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Learn how to work with lab color mode in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
Tags:adobe,adobe photoshop cs3,channels,images,lab color mode,masking,photoshop,total training
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Now, what we are going do, is migrate away a little bit from the RGB channels here and we're going to take a look at one of the more theoretical color modes associated with Photoshop CS3. So, I'm going to go ahead, and I'm going close up the Graduate Channels file and I am just going to select Don't Save on that. Now I am jump back into the full screen mode with the graduate.psd file here and what we are going to do, is we are going to take a look at the color mode that is known as LAB. Now, a lot of people call this lab color, but it's associated just like it is with RGB, so you would spell it out the same way. So, just call this LAB color, I was corrected by one of my professor on that note. So, I just want to make sure that everybody calls this the right thing, it is LAB color not lab and what we are going to do, is we are going to convert that by coming up to the Image menu, choosing Mode and we are going to switch to LAB color.
Now, when I do that you are not going to see a visual change on the image itself, but you will see a change over here inside of the channels panel. So for instance, the RGB composite channel is now called LAB composite channel. You also have three channels much the same way as you do in RGB, except this time it's called lightness, A and B and you can access those the same way you can the other channels simply by using the keyboard shortcuts. It would be Command+1 or Ctrl+1 for the lightness channel, Command+2 for the A channel, Command+3 for the B channel, Ctrl+2 and Ctrl+3 if you are working on the PC side.
And what these channels are just different values of color, the A and the Bridge channels, so that's where your color information is stored within this particular color mode. There is no color information whatsoever stored in the lightness channel which means you are going to be able to independently alter the luminosity values of this image when you are working inside of LAB color. And so that gives you a lot more control over this image, especially, when you are sharpening and also when you are saturating colors and I will give you a little bit more of an example of that right now.
So, we'll go ahead and we'll click back on the LAB composite here and I am going to bring up the levels command by using Command+L on the Mac, Ctrl+L on the PC and you'll notice here inside the levels dialog box that I can switch to any number of those channels that I want to simply by using the keyboard shortcut. So, if I want to go ahead and switch to the A channel, I'll go ahead and just hit Command+2 on a Mac, Ctrl+2 on a PC that jumps me into the A channel here inside the Levels dialog box. Now, you're going to notice that your histogram is going to look rather strange when you jump into the A channel and that's because there is not a whole lot of values associated with this. There is only a couple of colors inside of this particular color channel.
So, what we are going to do, is we are going to push the saturation of this image up and when we are going to do that simply by dragging in the Shadow Slider like so. It's going to introduce more blue tones to this and if I go ahead then and push this into the left then we are going start bringing in more of those red type colors like so. We're just going to over saturate those colors. Now, if you had done this in RGB color mode you would significantly clip all of those colors and you would have weird distortions and things like that. Now, you do have some color distortion simply because I have pushed this up so far, but you don't have the kind of clipping and all kinds of jagged artifacts and things that you would have in other color modes simply because you are not touching any of those luminosity values and you are also only working in those two particular color ranges there.
I can do the same thing in the B channel. I will go ahead and just switch to that by coming up here to the Channels menu and I am going to just drag in from the left again, see that's going to introduce some severe blue tones there, I'll go ahead and drag into the left, right like that. Now, this is where you going to get some severe color distortion because now you have done this to every single color in the image, so this is kind of like what you would see in the RGB, except it's not quite as bad. You are not having quite as much clipping as you would in RGB and the great part about this is you have not changed the brightness values of this image whatsoever. The luminosity values are still exactly the same. All you've done is altered the color information.
I am going to go ahead now and I am going reset this by Option+clicking or Alt+clicking on the Cancel button, that's going to reset those to my original settings there and I am going to go ahead and click OK. And now, I am also going to show you how you can alter the luminosity values here and not effect the color information. So, what we are going to do is we are just going to click on the lightness channel right here and we are going to go ahead then and we'll just run a quick levels command on that, Command and Ctrl+L, you see it automatically defaults that lightness channel and we will go ahead then and we will just darken up the shadows and will bring up the highlights just a little bit like so.
Now, when I go ahead and click OK to that and click back on the LAB composite channel there, you are going to notice, if I hit Command+Z or Ctrl+Z that I've only affected the brightness values. Those color values are staying exactly the same. So, you have the ability to edit those luminosity values completely independent from those colors which gives you tremendous amount of control and flexibility and the best part about this is when you go back up here to the image menu and choose Mode and switch back to RGB, you're going to see no color change what so ever because these transitions are completely lossless.
So, there is no color distortion whatsoever, switching between LAB and RGB. So, feel free to jump into LAB at any time you want to make changes to specific color values or specific luminosity values and that way you have much more control, flexibility and the you can always jump back into RGB and continue your normal Editing process.