Like any sort of adjustment made in Photoshop, there are many different ways to adjust the white balance and correct color casts in your image. In this post, I will show you a few techniques for adjusting white balance and the overall color tone of your images.
Possibly the most straightforward and widely used way to adjust the white balance in your image is to create a new Color Balance adjustment layer 9for more on layers, click here).
This image has quite a bit of red in it, so we are going to use the Color Balance panel to pull out the red and add cyan. In this example, I am working in the Midtones channel, because the midtones, not the shadows or highlights, are dominant in this image, and they contain the most red. If you have an image where the shadows or highlights have a red cast to them, then you will work in either the Shadows or Highlights channels:
As you can see above, I moved the top slider towards Cyan, away from Red, to balance out the warmth of the image and make it a bit cooler.
In the example below, the top half of the image is the original image with the warmer/red color cast, and the bottom half is after our Color Balance adjustments:
If, for example, my image contained too much blue in the midtones, I would move my slider towards yellow, which is the opposite of blue.
When adjusting color casts, always move your slider towards the opposite of the color you want to remove.
In addition to overall exposure adjustments, the Levels panel allows you to make color adjustments. Here's how:
First, create a new Levels adjustment layer.
In the drop-down menu where you see the RGB channel, select the Red channel:
Here, you can adjust color tones within the Highlights, Shadows and Midtones.
Just as we did in the Color Balance panel, we are working primarily with the Midtones. If you move the Midtones (middle) slider to the right, you will be adding cyan, but if you move it to the left, you will be adding red. In this example, I have moved the Shadows and the Midtones slider to the right to add a touch of cyan in both regions:
This panel is generally used to adjust the overall brightness and contrast of an image, but just like the Levels panel, you also have access to the individual color channels, Red, Green & Blue.
Again, I have created an adjustment layer for Curves, and have selected the Red channel.
In order to remove the red cast, I pulled the center of the diagonal line down, towards the bottom right. Pulling in that direction removes red, and if I were to pull up towards the top left, I would be adding red.
This method is similar to Color Balance, but offers a more fine-tuned method for correcting color casts and white balance.
First of all, make sure you have selected Relative and not Absolute. Relative will give you much more natural results, and prevent you from over-editing.
For each color within the Reds channel, I made the following adjustments:
Cyan +76: once again, cyan cancels out red, so I increased the cyan
Magenta +9: this adjustment brought out more color in the purple flowers
Yellow -4: this was a minor tweak, but it helped remove a bit more warmth from the image
Black -15: this slider will affect the overall lightness of the particular color channel. Since this image has a lot of red in it, and I have selected the Reds channel, adjusting the Black slider to the left creates more of a hazy look, whereas if I were to move the slider to the right, the image would become darker.
If you want even more help with white balance and speeding up your workflow through Photoshop actions, be sure to check out the PURE Color Workflow, which has plenty of actions and brushes to help you achieve the perfect white balance!