Three Strategies for Increasing Color Separation

May 1, 2020

Do your images need to look more colorful? In this Insight, learn 3 color separation tools for increasing perceptual colorfulness.

Publishers note: Team Mixing Light is thrilled to welcome our newest contributor – L.A. based, freelance colorist Cullen Kelly to the team! Cullen’s technical and creative expertise is deep and we’re excited to share his first (of many) tutorials here on Mixing Light. Be sure to welcome Cullen in the comments below. You can read Cullen’s bio and get the link for his website on our About Page.

A Different Way Of Achieving “Colorfulness”

At some point in any grade, you’re going to find you or client want a frame to look more colorful. We most commonly scratch this itch with some form of saturation, but is this always the right choice? Is there any other approach?

One alternative is to increase your color separation, meaning the extent to which the dominant colors in your frame contrast against one another.

The greater this contrast, the more separation, and the greater ‘colorfulness’ we perceive. Learning to assess and increase an image’s color separation is one of the most valuable tools you can add to your kit as a colorist, and it opens up a whole new realm of imaginative possibilities beyond making a simple saturation adjustment.

In this Insight I’ll show you three techniques for increasing color separation:

  • Refining your image’s baseline color temperature to find the “sweet spot” for maximum separation
  • Using custom curves to increase color separation across your image’s tonal regions
  • Using the Hue vs Lum tool to increase separation by adjusting the luminance of a particular hue

If you have any questions, comments or something to add to the discussion please use the comments below



Homepage Forums Three Strategies for Increasing Color Separation

Page 2 of 2

  • Keith G

    On the bottom row is a drop down that allows you to slow the video.

  • chris

    Whats the option mouse click equivalent on a pc to pin the curve back to the original line? I couldn’t quite find it now the label for that action in the keyboard shortcut. I’ve tried ctrl and alt click. it’s 4min 34 seconds into the tutorial. Thanks for some great insight Cullen

  • Pat Inhofer

    Chris – typically Option-click on a Mac is directly equivalent to Alt-Click on the PC. You may find that you need to Alt+click+hold then drag to add the point and get it to ‘snap’ to the default line.

  • Rich Marino

    Excellent Insight Cullen thanks! This was done before the HDR tool, wondering if you would approach it differently using that? I am tending to use it in place of curves for some things lately.

  • Cullen Kelly

    Thanks Rich! Yep, the HDR tool definitely offers some alternative approaches to these ideas. To be honest, after a torrid love affair with that toolset, I find I’m mostly back to curves these days — but I definitely still use the HDR tools from time to time.

    • Rich Marino

      Hmmm interesting I’ll have to do some test comparisons, thanks!

Page 2 of 2

Log in to reply.

1,000+ Tutorials to Explore

Get full access to our entire library of over 1,100+ color tutorials for an entire week!

Start Your Test Drive!