I'm currently working on recreating a film type aesthetic for a preset. However, I'm having trouble getting the reds right. I love the very vibrant reds in certain film stocks, so I'm trying to capture the essence of that.

The problem I'm facing is getting the reds vibrant enough without over-saturating and losing detail. I'm using the HSL panel to make these adjustments, but I'm wondering if anyone has advice about other methods to create vibrant but not over-sarurated reds?

  • 1
    Any example images to share?
    – Danielillo
    Nov 18, 2022 at 23:37
  • What particular film stocks are you trying to emulate?
    – Michael C
    Nov 18, 2022 at 23:52

3 Answers 3


I think the only way to give a generic answer is to do a general adjustment on a complete image. If you are trying to modify the red of a strawberry on a white background, you have to retouch the strawberry, there is no other option. The following example is a global change. I chose a photo where the reds do not predominate as flat solid elements but are details to highlight.

enter image description here

At first glance, the remarkable "reds" are those of the model's sweater, lips, and hat. The background also has some reddish spots, I take them as secondary since they are not the main objective in this case. Maybe a few strands of hair from the reflection of the sun

The complementary color to red is green. In an RGB image from an image editing program, it would correspond to the green channel. Working in Photoshop, if I load the green channel as a selection and invert it, I get the reds in the photo.

inverted green

From here, you can work in several ways, in this example, one of the most subtle adjustments is to apply an adjustment layer, like a red photo filter (in the image at 50%)

red photo filter

This allows you to work with different elements until you get the effect you want depending on the type of image, such as changing the opacity and mode of the adjustment layer and/or changing the levels of the filter mask. In the image below Overlay mode opacity 50%:


To clip and increase the effect to only a part of the image, like the model in the example, change the mask levels and hide the part of the mask that is not relevant:

enter image description here

How to get a more vibrant red? In the image below there is a color scheme with a red accent. The black background is the one that offers the greatest contrast due to the property of black that magnifies the intensity of all colors. But where red vibrates the most is with its complementary: cyan-blues.

enter image description here

In the example image, by inverting the red filter mask selection and applying a cyan or blue photo filter, the reds will be more intense

blue filter

enter image description here


I tend to pull overall saturation on the main raw development panel down, push saturation up slightly in the HSL tool, then boost the colors I want to emphasize up a bit. This gives the individual adjustments made in the HSL tool a greater effect, or at least it does using Canon's Digital Photo Professional, which is what I normally use for raw conversion.

I use the Standard Picture Style, which is fairly punched up in terms of saturation, contrast, and sharpening. I set the Saturation slider on the main raw panel to -2 (range is -4 to +4). In the HSL panel I move saturation from 100 to 110 (range 0 to 200) to start out.

I've sometimes found that with red, even slightly less can look like more, if that makes sense, because it doesn't let the reds start to bleed. Pulling Luminance back (-0.5 or -1 within a range of -10 to +10) will help the reds look richer without bleeding. I also find that pulling the hue slightly away from orange towards magenta (maybe -2 in a range of -10 to +10) also tends to make the reds look more "pure" to my eye. I almost always pull magenta saturation back to -2 and magenta luminance back to -1 (also -10 to +10). Orange tint and luminance movements have a big effect on skin tones.


Although enjoying their colors and tones to a large extent is a matter of relative taste, but in my opinion, import the relevant image or even your video into the Lightroom Classic software and then in the hsl section and other tools related to color (one of the best software) adjust the tones related to the color channels you want and in order not to lose details, use the j key when editing the level of luminance and saturation and hue in the color channels when It will warn you about missing details in the form of a picture. But regarding which colors are complementary or opposite to other colors, my opinion is that maybe it is better to have a harmony between the background and foreground color groups than to use contrasting colors, even if there are colors The supplement should be in such a way that it does not disturb the visual balance in the frame and the eyes do not get frozen and anxious when reading the image, when we suddenly go from red to green, the eyes stop and stare at the last color they have seen, and the brain Instead of examining the main content of the narrative of the photo or video, he will abandon it and settle for a superficial and normal topic called the color groups in the photo. From my point of view, the content, story, or photographic narrative, or the script and the method of integration have priority over any other issue.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.