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Photon Color Grading
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Changing Colors

Making adjustments in Photon is much more simple and yet more powerful than using traditional color grading tools. To understand how to create color grades in Photon you only have to ask yourself these two basic questions: 

  1. How do I want to change colors?
  2. Which colors do I want to affect with my changes?

1. Tools

How you change colors determines if you change brightness, modify saturation or introduce color shifts and contrast. In Photon you make these adjustments with Tools.

The Lightness/Saturation tool can be used to, you guessed it, change lightness and saturation. Drag up to make colors brighter, drag down to make them darker. Drag to the sides to increase or decrease saturation.

The Color Tone tool works similarly to color wheels in traditional color grading applications but without being confined to a preset brightness range.  It allows you to shift colors towards a specific hue to introduce or change tonality. The further you drag away from the center grey axis of the color model, the more intense the tonal shift becomes.

The contrast tool is useful for spreading or contracting colors around a selected center point to make quick contrast adjustments. This tool becomes especially powerful when making localized contrast adjustments by only targeting specific color ranges. More on that below!

As the name implies, the Color Twist tool can be used to rotate the hue of colors around the center grey axis. The main difference to the Color Tone tool is that twisting never changes the intensity (or saturation) of colors and that operations are locked to circular motion.

2. Ranges

Which colors you affect with the tools above is determined by the color clusters you tell Photon to target. This targeting is done with Ranges.

Global Range is the application's default color range and affects all colors equally. Well, almost equally. Adjustments are actually slightly stronger in the brightness ranges you click on. This allows you to, for example, create very subtle color contrasts between highlights and shadows while keeping everything smooth and uniform. Global range is ideal to make broad, sweeping changes to the overall image.

Hue range mode allows you to quickly adjust a slice of colors based on their hue value. As you can see above, the slices have a smooth falloff to all sides to ensure high color transform stability for all shaping tools. You can think of Hue Range as the 3D equivalent to bezier curves in 2D grading applications - just a little more powerful because you can target any luminance range.

Satruation Range Mode allows you to target specific saturation intensities in the color space. Saturation expands from the center grey axis of the color space, where there is no color intensity, toward the outer edge where the most saturated colors reside. In the example above we're using saturation range to mute saturated colors and give less saturated colors a boost.

Custom Range Mode, as the name implies, allows you to define custom 3D color clusters. You define these clusters (also called masks) by first placing the curser over the color you want to make your selection around. Then you dial in three coordinate ranges for your selection. The default coordinate system is HSL (Hue, Saturation Lightness).

Good to know: All local ranges (Hue, Saturation & Custom) can be previewed as 2D masks over the image. Simply click and hold the mouse down anywhere on the image to temporarily preview the mask. Mask colors can be changed in the settings menu.
3. Making it sing

Equipped with the basic knowledge of tools and ranges you can start shaping powerful looks in Photon. You can use any tool within any color range. You can use the tools to "paint" on the preview image or work directly in the 3D color shaper. Here's a quick breakdown that includes some of the concepts we've learned so far.

Lesson Summary: In Photon colors are changed with tools and within ranges. Tools determine how colors are changed and ranges determine which parts of the color space are affected by those changes. Any tool can be combined with any range. Tools can be used to "paint" over the preview image or to target colors directly in the 3D color shaper.