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How to Use Color Grading Tool in Lightroom


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Lightroom Color Wheel

How to use color grading tool in lightroom

What is the color grading tool in lightroom and how can you use it do edit your photographs?

The highlights, shadows and midtones can all be adjusted to change for a certain color.

What is the history of the Color grading tool?

Back in the darkroom days, color grading was used for either toning photos. This was a unique way to physically edit your photographs

How does the tool work?

Lightroom Adobe Color Schemes

Looking at the color grading menu you will see the adjust directly below the title color grading. You will then see several circular icons.

The first option will allow you to see the entire process of the highlight, shadow and mid tone at the same time.

The second option is solely for the shadows. The dark parts of the image The third option is solely for the midtones of the image. The fourth option is for the brightest part of the image. The final option is a global option for the entire image.

Global Control allows for fast changes in the entire tone of the image with luminance as well. It is also worth noting that blending and balance don’t affect the toning.

Hue, Saturation, and Luminance

The next few options Include the HSL sliders. Thes HSL sliders are common sliders that stand for Hue, Saturation and Luminance.

The Huerepresents how much unique colored light here is. They can change one color to another. Moving the slider to the right, the hue selector will go around the circle. This is why the limit of the hue is 360.

The saturationrepresents how much intensity and purity the colors. Think of it as adding more saturation will decrease the impurity and add other colors to the image.

Using the color wheel, increasing the saturation will move the point outwards from the center. Luminance can be defined as the way the colors are brightened or darkened. When you slide the luminance to the left you will darken the midtones, shadow or highlight. When you slide the luminance to the right you will brighten those tones respectfully as well.

  • Hue represents how much unique colored light there is
  • Saturation represents how much intensity and purity the color has
  • The Last Few Options

    How to Color grade photos

    You will notice two more options that may not be familiar , blending and balance.

    Blending can be defined as the amount the three different tones ranges blend together. This can include overlapping and creating cohesive colors.

    Starting at blending 0, there will still be some blending but that is the minimum. Blending to 100 will blend all the ranges together.

    Color Grading 2022 Lightroom

    How do you approach color grading?

    Color Grading Batman

    So you have the basic idea of how to use color grading. How do you go about using it? What resources can be used to create the idea you want? How do I make color grading in lightroom look good?

    A few fundamental ideas include the color theories. Color theory is a subject in art to both understand human psychology, how humans perceive images and the desired outlook.

    One of the key aspects to keeping these all together are through different color harmonies.Color Harmonies This image of Batman and Catwomen is a great example of extracting the colors from a scene. This particular scene is colored graded In a monochromatic type of way. The colors were extracted using Adobe Color Wheel.


    Lets go over the color harmonies including Analogous, Monochromatic, Triad and Complementary to start you out. Analogous [ Analogous - Greek, Proportional ] Color harmony is the closest three colors. These colors usually contain a “warm” or a “cold” temperature. The warm refers to the red/orange/yellow or blue/violet/green colors.Here I set up the color grading as follows. I changed the shadows in the color grading to an orange color with a fair amount of saturation. I also changed the midtones of the image to an orange color. This creates a very warm feeling throughout the image.

    This second color uses a colder theme. Here I changed the colors to dark blue colors in the shadows and light blue colors in the highlights and blended them together. Blending in this situation bridges the gap to something that would ordinary look even more unntraul.Analogous colors are unique because they are richer than monochromatic schemes. However they lack color contrast.

    Started differently what you will notice is there is a wider variety of color however this doesn’t equate to stark changes in the light and hue of those colors
    Color Grading Example
    It can be a head spin to add both warm and color colors in these color schemes. Also be careful of the amount of hue you use while using this scheme.

    Where to color gRade Photos Color Grading Tutorial Lightrom

    Monochromatic [ Greek - monokhrōmatos of one color] Monochromatic color schemes use the variation of the light and saturation of a single color. Red and it’s shades are an example of monochromatic tones. The primary colors also be used with neutral colors like black, white or gray.

    The one downside of using a monochromatic color scheme is that it is difficult to have color contrast and vibrance.

    Lightroom Color Grade 2023

    Triad Colors [Greek treis meaning three, also used in Chinese from San Ho Hui (three unite society)] - Uses three colors that are spaced out across the color wheel.
    The triad color scheme is great to show contrast and also maintain balance. Complementary Colors - Made using two colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. How I like to remember it is the first 3 colors in the rainbow matched with the next 3. Red, Orange, Yellow and Green, Blue, Purple. The color scheme allows for high contrast tonal changes on the color scheme.

    This scheme may be harder to balance especially with contrasting colors. It is best to be aware of desaturated warm colors. It may also be worth looking into split complementary scheme.

    Split Complementary Color scheme

    The Split complementary scheme hangs with the complementary scheme. The one difference is that the color scheme splits off for one of the colors to involve a broader range of colors. This reduces the amount of absolute contrast between the opposing colors.

    It take a good range and allows the perception of averaging to a less intense color.

    Adding it in lightroom


    Color Grading

    With the understanding of the Color Grading options in Lightroom along with color schemes and a bit of theory this should be a great starting point to creating photos in Lightroom! Further information may include how the histogram works or other technicalities in lightroom.

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