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Basic Color Correction in Photoshop

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Color correction is often shrouded in mystery, misunderstood, and/or feared. The fact is that basic color correction can be fairly simple, quick, and even fun—when you know how to approach it. This article gives the reader a quick course in a simple color correction method that can dramatically improve images in a matter of moments.

Richard Lynch is the author of a number of books and articles on Photoshop, scanning, and digital imaging. This article is excerpted from chapters 20, 21, and 22 of his book Special Edition Using Adobe Photoshop 6.

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Color correction is a term that is often used in a number of ways; they all simply mean to change the color of an image. For the purposes of this article, color correction is the adjustment of color in photographic images to get the most realistic results.

Not all images need color correction; some are fine just the way they are. However, many (or most) images can be improved with a little correction—either to enhance the image generally or to enhance it for its specific use. For example, it is possible to get better color in print by correcting images to make the most out of the CMYK printing process, a process that visibly limits the color potential of the RGB color space. It is also possible to alter color to adjust for the color of lighting, under- or overexposure, and tendencies in film or photographic method.

There are some very simple steps to make in general correction for color images that go a long way toward getting great image color. These corrections can often work near-miracles on images in just a few moments. The basic steps are simple, and although they work most of the time, they will not completely correct every image, and they should be used with other techniques to prepare an image for output.

This article will show you how to follow an easy set of assembly instructions in RGB to fix most of your color woes. Some of the corrections rely on your ability to evaluate an image visually. For the sake of this article, it is assumed that you have calibrated and tested your monitor and output matching.

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