Improve photo colors with Gimp

This tutorial is a help for improving colors in images with Gimp. You can use Gimp to edit, improve, correct or fix the color in any photo portrait picture.

Author Moris Garon for with Photo Color Software Gimp. Translation Yoshi Toshibo.

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Effect and Meaning of Colors

Each color has a symbolic meaning and a psychological effect on the mood. Famous painters mix paint colors in order to affect the observer of their images. French impressionist painters used natural fall colors and color tones of red, yellow and orange to create suggestive feeling of transience. Esoteric people use special mood ring colors to affect the mood of their aura, soul, spirit or brain.

meaning of color

The primary colors blue and green have a symbolic meaning for nature, home, hope and some psychologic effect on the trust. The rose red color of blood often means danger, violence or rebellion for revolution in sexual love. True colors of the rainbow mean, represent and symbolize the freedom and peace for gays, christians, lesbians and for the bright united colors of benetton.

Effect of color

The tradition of Feng Shui teaches us to use the right interior paint colors in order to improve our physical, spiritual, and financial feeling or mood. An intelligent room decorator is using soft pastel interior paint colors for decorating a bathroom, a kitchen or a bedroom in order to decorate the home with stimulating, relaxing and harmony improving color tones.

Software for photo colors

Weak lighting or artificial light can lead to a color cast, bad color ballance, yellowing or discoloration in a photo. For the luck of us all, there is a good free photo editing software for correction of color, contrast and brightness in an image.

Gimp is a free computer program, a photo software and a professional tool for improving colors of a picture. Photographers are using Gimp to improve, edit, correct or fix the color of eyes, face, skin and hair in a photo portrait.

Guide for improving color with Gimp

Photos with clear, brilliant and natural colors are always more attractive to common man and woman. Use the following Guide as a help for improving colors in the entire image or for the selection of an area.

#1 Improve colors

try automatic correction

Apply the Tools » Color » Levels -tool to entire image or to the selection of an area. Click on the Auto Correction -button in the levels Dialog to try Gimp's automatic correction of brightness, color and contrast.

correct colors manually

As a good photo editing Software, Gimp allows you to edit the colors manually, with full control of result. Use the Tools » Color » Levels -tool to enhance, fix or improve colors manually.

The sliders on the scale of Output levels can adjust the brightness or darkness for each color channel in the image. Shrink the distance between sliders on the scale of Input levels to adjust the contrast and lightness of a color channel in the image.

The middle slider for Gamma can be used to correct hue of each color channel in a picture. Example : Should the image contain too much red, then decrease the value of Gamma for the red color channel.

#2 correct hue and color balance

The hue of color determines the success of an photo portrait. A hue can be felt as cold, warm, boring or disturbing.

Use the Tools » Colors » Color Balance -tool to improve, edit or change the hue in images and pictures.

Adjust the slider of each color level to increase or decrease the hue of a color. I used the following values to improve the color balance in my image: Red: -60 ; Green: 25; Blue: -40. The option Preserve Luminosity makes the correction of hue more comfortable.

Tips for the correction of hue

* Try to achieve a harmonic color balance between each color in the image to receive the best effect.
* The right hue of color is always a matter of taste and feeling. Try to edit each color with an equal respect.
* To much hue of a color can lead to discoloration in the image !

#3 - edit and fix saturation

Weak, gray or pallid colors are often looking powerless, depressive and unattractive to the observer of the image. Strong, intensive, groovy and psychedelic colors can be sensed as aggressive and disturbing. The optimal saturation of color can improve an image by making shape and colors look more beautiful.

Create a masking layer

Duplicate the lowest original layer in the layers dialog to use the duplicated layer for the retouching correction of the saturation. Change the mode of the duplicated layer in the layers dialog to the saturation mode.

Improve saturation

Use the Tools » Colors » Hue + Saturation -tool to improve saturation in the masking layer. Apply this tool wisely to edit the hue, saturation and lightness of each primary color tone in the image to achieve the most improving effect. I used a value of -60 for the saturation to correct the colors in my image.

A photo before and after improving colors with Gimp.

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