Tuesday, January 11

Coffee With Amanda: Getting Rid of Pesky Color Casts!

I have a lot going on right now, and I think Amanda and Morgan sensed it because they both sent tutorials my way.  I owe them both big time, and I know you are going to enjoy their tutorials.  I will be posting Morgan's in the next day or two.  So grab a coffee or tea, sit back, and enjoy learning!

So glad to be back here at CoffeeShop, thank you, Rita for having me! Today I am going to share how to tackle getting rid of those pesky color casts on pictures.
Sometimes the color casts are a result of clothing reflecting color onto chins or cheeks, sometimes the casts are from buildings or objects the subject is near, or in the case of the picture I work on in this post, it was the result of the Auto White Balance and the light source available. Whatever the cause, the solution can usually be done with the lasso tool and one or two Hue & Saturation adjustment layers.

Okay, let's get started. I'm working on a picture of my daughter sitting in a basket, not feeling the best (SOOC above) and the Auto White Balance wasn't working the best at that moment so a nasty yellow cast ended up on her arm and cheek. Below are the steps I took to fix the casts.

Step 1: Gave the image quick edit by doing a Levels bump to increase contrast and fix White Balance, did a blank layer and brushed on color to fix undereye circles, then added a warming filter to warm up the image a bit.

Step 2: Activated my Lasso tool and made sure the feather amount was okay. I actually could have used a bit larger feather, but 20 pixels was okay. The feather is important because it helps blend your soon-to-be edit in with the pixels surround it. You don't want a definite stop/start to your edits because that will leave defining edges.

Step 3: Draw around the cast in question. For this image, I wanted to most focus on the cast on her arm.

Step 4: Go to the half black/half white circle in your Layers palette and click it. This circle is at the bottom of the Layers palette in PSE 9 and 8, but at the top of the palette in PSE 7 and 6.

Step 5: Click on the drop down menu in the Hue/Sat box, where it says Master and go to the color that is the problem. With this image it is the yellows, so that is what I chose. I then moved the Hue slider to the left a bit to add in red.

Here is a tip when using the hue slider: if you move it to the left, you add in red and magenta; if you move it to the right, you add in yellow, green and blue. The best thing to do, to improve your skills is just do a lot of practice edits, playing with the hue slider of the different colors and see what happens.

Step 6: Now jump back to the Master and pull down the saturation a bit by moving that slider to the left. Sometimes it helps to lighten also, but that really varies by image.

Step 7: Go back to the Layers palette. Now you will see that your adjustment layer has a black mask. If there are other areas in the picture that have a similar cast, use a soft, white brush and brush over those areas, using brush opacity levels that suit.

Below is an example of the areas I brushed over while on that same layer. (I took that screen shot after I had done the lasso/adjustment steps a few more times to tackle the color casts. If you are curious how I got this screen, I hovered over the mask and pressed the 'alt' key ('option' for a Mac) and clicked the mask. To make it go back to normal, just do the same thing again.

Step 8: Repeat the above steps for other areas with casts, or if you don't feel the one adjustment quite got it. I have found that sometimes using multiple adjustment layers works better than pushing that one Hue/Sat adjustment too far. I have labeled the layers so you can see what cast I was trying to fix with each layer.

I wish I could say "oh, it's simple, just do this and this," but really, sometimes it is a bit of trial and error until you get a feel for using Levels and Hue/Saturation to fix problem areas. Eventually it will be more simple, I promise.

Below is a before/after comparison. The colors in the picture still aren't perfect, but since it is a snap-shot, I wasn't going to worry too much about it. Remember, don't make editing such a chore that it makes you not want to open PSE or worse still, makes you dread picking up your camera.

If you have ever visited Everyday Elements, you know that I am a bit video tutorial crazy, so it should come as no surprise that I have included on with this tutorial. The screen prints are wonderful to print and follow later, but seeing it in action can be what connects the dots for you. If you cannot view the video below, click HERE to be taken to ScreenCast.com where the video is housed.

Thank you for allowing me to spend a little time with you today. I hope this tutorial benefits you in some way. If you have questions, please feel free to leave them at CoffeeShop's FB fan page or Everyday Elements' fan page and I will answer them the best I can.

If you liked this tutorial and would like to stay abreast of happenings at Everyday Elements, subscribe to the monthly newsletter. I usually do a recap of the last month's tutorials, give upcoming workshop dates and announce new happenings and more. Also, there is always a coupon code at the bottom, if you are interested in any workshops or actions I provide.

Meet Amanda! I am a "Pioneer Woman" of sorts, although not nearly as talented, witty or culinarily gifted as the real one. I grew up in the suburbs or on military bases, but ended up in country on a cattle and chicken farm an hour from any sizeable town. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to four children, ages 11 to 4.

My photography journey started a few years ago, and it has quickly become a passion. Most of my subjects are my kids, the cows, my mother-in-law's flowers and my weeds (they're prettier in a picture than in real life). I enjoy editing (with PSE9 and CS5) and continue to learn daily. The tutorials I write are very basic and well documented so that brand new users can learn how to use their editing software.  I also run Everyday Elements (online workshops and video tutorials for PSE users).


  1. Will this work on redish tints as well?

  2. Mad Hatter Mom, yes it will work on casts of most any color. Same process. If you watch the video tutorial I tackle a red cast on her neck.

  3. THANK you SO MUCH for sharing your skills!! =)

  4. This is one of the best tutorials I've seen. And not just because I understood it. That's a really nifty trick. Will do! :D

  5. WOW! That's impressive! The warm wood in my kitchen makes me the queen of color casts (ugh) so this is fantastic! Thank you for sharing! :-)

  6. Thanks for the awesome tips Amanda!

  7. Such a helpful tutorial, I always have this issue! Thanks so much!


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