Color Grading explained
PhotoPlus : The Canon Magazine|October 2021
James Paterson shows you how to use this powerful tinting tool
James Paterson

THE MISSION

Learn how to use Camera Raw’s Color Grading panel to tint your photos

Time needed 15 minutes

Skill Level Beginner

Kit needed Photoshop CC

The recently introduced Color Grading panel is available in Photoshop’s Camera Raw plugin and Lightroom, and it’s one of the most powerful toning tools on offer. Several of the other color tools in Camera Raw are geared towards correcting unwanted color shifts, but Color Grading is different. Rather than correcting, it instead invites you to add creative color shifts of your own in order to give an image a certain look or mood. As such, Color Grading is one of the best tools to use for boosting the atmosphere of a scene.

Color Grading is a replacement for the old Split Toning panel and, like it’s predecessor, it lets you add individual colour tints to different parts of the tonal range of your image, based on brightness values. But while the Split Toning panel only allowed for two-color tints, with Color Grading we instead choose three. So as well as tinting shadows and highlights, we can also shift colors in the mid-tones (of course, if you’d rather use two colors then you can just leave the mid tones untouched). Alongside the three intuitive colour wheels in the Color Grading panel you’ll also find a global wheel that makes it easy to add a single colour shift. What’s more, if we delve into each individual colour wheel we’ll find further options for tweaking the colours and shifting the balance between them.

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