Using the HSL Tool

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Adjust specific colors with HSL.



What is HSL?

The HSL toolmceclip0.jpg allows you to modify specific colors in an image. H stands for Hue, which refers to the character of the color itself, S stands for Saturation, which refers to the intensity or colorfulness of a color, and L stands for Lightness, which refers to the lightness of a color. The tool allows you to select red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple, and adjust the H, S, and L of each color individually.

Where it is:


Why would you use it?

Color itself is attached to a wide range of emotions for us simply based on our own life experience and associations with various colors. Therefore, altering, emphasizing, and de-emphasizing colors can change the emotional impact of an image. Additionally, cameras often do not match either what we saw or how we remember a scene. Tools like White Balance mceclip0.jpgand Saturation mceclip1.jpgaffect all colors, but when only one color is incorrect, the HSL toolmceclip0.jpg allows you to make more precise adjustments.


Here we change the Hue of the greens in this image, which changes the color of the plants to a more yellow-ish green, and then a more blue-ish green.


Here, we see the effects of saturation as we lower the saturation on the yellows, making them much more muted. Next we boost the saturation on the yellows, making them even more vibrant.



Here, we first darken the skies by lowering the lightness of the blues to make the subject stand out more. Next, we increase the lightness of the blues to give the image a brighter feel without actually brightening the entire image.

Tips & Tricks:

1. Each color in the HSL toolmceclip0.jpg has a range in the color wheel that it affects. Often the color that you expect an object to be is not the color it actually is, or it may straddle a border between two colors in the HSL toolmceclip0.jpg. Completely desaturating a channel is a great way to tell what parts of the image it is affecting.


In the image above, we would probably call the handbag orange. However, when we completely desaturate the Oranges we see that much of the bag is not affected. By switching to the Reds and desaturating, we see much of the bag turned gray. Through this, we see that the bag actually straddles the border between red and orange, so both regions affect parts of it.

3. If a color is already near the maximum possible saturation, the saturation control will have a small effect.

4. Darkening a color can also increase it’s intensity and texture. Blue skies are especially a common target for darkening via HSL mceclip0.jpg.


5. While the orange HSL region can be effective on skin, the Skin Tool mceclip3.jpg has a broader range and may produce more natural looking results on skin.


Here we revisit an example from the Skin tool guide. First, we try to correct red skin with the orange HSL region, but since the skin falls too far into red, orange has no effect on the subject's face. Moving to the Skin tool mceclip2.jpg, we see the skin gracefully corrected with the broader reach of this tool.


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