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Tips & Tricks

Vibrance vs Saturation | What is the Difference?

By Justin Heyes on September 29th 2017

When capturing images, you will find some colors appear more intense than others depending on the situation. Jumping into a powerful program like Photoshop can be a treacherous predicament, especially when you don’t know what every tool does. Breaking down blacks versus shadows, highlights versus whites, and saturation vs vibrance is critical for the best output.

Jesus Ramirez, of the Photoshop Training Channel, produced a quick video showing the difference between the smart-tool that is Vibrance and the crude slider that is Saturation. Toward the end of the video Ramirez explains what is going with the vibrance slider and just how it affects the RGB spectrum. Just like the many brushes at an artists disposal, vibrance is another tool in your photo editing arsenal. It is best used for quick global adjustments, but when a bit more finesse is required the selective color adjustment panel in HSL might be a better option.

Also, while you’re at it, check out our break down of Highlights vs Whites and Blacks vs Shadows, below:

Highlights vs. Whites | What’s The Difference & When To Use Which?

Shadows vs. Blacks | What’s The Difference & When To Use Which?



Saturating the colors in photoshop you may find that that the already vibrant colors begin to posterize when you get the muted colors where you want them to be; nothing can take an image from great to cartoon quicker. Saturation is a uniform increase in the intensity of all colors equally, regardless of how muted the colors are.

Saturation is a uniform increase in the intensity of all colors equally, regardless of how muted the colors are. Over-saturating can result in clipping often producing less than pleasing skin tones.

Saturation 100% in Affinity Photo


Because Photoshop has redundant functions that can be used for the same action, vibrance can be used to make the colors of your image pop without clipping. Vibrance is a smart-tool which increases the intensity of the more muted colors, leaving saturated colors alone. Vibrance also prevents skin tones from becoming overly saturated and unnatural.

Vibrance 100% in Affinity Photo

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Royi

    In a word, Vibrance is a Masked (Using Saturation Mask) operation of Saturation. Luminosity Masks are very popular yet people are less known with Saturation Masks which are amazing tool as well. Nino Batista showed something nice about it –

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