(1 to 100 of 132 replies)
[Back to the Future] 12:30pm, 13 May 2006
Tutorial: Make your colors pop!

Tutorial: Make your colors pop!

Tutorial: Make your colors pop!

Tutorial: Make your colors pop!

Tutorial: Make your colors pop!
(1 to 100 of 132 replies)
simplyjake PRO 11 years ago
Great tutorial. worked Great for me. One Addendum would be to Do the curves adjustment as a layer or on a Duplicate layer. This way you can adjust the effect with either the fade tool or going back into the Curves layer.
wirehead PRO 11 years ago
Or you can just use Velvia.
Adam Holte 11 years ago
Nice Tutorial. I haven't done much work with Lab Color. Very interesting.
DWinton PRO 11 years ago
nice. I've been playing with lab color recently and this is a great addition.
Junjan 11 years ago
radiann 11 years ago
I was having no luck with this entire series of shots taken of these unique cacti until I tried this. What a difference! Thanks!
Effect of the photoday
Feileacán 11 years ago
Interesting stuff, I'll be experimenting with this as soon as possible!
Minimuffin 11 years ago
great tutorial
Mike Cohn PRO 11 years ago
I've tried your technique and it certainly does work. My question is, what advantages does this offer over the simpler approach of using the saturation slider within the Hue/Saturation adjustment function?
WingNut 11 years ago
Great tutorial...Can someone please post a quick crash course on lab color? What is it good for? when should it be used? I generally use RGB on my photos, and CMYK on work that goes to press. Come to think of it, most photo labs use die-sub printers to print out digital photos. Does it make sense to use the CMYK model in that case?
Thanks in advance.
StarrGazr PRO 11 years ago
Great!! Another fun thing to learn! Thanks Dave!! So...when's the book coming out?
aids_cruz 11 years ago
Tried it and it works great!! Thanks for this Tutorial.

StarrGazr PRO 11 years ago
The One that Tried to Get AwayCruzin'

Just the thing I have been looking for!
[Back to the Future] 11 years ago
Wow Tracy, that's a stunning yellow! And I like the frame - nice shot. Book? Maybe someday. I downloaded Booksmart and started messing around with a book template - check out www.blurb.com/ - anybody can publish photos and text with this thing.
[Back to the Future] 11 years ago
@Wingnut - if you're really interested, check out this reading group - and order Dan Margulis' book on Photoshop LAB color on Amazon. That's what I did - no regrets. Awesome colorspace!
[Back to the Future] 11 years ago
@Mike Cohn - I don't have all the answers, but Margulis writes: "There is a whole world of LAB that is not so widely known, and which offers really, really better results than any other method." Simple answer, LAB color space has broader gamut. You get complete control of color correction. I'll never go back!
splitlenz PRO 11 years ago
Ahh this is truely a great great tutorial. thank you so much. I find myself using this technique now for many many many photos lol. This is just too great of a technique to pass up on any photo for me. Ahh i just love it.
Harshit Sekhon 11 years ago
wow this is so cool ... my compact cam suffers from the inability to get the color saturation right ... looks like I'm going to be using this a lot ... thanks matey!
WingNut 11 years ago
Thanks for the pointer Macaddict! This certainly opens up a whole new avenue for me.
Thanks again
Brian C Carter 11 years ago
Another good thing to do with LAB is to take the A channel and go Apply Image > Overlay to itself., then do the same with the B. This will push the colors as well. If you invert the channels while doing it, you'll neutralize the image. Sometimes if there's a cast, I'll neutralize it to get the cast out and then apply in overlay without inverting to push the colors that are left, but this only works sometimes.
*jasper* 11 years ago
Moving just one of the edges of the curve the way Macaddict describes gives a colored cast over the photo. So if one wants to adjust blue independently of yellow, one marks a gray point in the 'b' curve. It gives a little more freedom.
*Wizard* 11 years ago
thanks so much!
i just have been practicing ur tutorial and it works great!
Christiaan Leever NL 11 years ago
Hmm, sounds like a great tutorial, but I dont know if this needs to be done via lab colours? I always just use Control M and I adjust the curves as in image 4 (2ndlast image). This seems to give me the same effect as what you describe. My colours almost always pop. Maybe even too much for some :)

I will try it out though, Im curious to see what difference there is between this and only adjusting curves.

simplyjake PRO 11 years ago
BeforePhoenix Of Labor At Night(Verticle Panorama) and afterPhoenix Of Labor2
@Wingnut - Believe it or not, many pro inkjet printers do better with RGB files than CMYK. It depends on the RIP software (Raster Image Processor) that converts digital image data into instructions for the physical jetting of ink. It must convert CMYK files as well as RGB. You'd think CMYK would translate better, but that's not necessarily the case with photos.
balaclava9 PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by balaclava9 (member) 11 years ago




i have a question: this lab color techninque seems to take a primary color and make it more strong in that direction, is that right? i suppose i'll have to read about it.

anyway it looks like flickr's color profile issue is worse here. my edited version in firefox on my color calibrated powerbook g4 looks closer to the tiff file of my "before" viewed in photoshop. they're all sRGB IEC 2.xxxx i guess flickr must strip profiles or firefox ignores them or something.
phdstudent 11 years ago
haha! great. Althought inside I hear a voice screaming to agree with wirehead...
merAtSpain 11 years ago
Yup yup, great tutorial! thank you very much macadict!
willl PRO 11 years ago
Yellow Rose Bud

christine [cbszeto] PRO 11 years ago
Thank you! Thank you! I'm still practicing so these aren't perfect, but they are certainly a lot better than SOOC. Great tutorial-and SO easy to follow.

Going with the rose theme:
2006_05.01 backyard roses (3)

2006_05.01 backyard roses_ps

And fixing indoor lighting:
2006_05.17 Naomi_Kaya

2006_05.17 Naomi.Kaya_ps
Cyron 11 years ago
i guess flickr must strip profiles or firefox ignores them or something.

Every browser ignores colour profiles.

On topic though, I have to say thank you for this tip! I've been using it with great success for a week or so now, and it works wonderfully. Like cbszeto, I've also discovered the nice side effect of easy colour caste correction as well :)
josh.ev9 PRO 11 years ago
Why do I love the technique group? Because of tips like this. This is AWESOME! Thanks!
P!ndaro PRO 11 years ago
Mike Cohn PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Mike Cohn (member) 11 years ago
Where in the workflow do you recommend doing the Lab Color process? For example, before or after other RGB mode adjustments such as levels, curves, etc.?
altermativ Posted 11 years ago. Edited by altermativ (member) 11 years ago
Thanks macaddict! I think I'm going to start using it on most of my pictures. I just tried it on various photos (indoors, outdoors, with flash or not) and it enhances most of them.
Actually, when I look at the photo before it was edited, it just seems dull and grey.

I even did a script in Photoshop CS to automatize the process. My steps:
-Convert to Lab
-Duplicate current layer
-Draw 2 points on the a and b curves channels, respectively +100/+127 and -100/-127
-Set opacity of the top layer to 50% (Too much color popping seems unrealistic to me)
-Convert to RGB and flatten

and POP!
Cyron 11 years ago
Is there a reaoson you use layers and opacity instead of adjusting the a and b curves to get a more realistic "pop" altermativ?
altermativ 11 years ago
I can always go back in the history and change the opacity easily.

Messing with the curves is just not my thing, the interface doesn't seem to work as I want it to (try inputting "-100" in the input box of the 'a' curve to understand what I mean).

But you're right, it can be done with similar results =)
Bakari Chavanu 11 years ago
Seriously effective. Thanks for posting this.

I tried recording recording an action in PS CS2 for this process, but it didn't work. Is writing a script and recording a action the same thing?
i was about to ask about an action. no luck?

great tutorial....thanks.
altermativ 11 years ago
As I answered to Bakari (check your messages), I shared my action on an upload site. It might not be around for long ( I think it gets deleted after 7 days of inactivity), but here it is:

aestheticheart 11 years ago
this is why i need photoshop.
joopbie 11 years ago
my god this is like a life saver to many dull pictures..thanks macaddict :)
onlyb1 11 years ago
Wonderful tutorial ! Thanx a million for sharing !!!
G0Da PRO 11 years ago
WOW. I went throught and did this just as you said and I can not even believe the color difference. Its a bit much but im sure with some practice I will be using this all the time Thank you so much WOW>
Guerito PRO 11 years ago
Thanks a lot for this tutorial! I posted this before I found this thread:

Muy Bonita

This is the same butterfly (yet not the same picture), but with this technique applied:

Bluer Than Blue
8thcross 11 years ago
Great! now if this only works in Elements....
RastaRicanStudio Posted 11 years ago. Edited by RastaRicanStudio (member) 11 years ago
@usathyan, get the curves plug in for elements, google is your friend...or search elements group here on flickr, they have a link to the site. Peace
BTW the LAB tutorial also works with B/W
RastaRicanStudio 11 years ago
The L*a*b color model separates color and luminosity completely. This allows us to
isolate tone and color manipulations. Neither RGB nor CMYK can do that. All of the
luminosity in L*a*b is captured in the Lightness channel. The color channels are the “a”
and “b” channels, with the “a” channel placing a color along a magenta/green axis and
the “b” channel along a yellow/blue axis. Peace
from www.thelightsright.com
RastaRicanStudio 11 years ago
get your curves and layers through this group for PSE
Diann* PRO 11 years ago
This is just excellent...thank you.
Capture Queen ™ 11 years ago
Wow,,thank u
RastaRicanStudio Posted 11 years ago. Edited by RastaRicanStudio (member) 11 years ago
To all the PSE users I read in the PSE group that there are snoobs out there..if you don't have CS2 you ain't a real whatever. I hope noone feels that way here. If there is anything I can help with I'll try.
It is not how big your pixel is but how you manipulate it.
Not how much your program is worth but how much joy/bliss you produce with it. All the programs are tools. The biggest computer is your brain and you are only limited by your imagination/software. Peace/Paz/Skennen
Bob۞Who Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Bob۞Who (member) 11 years ago
Very cool lesson. Thanks!

Only now I gotta get some chinese food.
J o n R [deleted] 11 years ago
The results of this look good but I'm a bit of a numbnutz when it comes to colour spaces. If I send these for printing e.g. online, would it still come out alright?
Mike Cohn PRO 11 years ago
You'll have to convert back to RGB before you can save as JPEG.
OPTheory 11 years ago
That is one awesome presentation of a tutorial!

I'll have to try it sometime.
Viton 11 years ago
Really nice tutorial! Thanks!
Trevor Nerbas 11 years ago
wow.. thank you for this tutorial! i never knew of, or used, lab colour before... i got some amazing results in minutes that i usually have to work on for an hour.
cgrossmeier 11 years ago
Here is a great example...

Auntie K PRO 11 years ago
I love using lab colors! Your tutorial is a great way to create a nice, subtle but effective saturation.

I used lab colors to create super blue skies like this one...

Hillside Flowers
Speising 11 years ago
whats the difference or advantage of this to using the saturation and contrast sliders, anyway?
Trevor Nerbas Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Trevor Nerbas (member) 11 years ago
here's the photo i wrote about above that i used this technique on.. i'm really pleased with the results and will use this method on future images.
Kamloops Clouds & Bridge & River & Rocks & Hills & etc.. etc..
ksquires 11 years ago
Speising - there's a huge difference, but it's really difficult to explain (at least for a non-expert like me).
I highly recommend "Photoshop LAB color" by Dan Margulis - I'm halfway though, and it's already revolutionized my workflow.
0 W8ing 11 years ago
I used Lab color on this one, too, specifically for its ability to drive the colors to extremes.
Vicky Brock 11 years ago
Thank you for this great tip - this is my first attempt (I'm a novice). I don't have Photoshop but I used The GIMP and followed the tutorial the same way. I'm really going to do some experiementing with this technique!

After bee shot
shinryuu 11 years ago
@balaclava9 and everybody else: Read this. This will answer why firefox messes with color profiles. Here
patrick wilken Posted 11 years ago. Edited by patrick wilken (member) 11 years ago
The tutorial above is helpful, but sometimes you want to really bring out colors that are very close together to do so follow the tutorial as above, but move the a and b sliders in LAB until they are almost vertical lines around some neutral point you have selected. At this point the image will look insanely brilliant as PS tries to display what are impossible colors for your monitor. Now close out of the curves layer, and tone things down by reducing its opacity to say 10%. You'll now find that very nicely separated colors impossible/very difficult to achieve in any other manner. Here is an example using this technique.

Before LAB:

me no curves

After LAB:

at the factory
patrick wilken Posted 11 years ago. Edited by patrick wilken (member) 10 years ago
There was a discussion on LAB color correction on another forum a few months ago. If you are interested have a look at LAB color correction..

I think the true value of LAB is not simply to make your colors go POP, but also to go BUBBLE, SQUEEK or whatever else you want them to do. The real virtue of the colorspace is that luminance is indepedent from hue so you can play with one rather than the other.
photoplasia [deleted] 11 years ago
Just a comment - there are colour-space aware browsers - if you use a Mac.


Safari, Omni Web, and *gasp* IE for the Mac are all colour space aware.
Mr Skel 11 years ago
My attempt:

WatchThisSpace  - used the Labocolor
John Goldsmith 11 years ago

South Beach
SuniL. 11 years ago
great tutorial - fantastic results
_AM_ 11 years ago
Wow....great tutorial
cgrossmeier Posted 11 years ago. Edited by cgrossmeier (member) 11 years ago
TIP: If you want to selectively make a section pop, use Layer Adjustements in Photoshop. Apply your color changes, and then add a mask to the layer adjustment. I mask out the portions of the photo that I do not want corrected.

In the example below, I masked out the building and used the color lab technique on the sky. The blue is less gray and the clouds now POP.
Brian Stucki Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Brian Stucki (member) 11 years ago
Altermativ, any chance of getting that action posted again? If you can get it to me, I'll host it for others.

I just learned how to make an action so I made this my first project. I uploaded it to my site to offer to my readers. ( www.freemacphoto.com/making-the-colors-in-your-photo-pop/ )

Thanks again for the great tip!
Andy_on_Flickr 11 years ago
thanks for the amazing tips!
this is the result :
Earlier that day ...
[Back to the Future] 11 years ago
That's a great photo! Those colors pop! :)
Jose+Euge Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Jose+Euge (member) 11 years ago
@macaddict: again, thanks for the tutorial. I'm changing some of my previous photos. I found this "color pop" very good for landscapes. I'm not yet ready to move to a 100% color enhance, but I'mk on my way... ;-)

Galicia - Barreiros-Benquerencia - 1132
[Back to the Future] 11 years ago
I like the blues and greens here Jose-Miguel. I'm glad the technique is working for you. You're right too, it's not for every shot, but t really does well with sky and field.
ficus Posted 11 years ago. Edited by ficus (member) 11 years ago
Thanks for the tutorial. Worked well on this image...


Steps into the water


green steps lab colour
fedewild Posted 11 years ago. Edited by fedewild (member) 11 years ago
my first guess of this cool tecnique :

wilkiecoco Posted 11 years ago. Edited by wilkiecoco (member) 11 years ago
Incredible tip!! I've always wanted to make my colours pop, so I tried your tut on a dull photo, and compared it to my usual technique of simply upping the saturation. Here are the results:

Original photo:

Yellow Ferrari
wilkiecoco 11 years ago
Increased colours using Hue/Saturation:

wilkiecoco Posted 11 years ago. Edited by wilkiecoco (member) 11 years ago
Using Lab Colour - Your Technique:


What a difference!!! Thanks for this very very useful tutorial!!!
Marius Popovici [deleted] 11 years ago

wilkiecoco 11 years ago
I don't think anyone has answered Mike's question. I'm also curious as to how the third step in the process relates to the normal level/curves adjustments we always do. Is that final curve in the luminosity channel supposed to replace the normal highlight/shadow/contrast adjustments we normally perform at the start of the workflow?
Kimfoto 10 years ago
I love this effect! I am palying around with some wedding shots-very cool! Thanks.
Nelson Minar 10 years ago
I just uploaded my Photoshop actions for doing this; you can download them here. I also made a blog post about it. One thing to be aware of; you're losing detail in the extremely colorful ends of your pictures when you do this. Not often a problem, but it's not a loss-free transformation.
patrick wilken 10 years ago
Wilkiecoco: To answer your question I only do luminance and color adjustments in LAB now. I convert back to RGB only save the image and upload.

Nelson: I am not sure why this technique should definitely make you lose detail. What people should be aware of is that LAB is a much larger color space than sRGB. So it very possible to create impossible sRGB colors using this technique so in the conversion back to sRGB you may lose details if you push things too far.

I strongly recommend Margulis' book if people like this technique. The way it is described above is a very poor cousin to what you can actually achieve with a good knowledge of LAB.
Nelson Minar 10 years ago
In the actions I posted, I clamp 0-10 to 0 and 245-255 to 255 in the a and b channel. Something's got to be lost there, no? It just may not be anything you care about. I agree there's a lot more subtlety possible with Lab colour manipulation. Part of what's appealing about the method posted in this thread is it's a nice simple introduction.
patrick wilken Posted 10 years ago. Edited by patrick wilken (member) 10 years ago
nelson: why do you clamp 0-10 to 0 and 245-255 to 255? I don't really understand this as a and b goes from -127 to +127 in Lab (0 being no color - black/white/grey, postiive a's being magenta, negative a's being green, positive b being yellow, and negative b's being blue). It's very unlikely that any color someone deals with is going to be in the range (127-117) so maxing out at 117 is unlikely to have any effect on the final color range. What you are doing is increasing the slopes of the a and b curves, and so colors much closer to 0 get shifted corresponding further apart, but there is no reason why any colors should definitely max out.
Nelson Minar 10 years ago
Sorry, I mean to say I clamp 117-127 to 127 and -128:-118 to -128. I don't understand the Lab space well enough to have an intuition about what parts of my photos (if any) are likely to be there. So what sort of damage to the photo could this transform do? Other than making garish colours, that is :-)
patrick wilken 10 years ago
Nelson: what I am staying is that it's very unlikely any of your original colors were anywhere near 117 plus/minus so they aren't going to be clipped. LAB is a very large color space. What is more likely is that colors are going to be pushed in places that are not representable in sRGB or CMYK, so when you transform back into sRGB you may well lose information that way, but not from clipping them to 117.
rpgwhitelock Posted 10 years ago. Edited by rpgwhitelock (member) 10 years ago
ksquires 10 years ago
that's probably the best book on the subject.
RastaRicanStudio 10 years ago
LAB Saturation Actions
@ this site you can download an action for using lab colors and other action. Peace

Author: Alessandro Di Sciascio


Posted: 9/23.2006


I love subtlety in actions, and these actions deliver it. The set contains two actions. One boosts the saturation of all colors through an LAB boost, the other does the same, but protects skin colors by isolating them. Both operate on a layer at 60% opacity, giving you considerable control.
decade_null 10 years ago
Nelson Minar: If you edit a and b channels using Levels-tool (instead of Curves as in this tutorial) it shows a histogram of those channels. I haven't yet seen a photo where there is anything in the edges of that histogram. So clipping the top and bottom of those channels doesn't really lose any information. (At least in theory. Monitors use RGB and printing CMYK instead of LAB colour. Converting the image back to those modes may lose information..)
[Back to the Future] Posted 10 years ago. Edited by [Back to the Future] (member) 10 years ago
@brfuk - right, I produced this tutorial in Comic Life after reading about the technique in Margulis' book. Check out this reading group - and order Dan Margulis' book on Photoshop LAB color on Amazon. That's what I did ~ no regrets.

Other tutorials I have put together.
calcitrate 10 years ago
wow, that's a great tutorial! thanks!

how much different is this from jumping into levels and bringing in the
highs/lows of the individual channels?
patrick wilken 10 years ago
There was a discussion on LAB color correction on another forum a few months ago which might be of interest: LAB color correction.
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