Color Balance Order


Today’s Question: I may be digging a little too deep here, but I have a question about the Color Balance adjustment in Photoshop. Is there any reason I should use the sliders in the order they are presented? Or some different order? Does it matter at all which order I adjust the sliders?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Fundamentally, you can move the sliders for the Color Balance adjustment in Photoshop in any order you want. In general I prefer to take a thoughtful approach to applying a Color Balance adjustment, but all that really matters is the final settings you’ve established for the three adjustment sliders.

More Detail: My preferred approach to the Color Balance adjustment is to start with the slider that represents the greatest “need” in the image, and then work my way through the other sliders in a similar fashion.

So, for example, if my impression of a photo is that the color is shifted too far toward magenta, I’m going to start with the Magenta/Green slider for Color Balance. Once I’m happy with the overall balance between magenta and green, I’ll evaluate the photo and consider what the next most-needed slider shift might be.

Perhaps, for example, the image now looks a little too yellow. I would then naturally go to the Yellow/Blue slider to fine-tune the color. Then, in the interest of thoroughness, I would refine the slider position for the Cyan/Red slider.

Once I’ve adjusted all three sliders, I would return to all three (in any order that seems to make sense to me) to further refine the overall color result. But there is no need to worry about the order in which you change the slider values, or how many times you go back and forth among all of the sliders to achieve the best overall balance of color in the photo.

As an added tip, keep in mind that you can use the up and down arrow keys on the keyboard to adjust the value for any slider. Simply click with the mouse in the numeric value for the desired slider to activate that field. Then use the up and down arrow keys on the keyboard to increase or decrease the value for that slider, respectively. And if you hold the Shift key on the keyboard, the up and down arrow keys will shift the value in increments of ten rather than one.