Site Search

Vibrance is an an adjustment that was first introduced in Photoshop CS4 and it sure is an improvement over the Hue Saturation adjustment.

What it does is adjust the saturation so that clipping is minimized as colors approach full saturation. This adjustment increases the saturation of less-saturated colors more than the colors that are already saturated.

Vibrance also prevents skintones from becoming over saturated.

If you use Camera Raw then it's an adjustment you may be familiar with.  The advantage now that it's in the normal Photoshop editor we know and love is that it can be used as an Adjustment Layer which gives us the ever useful Layer Mask.

In portrait photography the vibrance adjustment can be used to make eyes sparkle and the lips fully saturated.

The adjustment can be used with an adjustment layer and it can also be used with the ever popular Sponge Tool.

This is a brush intensive kind of adjustment so it is best to use a Wacom Bamboo or Wacom Intuos4 with the pressure sensitivity set the way you want it to be.  In this case it is probably best to set the Size to change with pressure.

Sponge Tool

The Sponge Tool lives with the Dodge and Burn Tools on the toolbar (keyboard shortcut is O) and it is used directly on the image so make sure you make a copy of the background.

To use the Sponge Tool to increase saturation in the eyes or the lips there are a few settings that need to be set-up in the Options Bar ....

vibrance options

From left to right ...

  • Size - self-explanatory
  • Toggle  - the brush panel on and off
  • Mode - Saturate for this technique
  • Flow - at least 50%
  • Airbrush - off
  • Vibrance - Checked
  • Tablet Pressue - controls size and overrides the settings in the the Brushes Palette

The important settings are in Bold.

Here's an eye to work on ...

vibrance eye

Now this isn't a bad shot for sure!  With the Sponge Tool set as described, this is what can be done ...

vibrance after sponge tool

The Vibrance setting on the Sponge tool certainly made a difference, didn't it?  The 50% Flow setting prevented the eye from being way too saturated.

The spectral highlights were also saturated because of my careless use of my Intuos pen so it was necessary to dodge out the spectrals a tad ...

Vibrance Adjustment Layer

The Vibrance Adjustment Layer is increasing local saturation at its best.  The adjustments are not done on the original image and there is a layer mask to work with as well.

vibrance original

This pretty kitty has nice eyes now but we can make them sparkle and here's how with Photoshop CS5 (click to see final image)...

vibrance adjustment layer

The first step is to add a new Vibrance Adjustment Layer (f you use this panel then it is the little purply colored one).

vibrance adjustment

With Photoshop CS5 this is the panel that will pop up ...

There are two Tabs (Adjustments and Masks) and two  sliders (Vibrance and Saturation). 

The second step is to move the Saturation Slider all the way to the left in the Adjustments Panel - this will desaturate the photo.

This is what we have now - not a bad black and white, is it ...?

vibrance saturation lowered

vibrance mask

The third step is to click the Masks Tab and click the Invert button at the bottom of the tab - this will bring all of the color back.

The fourth step is to grab your Wacom pen, make sure the foreground color is white and paint on the eyes - this will turn them to grayscale again.

This is how our pretty kitty's eye is looking now ...

vibrance cats eye

vibrance adjustment

The fifth step is to flip back to the Adjustments Tab, move the Saturation Slider back to 0 and then move the Vibrance slider all the way up to 100.

And this is how our Pretty Kitty looks now ...

vibrance last adjustment

(Click here to view the original)

Taking It Further

So let;s do a bit more with the Pretty Kitty - say - add a Black and White Adjustment layer (gotta love a good black and white photograph).

  1. Make a new Black and White Adjustment Layer.

  2. In the Adjustments Panel I moved the Red and the Yellow slider to the left which really darkened up the overall picture.

  3. When I was satisfied with the look of the Black and White conversion, I set black as the Foreground color, took my Wacom pen and painted over the eyes with the brush dynamic set to change size with pressure.

  4. The image was then cropped and a Soft Light dodge and burn layer was added.  I kept the Foreground color black and burned in the right side of the picture and some of the white areas on her chin.  Then I changed the Foreground color to white and dodged out the nose which lost all detail when the phot was converted to black and white.

And here's the pretty kitty now ...

vibrance black and white

There you go - give this excellent adjustment a go.  I expect you will be really pleased with the results.

Page Links

Sponge Tool

Vibrance Adjustment Layer

Taking It Further

Enjoy This Site?
Then why not use the button below, to add us to your favorite bookmarking service?

Return to top

Site build It!

Use the Contact Form to ask questions, provide feedback or comments.

Questions are good - so are comments - or requests!

Return to Photoshop tutorials from Vibrance
Copyright© 2009-2013.