Essential Color Tools in ACR and Lightroom

There are four things you should be doing with the colors in your photos in Adobe Camera Raw. Well, there’s probably more than four, but today I am going to show you how to manipulate color with just four essential color tools and the order that you should use them.

I know I have taught you a ton about color over the years and there may be the question of, “Is this going to change your workflow  now?”   The answer is not really, I will just incorporate it into my workflow with the ZSE 6 and Palette Effects III (yes,  I said PE III, coming VERY soon). 

Essential Color Tools Before Essential Color Tools After


I feel very strongly that your RAW workflow sets the foundation for everything else you do following.   So, getting your colors this good doesn’t mean the photo is a complete and finished product.  Quite the opposite actually.   It means that you have just built an incredible base for your finishing touches.   

Imagine having this much access to color going into Photoshop to do a full ZSE and PE Workflow….WOW!

So my workflow doesn’t change, but I do use these four essential color tools and in this order, when I am editing my raw files:

  1.  White Balance – It sets the stage for your colorwork and can be used to mildly exaggerate your colors or to fix color casts.
  2. Calibration – A critical step often overlooked.  It is imperative as it sets the intensity of your colors.
  3. Color Mixer – Often used in place of #2, but it should actually be used more as a mild refinement tool rather than a color amplification tool as it can introduce pixelation and banding.
  4. Local Corrections – In this video, I show the grad filter, but really you can use any of the local adjustment tools to put the polish on your colors.

Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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