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Capture One Pro | Breaking Down The Astounding Color Editor Tool

By Max Bridge on July 3rd 2017

Adjusting color in our photos is one of the fundamental things we all need to know as photographers. Capture One Pro has a wonderful tool which will allows you to adjust color in all the usual ways, but it also has some little-known features I’ll be covering today.

Color In Capture One Pro | The Basics

In this article I’ll be taking you through the Color Editor. It has three tabs; Basic, Advanced and Skin Tone, with the Basic Tab covering all the adjustments you’ll be used to. We can select any of the standard color groups (cyan, magenta, yellow etc.) and make adjustments to Hue, Saturation, and Lightness (*or luminance for those familiar with Lightroom).

little girl sitting on park bench with the basic tool tab of the capture one color editor

This section of the Color Editor is all very standard so we won’t dwell on it for long. The only real difference here, when compared to other editing software, is the manner in which Capture One renders these colors and the extent to which you can adjust them. Other than that, you’ll be able to experiment here and be familiar with this in a matter of seconds. So let’s move on to something a little more interesting.

Capture One Color Editor | The Advanced Tab

The Advanced Tab is set up in a very similar way to the Basic tab but has some key differences. Here we’re able to use the Color Picker (found at the bottom right of the color wheel) to select the exact color we want. Having done so we can make very precise adjustments to a far smaller range of color.

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In the image below, the Color Picker was used to select the Cyan of this girls dress. Having done so, one can either click “View Selected Color Range” found at the bottom left of the panel, or crank up your saturation to view exactly what range of colors have been selected.

“View Selected Color Range” will turn non-selected colors to grayscale. Personally I prefer to crank the saturation but you may prefer the other method. At this point it’s a good idea to reduce your smoothness to 0 and use the three lines at the edge of the color wheel to further refine your selection.

little girls sitting on bench next to the capture one pro advanced tab in the color editor

Once you’ve refined your selection to only include the range of colors you want to adjust, move the smoothness slider up so the transition is not too hard. Smoothness determines how much bleed there is into the surrounding colors and makes the transition a little less harsh.

Now that your selection has been made, you can make all of the usual adjustments to Hue, Saturation and Lightness but on a far smaller scale.

While this is pretty cool, it gets much much better. You can export your color selection to a new layer in the Local Adjustments Panel. All you have to do is click the three dots at the top of the panel and head to “Create Masked Layer from Selection”.

little girls sitting on a park bench next to the capture one pro color editor, showing you how to create a mask from a selection

If you’re not familiar with the Local Adjustments Panel in Capture One be sure to check out this article. As a quick rundown, the local adjustments panel allows one to create masks (using brushes and gradients) and then apply a myriad of settings (see photo below). The really cool thing here, is we’ve been able to quickly create a precise mask using the color within our image. I’ll let you imagine the many applications of this.

the capture one pro local adjustments panel

The Icing On The Cake | The Skin Tone Panel

As a still life photographer, I rarely have a need for this panel. That said, it is extremely useful for all you portrait shooters out there. It works in a very similar way to the Advanced Tab but has another set of unique controls for controlling the uniformity of colors, something which any experienced retoucher will find extremely useful. That word, ‘Uniformity’ is key to Capture One’s tools and success.

the skin tone panel in capture one pro

As you can see, the top four sliders are very similar to what we’ve covered already, and you first use the color picker tool to select an appealing part of your subjects skin. Having done so, you can refine that selection in exactly the same way as we did with the dress above.

Now, once the skin has been selected, you can begin to use the Uniformity sliders at the bottom. If your subject has some nasty Magenta color under the eyes, blotchy red patches or any other minor defects which only a model with perfect makeup may be devoid of, you can reduce the impact of those colors here. Mess around with the three sliders until a pleasing result has been achieved. At this point, it’s a good time to grab that little dot inside the triangle of the color wheel; look closely, you’ll see it. That dot will allow you to adjust the tint of your adjustment a little more and get the skin looking exactly how you want it.

the skin tone panel in the capture one pro color editor next to a little girl sitting on a bench

As with all skin retouching the adjustments here are subtle but can make a big difference. The little girl in our example photo has very good skin, as you’d expect anyone of this age to. However, by making minor alterations within this panel we were able to remove most of the magenta from under her eyes and a slight blue cast on her forearms.

Final Thoughts

Retouching is a subtle art. The Color Editor within Capture One feels far more appropriate to this task than what I’ve seen in many other applications. That’s not to say you can’t get decent results using Lightroom, for instance, but the level of control Capture One presents is tough to beat. Whether your editing Portraits, Landscapes, Still Life, whatever. If precise control over your image is desired, Capture One is a fantastic tool.

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Be sure to check out some of the linked articles throughout this article for more simple Capture One tips. If you’re in the mood for learning more about photography in general, make sure you head over to the SLR Lounge Store and take a look at everything on offer.

About

Max began his career within the film industry. He’s worked on everything from a banned horror film to multi-million-pound commercials crewed by top industry professionals. After suffering a back injury, Max left the film industry and is now using his knowledge to pursue a career within photography.

Website: SquareMountain 
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