In this tutorial, you will learn the difference between Saturation and Vibrance in Photoshop.
Table of contents
You can get the tutorial image from Adobe Stock.
The Difference Between Saturation and Vibrance in Photoshop
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment Layer.
On the Properties Panel, you will see three sliders.
Hue, Saturation, and Lightness. Obviously this uses the HSL color mode, which we will discuss further later in the tutorial.
By increasing it to its maximum to +100, all the color of the image will increase intensity.
Since the Saturation slider increases the intensity on all pixels in equal amounts, it creates banding of colors, and it over-saturates skin tones. As you can imagine, this is not the best solution for making the colors in your photos more vivid.
Next, take a look at the Vibrance adjustment layer.
From the Properties panel, adjust the Vibrance by increasing the slider up to +100.
Right away, you’ll notice how the colors look more vivid but do not reach the point of oversaturation as what happened by increasing the Saturation to the maximum in the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.
Even if the red top is already saturated and you increase Vibrance to the maximum you’ll notice minimal banding.
Even with the Vibrance set to the maximum value, the skin still looks great because it protects skin tones and already saturated pixels.
In most cases, the Vibrance adjustment layer will be the best option for adding saturation to your photos.
Saturation vs. Saturation – Same Name Different Results
Both the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and the Vibrance adjustment layer have a “Saturation” slider, but they do not give you the same results.
If you drag the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to bring the Saturation slider to the minimum at -100,
you’ll see how the bars with the color gradients completely turn into gray, and now all look the same.
The reason for this is that the brightness is the same all across the board, but the difference is only with the hue and saturation.
When the hue and saturation are removed from the equation, Photoshop makes all the grays the same.
This adjustment layer uses the HSL color mode, which was created in a time when you had to specify colors numerically, and it isn’t particularly representative of how the human eye actually views color.
If you do the same with the Vibrance adjustment layer, decrease the Saturation slider to the minimum at -100.
You’ll notice that there are varying shades of gray.
The Vibrance adjustment layer uses the HSB color mode, which is a system designed to interpret how the human eye perceives color.
To the human eye, blue always looks darker than yellow even when it has the same saturation and brightness levels.
When the image is desaturated this perception is kept in the black and white image—making blue darker than yellow.
That sums up the difference between Saturation and Vibrance and hopefully, you found this helpful enough to apply your learnings by tagging #PTCvids on your latest edits!