If there’s one sure bet in Photoshop, it’s that there’s always something new to learn. Even the tools you’re already using may have more uses and features than you know if you scratch just beneath the surface. One such tool that has many uses but is surprisingly overlooked is the color picker.

f64 Academy’s Blake Rudis discovered that many Photoshop users aren’t familiar with how to access and use the color picker’s different features and he took to YouTube to address this problem. In a 10-minute video, he breaks down the ins-and-outs of the tool.

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The first thing you need to know is how to access the color picker. Either clicking the foreground/background color swatches, which are located on the bottom left of your screen in the tool panel by default, or creating a “solid color” adjustment layer will bring up the color picker. Once it’s there, you can use it to select colors from within a few different variations of color chart or by sampling from your document if you need an exact match for whatever you’re working on.

Understanding the color picker tool will also help you with color work using other color tools. Once you have a firm grasp on what each color setting contained within the color picker tool does, you will be able to apply this knowledge to other tools as well, like Selective Color and H/S/L layers.

Exploring The Color Picker Tool

You’ve probably seen the graphic representation for choosing hue, which encompasses all the tonal values and numerical settings used to choose a color, but did you know that you can also work with color aspects individually? There are nine types of value, represented by a letter, which have a clickable bullet-style button next to them in the color picker. 

Here is what all the letters stand for: H – hue, S – saturation, B – brightness, R – red channel, G – green channel, B – blue channel, L – luminance, a – “a” channel, b – “b” channel. The last three represent the Lab color space in which colors are broken down by luminance, the green-red spectrum on the “a” channel, and the blue-yellow spectrum on the “b” channel.

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CMYK values are also displayed and are editable, though they don’t have their own buttons and displays. In the CMYK colorspace, C – cyan, M – magenta, Y – yellow, K – black.

By clicking the buttons within the color picker, you change the graph to represent color options depending on the button clicked.

This is all easier to wrap your head around if you’re watching the actions performed while hearing about them, so it’s highly recommended that you watch the video below and open up your own color picker tool to explore. Blake covers more ground as well, and understanding color is important to most Photoshop work, so the 10 minutes of your life watching this tutorial would be well-spent.