photoshop creative

Edit images with Variations

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Magazine, by The Photoshop Creative Team
May 16, 2011

Discover how to use the Variations command to edit images and boost your colours

Colour theory is a vast topic and has been the subject of many books exploring the possibilities of colour combinations, their connotations and differences. The Variations adjustment aims to give you control of all the variants of hues and shades that are possible on a particular image, and offers an alternative method for colour balancing. Similar to the other adjustments in the Image menu, with Variations you can work in small increments or adjust the overall saturation.

The three primary colours – red, green and blue – can be adjusted to offset another colour, as well as each of their complementary counterparts – cyan, magenta and yellow. The Variations menu gives you the choice to adjust how fine or coarse you want the changes that are applied to your image to be so that you can control the amount of colour being added. Variations can also work for tinting black and white images or achieving a slightly different effect for monochrome pictures, as we demonstrate over the page.

Like many commands in Photoshop, there is more than just one way of doing something; but each has an advantage. Variations is particularly handy for controlling the exposure of an image without blowing out highlights, especially when used with the Show Clipping option. Also, if you go too far when applying an adjustment, you can either reverse the effects by clicking on the opposite colour (the complementary colour), or by clicking on the Original preview of your image at the top of the Adjustments palette.

This is a tutorial excerpt from Photoshop Creative issue 74. To read more, order your copy from