Selective Color in Photoshop, is it the best-kept secret?

7/14/2017 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments

Selective Color in Photoshop, is it the best-kept secret?

The selective color adjustment layer is a tool that can make your images pop off the page. Almost every week someone emails me and says, "Blake, how do you make your photos pop in Photoshop?" Blake usually responds with a multitude of answers because that is the most difficult question to answer.

You have to assume that by "pop" they mean to make them more exhilarating or attractive. Since the beginning of time, we as humans, have always been attracted to colorful things. Go out into the woods and look around, what do you see? A mix of gray, brown, black, and drab greens. However, when you see a contrasting red berry sticking out of a bush or a lone flower growing next to a tree, you immediately flock to it.

Regarding what I know of humans and the question at hand, "How do you make your images POP," my response is the Selective Color adjustment layer in Photoshop. Before you go running to the HSL layer, hear me out. The HSL Layer is great as a technical tool to get your colors dialed in with the proper hue, saturation, and lightness, but the Selective Color Adjustment Layer is more of a refinement tool.

Selective Color works on the principle of available color and color mixing. It allows you to increase or decrease the percentage of a color within the color in question. For instance, if you have a sunset that is predominantly blue, but you want it to be a bit warmer, you can go into the Selective Color adjustment layer and modify the percentage of the colors available in the given color.

Does that mean you are changing the hue in the color blue? Absolutely, but it is not as heavy handed as the HSL adjustment layer because it does not allow you to change the color property by rotating it around the color wheel. Instead, it removes or adds the percentage of the available color within the color. As you experiment with it, you can go into the color blue, then change the red to 100%. It does not change the color blue to 100% red it just boosts the available red within the color blue.

Are you confused yet?

Good! Watch this video tutorial, download the actions, and experiment with it on your own and I am sure you will realize soon enough why Selective Color is one of my go-to options for making my images "pop."

In this tutorial, I will show you how to use selective color to boost sunsets, make grass a little greener, and make the cinematic effect. Don't forget to experiment on your own and couple the Selective Color Adjustment Layer with Blend If, Opacity, Blend Modes, and Masks!

You may also like: The Color vs Luminosity Blend Mode in Photoshop

About Blake Rudis : is a High Dynamic Range photography blog dedicated to being a 100% free HDR resource. There are a plethora of tutorials, tips, and great photos to stroll through. After checking out this Youtube channel, why don't you head on over to!

Text, image and video via f64 Academy

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