How to Get Colorful with Hue/Saturation in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

Photoshop’s CS6 Hue/Saturation controls let you adjust colors based on their hue, saturation, and lightness. The Hue/Saturation dialog box doesn’t work with the Red, Green, and Blue (or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) channels of an image. Instead, it operates on the different colors, or hues. You can select all the colors (Master) or one color to modify from the Edit pop-up menu.

Three sliders are in the Hue/Saturation dialog box.

  • Hue: Shifts all the colors clockwise or counterclockwise around the color wheel, depending on the direction you move the slider.

  • Saturation: Increases or decreases the richness of the colors in an image.

  • Lightness: Modifies the brightness values.


You can adjust any of these values by moving the sliders and watching the results in the image window. The top color bar at the bottom of the dialog box represents the colors in their order on the color wheel before you made any adjustment. The lower color bar shows how the modifications you make affect the colors.

Select the slider (the pointing finger icon) to adjust your Hue and Saturation values. With the icon selected, drag directly on your image to adjust the Saturation. Hold down the Ctrl (Command on the Mac) key and drag on your image to adjust the Hue.

When you select an individual color to adjust, sliders appear between the color bars so that you can define the range of color to be adjusted. You can select, add, or subtract colors from the range by selecting one of the Eyedropper tools and clicking in the image.

You can also select a Hue/Saturation preset, such as Old Style or Sepia, from the Preset pop-up menu in the Hue/Saturation dialog box.

The Hue/Saturation dialog box also lets you colorize images, a useful option for creating sepia-colored images.