Morals of Color Balance?


I see some experienced artists like Loish etc. that use the Colour Balance adjustment in Photoshop during their painting process, to touch up colours and to shift the mood and atmosphere of the piece that they’re working on to something more faithful to their original vision.

Is there any shame in doing that? A traditional painter would know beforehand all of the tones that they’re going to work with by building a palette.
Using something like the Colour Balance adjustment feels like skipping on some important lessons to be learned on paletting and mixing. It’s just so easy to shift your colours to whatever you want, using that.


I guess it’s answered by this:


Also, keep in mind that while you might have a specific creative vision for the color palette you want to use, you might stray from it while working on the image. Our visual perception and our brain’s ability to remain objective is actually quite terrible, which is why our eyes and brain are very easily fooled by optical illusions. When you see those cool optical illusions on the web, that’s basically your brain malfunctioning.

Our visual perception and brain is far from being perfect or consistent, so we need to be vigilante constantly and work very hard to retain objectivity, so any corrections we can do during the execution to help us keep on track is actually a very smart thing. You shouldn’t wait until you’ve lost all objectivity and the colors are completely screwed up at the very end to start correcting all the problems.


Thank you for the encouragement.
I noticed that using that adjustment when you’re making thumbnails can help with exploring variations and find palettes that look better than what I intended.


Digital painting and traditional paintings are COMPLETELY different mediums. I can’t understand for the life of me people who act like they’re the same. Traditional painting is a 3D medium - you get light reflection off of various strokes and textures, and physical form built up from the paint itself. Because of this, traditional painting has many advantages over digital, as well as the limitation of needing to plan out your colors before you paint.

Digital painting is a truly 2-dimensional medium. You lose many of those textural components that would normally capture the eyes with actual paint. But the advantage of digital is that you can constantly change it, add infinite details, and create color profiles which are nearly impossible in traditional painting. So why not take advantage of what you’re working with? Tools like color dodge and color balance can often create subtle differences in color which are virtually impossible to create using paint.

The only thing to worry about in my mind is over-reliance on a tool. For instance, if you use the dodge/burn tools, they will create variations in color that might be way more dramatic than any object would actually have. So I personally avoid using these tools, but some people make use of them gently in backgrounds to create cool effects like camera flares or fire effects. I think the last time I used the dodge tool was when making a fireball for a dragon, and I ended up painting over most of it to tone FIRE down. xD And like Lunatique said, if you’re already using a specific color palette, any amount of photo editing tools can easily throw off your colors.

tldr; All good things in moderation.


It seems that there’s a better alternative to the Color Balance adjustment if you want to manipulate the colours in your work based on their values: Gradient Map.


Color Balance does something similar, but with Gradient Map you have a much greater control over how everything is mapped.
EDIT: It seems that Color Balance is used more for local adjustments (selections, layers etc.) and the Gradient Map is used more for global adjustments (the whole piece, with the adjustment layer under a weak opacity).


Is there any shame in using a $30 sable brush when the really traditional painters used a crushed twig?


What is the purpose of art? Does working with colors in new ways advance that?

Which technological advancements are legitimate and which ones aren’t?

Just because old tech required a certain approach doesn’t mean we should fetishize that approach when the new tech makes it pointless.

What if the people who say art is about the process, the creation, not the result. Then isn’t adjusting colors on the fly more legitimate than sticking to a rigid palette? Doesn’t the old way turn the production into rote manufacturing?

I think morals is an odd choice of word. To illustrate, I’ll flip it - what about how you use color could be immoral? Who gets hurt; in what way?


Do it as good as possible ‘beforehand’ and use colorbalance adjustments just to experiment and see if it might look better…
Most traditional painters would do the same if they could, whatever they say.
That said, like with everything else, there’s a point at which trusting too much on such workflow will have a negative impact on your artistic abilities.
Like with all art it’s all about how you use it.

I know some traditional painters/artists that ‘hate’ on digital painting and designing (as most of you probably know there’s quite a few of them) and most of the time its just because of how clueless and misinformed they are about the whole process and them holding on their trusted ways of doing things. They think its all about pressing a button and the computer does it all for you.