Working with the Color Editor

Saturation / Exposure / RGB-readouts / CMYK

The Color Editor enables you to select and adjust a narrow color range without affecting other colors in an image.


Capture One’s Color Editor enables you to select all the colors and adjust them equally or to select and adjust a specific color, or narrow range of colors, without affecting other, unrelated, colors in the image. Thus, it can be used to enhance or subdue colors selectively, used creatively to alter from one color to another, or correct color casts such as those produced under artificial light. More specialized features include the selection of highly targeted colors, such as skin tones with the ability to enhance and blend them for lustrous-looking results, as well as options to make masks from a color selection, and to save precisely made adjustments as ICC color profiles.

Located under the Color inspector, the Color Editor is available in three modes: Basic, Advanced and Skin Tone, with each mode accessed from the tabs in the tool. All three modes adopt an easy to use Color Picker tool, allowing you to target the color you want to correct. In addition, a 2-D color wheel provides confirmation of the chosen color and a narrow range of related colors.

The color wheel places fully-saturated primary and secondary colors around a ring, ranging from red, through yellow, green, and blue, finally returning to red again. A third axis, not shown on a 2-D wheel, represents lightness.

All three selection modes of the Color Editor enable shifting of the chosen color around the three axes, using Hue, Saturation, and Lightness sliders. The Hue slider adjusts the selected color or color range towards another. For example, if you select blue, moving the slider to the left shifts the hue clockwise around the wheel towards green, while a move to the right will shift the hue in the other direction, towards red.

The Saturation slider adjusts the intensity, or purity of the selected color or color range. Moving the slider to the left desaturates the chosen colors, in effect moving them towards the center of the wheel, while adjusting the slider to the right increases saturation. The Lightness slider alters the brightness of the selected color range. A fourth parameter, Smoothness, adjusts the degree of change between the selected color range and related colors, ensuring that colors get a natural look with smooth transitions between them.

Indicated by a wire frame, the selection, or slice, can be adjusted to make the color range more or less targeted, depending on the desired effect. Handles are incorporated for adjustment and the panel can be dragged away from the inspector and expanded for even greater precision and control.

Created for standard editing tasks, the Color Editor’s Basic mode permits a maximum of up to only one color edit in each segment (red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, yellow). The Advanced mode provides a much more specialized tool, permitting up to 30 individual colors to be corrected per image. It also has more control over the color and saturation range.

Through the addition of three Uniformity sliders, the Skin Tone mode offers more tools to even out, or homogenize, color, and is useful for correcting unwanted color variation, particularly when images have had strong global contrast and high saturation adjustments applied, or when simply correcting patchy skin tones or the uneven application of make-up.

About local adjustments

Like many of the adjustment tools in Capture One, the Color Editor tool can be used in conjunction with the Layers tool for localized adjustment. Although the Basic mode is disabled the other two modes work in exactly the same way. So the Advanced mode can be used when adjusting a color under mixed lighting, for example, and with the Skin Tone mode, if you’ve captured a group of people in an image, using masks for skin areas on different layers enables you to adjust and blend tones separately for each person. You can also create masks from color selections directly within the Color Editor, enabling you to apply other adjustments beyond color, saturation, lightness, and uniformity.

Note that, if the masks overlap on different layers, the results are accumulative when making localized color adjustments using the Color Editor. For example, when moving the Hue slider one way towards another color on one layer, the effect will be offset when moving the slider the opposite way on another layer. Alternatively, moving the slider the same way on both layers will, in effect, move the hue further around the color wheel, resulting in a larger hue shift. Find out more information on Local Adjustments.

Adjusting a color range (Basic)

Select the color range for adjustment using either the Color Picker tool or by clicking on the range, or slice, in the 2-D color wheel. Up to 6 individual color corrections can be made. Note you can select individual color ranges from the menu below the sliders instead, or choose the global (small, multi-colored wheel) option when wanting to adjust all the colors at once (see below for more details). After selecting the range, the color is adjusted using the sliders. The Saturation slider allows adjustment at up to ±80%.

  1. Go to the Color inspector.
  2. Choose the Basic tab in the Color Editor tool.  
  3. Click on the Color Picker (see circled) and select a color from the image in the Viewer that is in need of correction. The targeted color range is displayed on the 2-D color wheel.
  4. Check mark View selected color range (see circled) to isolate the selected color range by automatically desaturating all other colors in the Viewer.
  5. The color wheel’s active selection is adjustable. Click and drag the two handles (located on the outer edge of the color slice) to narrow or widen the color range.
  6. Adjust the Smoothness slider as desired. The range of shading extending beyond the active perimeter of the selection denotes how smooth the transition will be between colors. The wider the range, the smoother the transition.
  7. Adjust the Hue (color), Saturation and Lightness sliders as desired. The color(s) will be adjusted instantly in the Viewer. The correction adjustment can also be assessed in the “before and after” panel swatches at the bottom of the dialog.

Removing color casts

The Basic Color Editor can quickly adjust all the colors in an image, instead of a narrow range, thereby correcting a color shift affecting the whole image. It is particularly useful, for example, when removing a color cast from artificial lighting. Use a Layer mask when correcting localized areas of an image. Note the image displayed shows the color wheel phase rotated 90-degrees, as per typical vectorscope layout used in high-end video color-grading software. It helps visualize the hue (color) wheel rotation involved when moving the Hue slider to shift to warmer or cooler colors.

  1. Go to the Color inspector.
  2. Select the Basic tab in the Color Editor tool.
  3. To select all the colors in the image, click on the bar with multi-colored wheel icon, located beneath the preset color selections. Ensure the bar is enabled (with a checkmark). The Color Wheel changes from a single wheel to display an inner (existing color) and outer (shifted color) wheel.
  4. Adjust the Hue slider while observing the effect on screen. Note moving the slider to the left shifts colors towards warmer colors (i.e., red), or to the right towards cooler colors (i.e., blue).
  5. Adjust the Saturation slider to suit. Note Lightness and Smoothness sliders are disabled.

Adjusting individual colors (Advanced) Pro

The Advanced mode works in a similar way to that of the Basic mode, however, the color picker’s selection range is more targeted and, once selected, it offers more control. Up to 30 individual color range corrections may be made to a single image. Note the selection is shown as the wire frame in the 2-D color wheel, along with direction arrows to guide adjustment.

  1. Go to the Color inspector.
  2. Choose the Advanced tab in the Color Editor tool.
  3. Use the Color Picker (see circled) to select a color from the image in the Viewer that is in need of correction.
  4. Check mark View selected color range (see circled) range to automatically desaturate all non-selected colors in the Viewer and preview the color range to be adjusted. 
  5. Pull and push the outer handles to alter the selection range. Fine tune the hue pick point using the inner handle, if necessary.
  6. Adjust the chosen color individually using the Smoothness, Hue rotation, Saturation and Lightness sliders. The color will be adjusted instantly in the Viewer. The adjustment can also be assessed in the “before and after” panel swatches at the bottom of the dialog.
  7. Add more adjustments by making additional selections with the color picker or by pressing the (+) icon.
  8. To delete a color edit, first highlight the selection in the list and press the (-) icon. 
  9. To view the effect of an individual edit, highlight the selection in the list and then toggle the check mark on and off.

Adjust all but one color Pro

The Color Editor's Advanced mode can be used to adjust all of the colors in the image except one, using the Invert Slice option. This can be useful when, for example, you want to preserve skin tones and need to adjust the color of everything else in the image.

  1. Go to the Color Tool Tab.
  2. Choose the Advanced tab in the Color Editor tool.
  3. Use the Color Picker to select a color from the image in the Viewer that is in need of correction.
  4. Check mark View Selected Color range to automatically desaturate all the other colors in the Viewer.
  5. Pull and push the border handles to alter the adjustable area.
  6. Adjust the Smoothness slider.
  7. Press the Invert Slice icon. (See circled). 
  8. Adjust the chosen color(s) using the Hue rotation, Saturation and Lightness sliders. The color(s) will be adjusted instantly in the Viewer.
  9. Add more adjustments by pressing the + icon.

Adjusting skin tones Pro

Like the Basic and Advanced modes, the Color Editor's Skin Tone mode is both intuitive and easy to use. It is also extremely powerful and can be used to make skin tones look brighter, natural and more pleasing but it can also be used to balance patchy areas of skin or the uneven application of make-up.

While the HSL amount sliders in the Skin Tone mode can be used in the same way as the other Color Editor tools, its real power lies in the uniformity sliders. However, the concept behind the uniformity tool works slightly differently to the other modes.

As with the Basic and Advanced color editor workflow, the color to be corrected must be defined to base the adjustments on. Unlike the usual workflow, however, you should aim to pick the color you wish to keep and expand the range using the wire frame to include hues which appear to be unwanted (e.g., for Caucasian skin, pick a neutral tone, and expand the range to the reds and yellows).

The uniformity tool uses this color pick in the hue selection as a reference. As the sliders are moved to the right, the colors in the range encompassed by the wire frame are adjusted towards the reference point, creating a more uniform color. A rough local adjustment mask on the skin tone area can be used to prevent the uniformity adjustment from affecting other areas of the image with the same color.

In addition to the 2-D color wheel’s built-in Hue slider, Saturation and Lightness sliders, located left and right respectively, can be used to fine tune the reference point (e.g., to warm, or to cool down, the skin tone). Note that the hue and saturation range automatically adjust to compensate for the repositioning of the respective reference point.

Note also that while the Skin Tone mode has been optimized for skin tones, it can be used for editing any color.

  1. Go to the Color Tool Tab.
  2. Choose the Skin Tone tab in the Color Editor tool.    
  3. Use the Color Picker to select a color from the image in the Viewer that is in need of correction. (It may help by enlarging an area of the face/skin to a 100% image view). 
  4. Adjust the Smoothness slider as necessary. Adjustment ensures that selectively changed colors get a natural look with smooth transitions.
  5. Refine the color range selection in the 2-D color wheel by clicking and dragging the individual components of the wire frame. A smaller selection range is more targeted, however working in larger areas of color will avoid giving an image an unnatural appearance. Note when removed from the dock the Color Editor is scalable for improved precision.
  6. Refine the color pick, or reference point, using the 2-D color wheel’s Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders, if necessary. Note the wheel’s Hue slider is built-in and adjusted using the center handle.
  7. Adjust the chosen color(s) using the Hue, Saturation, Lightness Amount and Uniformity sliders. Dragging the Uniformity sliders to the right adjusts the Hue, Saturation and Lightness in the selection range closer to that of the picked color. The color(s) will be adjusted instantly in the Viewer.

Save color scheme as ICC profile Pro

You can use the Color Editor tool to create custom ICC profiles for any camera model, and they can be applied to future editing sessions, like presets. ICC profiles created in Capture One can also be transferred to third party applications. This ensures consistent color as the new profile can be adopted throughout the entire workflow.

  1. Adjust all colors, as desired. 
  2. Press the presets icon and choose Save as ICC Profile...
  3. Name the new ICC profile. The new ICC profile is now stored in the Profiles folder.
  4. Add the new ICC profile to other images from the Base Characteristics tool in the ICC Profile drop down menu. The ICC profile is found in the Other section.

Save color scheme as preset

Color edits made with the Basic, Advanced and Skin Tone modes can be saved as a preset and applied to other images.

  1. Adjust all colors, as desired.
  2. Press the Manage Presets icon and choose Save User Preset... from the menu.
  3. Check mark the desired preset adjustments and press Save
  4. Name the new Color Preset profile. The new Color Preset is now stored in the Color Editor folder based in the Capture One Presets folder.
  5. Access and apply the new Color Preset to other images from the Manage Presets menu. (The new Color Preset can be found under the User Presets heading).

Creating a mask from a color selection

You can create a mask by a color range using any of the three selection modes available to the Color Editor tool. This option works well for a broad range of selection tasks from subjects with difficult to brush edges to those with blocks of color with clearly defined borders, however while that helps to target the selection for the creation of the mask, its success also depends on what kind of adjustment is to be applied. For example, a negative clarity adjustment used to smooth skin-tones doesn’t require a precise mask, whereas an exposure adjustment typically requires a much more targeted selection. Note that, like any mask in Capture One, it can tidied up using the brush easer (E).

  1. Go to the Color Editor tool and select the color or area intended for local adjustment on the image using the Color Editor tool’s color picker (pipette icon).
  2. When greater precision is required use the color picker from the Advanced or Skin Tone selection options or cursor group. To display the selected color range in the Viewer, click on View selected color range options.
  3. With the color selection highlighted in the Color Editor, click on the Color Editor tool’s Action menu button (… icon), and select Create Masked Layer from Selection. A dialog opens showing the progress of the creation of the mask.
  4. A new separate adjustment layer is created in the Layers tool, complete with a corresponding mask for that color selection.
  5. Tidy up areas not needed using the Erase brush (E).
  6. This mask can now be used to apply adjustments to.

Changing the color wheel layout

Capture One’s color wheels used in the Color Editor tool can be displayed with the chroma hue reference phase rotated 90-degrees to imitate a Vectorscope layout, as found on high-end video-editing software. Experience with this layout, with red near to the top, should be of benefit to anyone working regularly with video-editing software.

  1. Go to Capture One > Preferences (Mac) or Edit > Preferences (Windows). The Preferences dialog box opens.
  2. Click on the Color tool tab.
  3. Go to Color Wheels section and select the layout from the two options. Red to the right is the default. Red close to the top imitates a typical Vectorscope layout. The selection is made without the need to restart Capture One.
  4. To return to the default selection, repeat from step 1.