reset.

Precisely convert to black and white

The Convert To Black And White command lets you choose a specific conversion style to be applied to the image. This is unlike the Remove Color command, which automatically converts to black and white for you.

In the Convert To Black And White dialog box, the available image styles help you compare and choose from different conversion presets. Select a style and then use the available sliders to fine-tune the conversion.

Convert to black and white
Convert to black and white

A. Displays Before and After views B. Select a style C. Adjust intensity 
  1. Open an image, and select an area or layer to convert. If you do not select an area or layer, the entire image is converted.

    Note:

    To experiment with black and white conversion while preserving the original photo, convert a duplicate layer.

  2. Choose Enhance > Convert To Black And White.
  3. Select a style option that reflects the content of your image (for example, Portraits or Scenic Landscape).
  4. Drag the Adjustment Intensity sliders to adjust red, green, blue, or contrast.

    Note:

    The Adjustment Intensity sliders for red, green, and blue don’t colorize your image; they simply include more or less data from the original color channels in the new black and white image.

  5. To convert your image, click OK. Or, to cancel your changes and start over, click Reset. To close the Convert To Black And White dialog box, click Cancel.

Automatically convert to black and white

The Remove Color command converts to black and white by assigning equal red, green, and blue values to each pixel in an RGB image. The overall brightness of each pixel remains constant. This command has the same effect as setting Saturation to -100 in the Hue/Saturation dialog box.

  1. To adjust a specific image area, select it with one of the selection tools. If no selection is made, the adjustment applies to the entire image.
  2. Choose Enhance > Adjust Color > Remove Color.

Add custom presets for black and white conversion

You can manually add custom presets to the black and white converter by editing a specific text file.

Note:

Adding custom presets for conversion to black and white is a task for advanced users.

  1. Close the Photoshop Elements, and navigate to the folder that contains the bwconvert.txt file:

    • Windows: [Photoshop Elements installation directory]\Required\bwconvert.txt
    • Mac OS: /Applications/Adobe Photoshop Elements/Support Files/Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor.app/Contents/Required/bwconvert.txt. Command-click Adobe Photoshop Elements and select Show Package Contents. Navigate to the folder Contents/Required.
  2. Open the bwconvert.txt file in a plain text editor (such as Notepad).
  3. Following the same naming convention as the presets already in the file, add your new preset and give it a unique name.
  4. Save the file (keeping the original filename).
  5. Start the Photoshop Elements and choose Enhance > Convert To Black And White to view the presets.

Add color to a grayscale image

You can colorize an entire grayscale image, or select areas to colorize with different colors. For example, you can select a person’s hair and color it brown, and then add pink to the person’s cheeks after making another selection.

Note:

If the image you are coloring is in grayscale mode, convert it into RGB by choosing Image > Mode > RGB Color.

  1. Choose Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Hue/Saturation, or Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation to work on an adjustment layer.

  2. Select Colorize. If the foreground color isn’t black or white, Photoshop Elements converts the image into the hue of the current foreground color. The lightness value of each pixel does not change.
  3. Use the Hue slider to select a new color if desired. Use the Saturation slider to adjust the saturation. Then click OK.

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