How to use the new LR / ACR “Point Color” tool

Adobe Lightroom (LR) and Camera RAW (ACR) recently added a new “Point Color” tool. It adds a completely new level of control for making precise color changes in your images.

There are now several ways to target and adjust color in ACR (and LR, I’ll just stop mentioning both now). Why did Adobe add yet another color tool? The key is the extra precision to select the exact hue / saturation / luminosity / tolerance you need to adjust. It’s quite a bit different from the previous tools and you’ll see how they compare in the video.

All these various tools are useful in different ways, and often complement each other very well. They offer various degrees of simplicity, control, and adjustment.

Here’s a quick comparison of the main color-specific tools in ACR:

  • Point color:
    • targeting:
      • a specific HSL combination (with custom tolerance)
      • global or local (may invert, subtract/intersect/add with masks)
      • based on the adjusted image, so it is sensitive to other edits: point color should be used LAST.
    • adjustment options: HSL
    • Ideal for: precise targeting for HSL adjustments.
  • Mixer:
    • targeting:
      • fixed hue ranges (no saturation / luminance / tolerance control)
      • global only
      • based on the global image adjustments (ignores color grade / local adjustments)
    • adjustment options: HSL
    • Ideal for: simple global HSL adjustments
  • Color range:
    • targeting:
      • a point or rectangular sample of “color” (no control over HSL tolerance)
      • based on the source image (ignores all global and local adjustments)
      • local (may invert, subtract/intersect/add with masks – and you can treat it like a global tool if needed by putting a linear gradientoff the edge of the image)
    • Adjustment options: same wide range of options available for any local mask. Most useful options typically include exposure, hue, and saturation (combining with point color is confusing and not typically beneficial)
    • Ideal for: local adjustments beyond HSL (such as clarity), predictable targeting (not sensitive to edits like Point Color).
The point color interface can be a little overwhelming at first. It includes (from top to bottom):
  • A color sampler (for new samples) and existing samples
    • You may add as many as you like, where each has a different target and adjustment.
    • Note that once you sample, there is no way to change the primary target without deleting the swatch.
  • a 2D plot for hue/saturation and a vertical luminosity strip:
    • little dot show the source you clicked (these cannot be moved)
    • larges dot showing the adjustment to make in H, S, or L
    • hold <alt/option> while clicking and dragging for smaller changes
    • hold <shift> to only change saturation
    • hold <ctrl/cmd> to only change hue
  • A solid 2-color bar showing the sampled color on the left, and the new adjusted output on the right (this of course shows both as the same color until you adjust the next sliders to make a change).
  • Hue, Sat, and Lum sliders. These are your actual adjustment, everything else is just refining the targeting.
  • A small mask icon.
    • Clicking this will visualize the targeting by leaving only those pixels in color.
    • Note that this can be a little confusing with local adjustments. Areas outside the rest of your mask remain in color. For example, if you target reds inside a radial gradient, you will see other colors outside the gradient.
  • and three middle sliders are all transforms to output (next to mask icon). This offers a quick way to adjusts the H, S, and L targeting tolerance all at once.
  • If you click the disclosure triangle (right of refine), you’ll see sliders for more precise control of H, S, and L targeting (these correspond directly to the HSL targeting boxes above, but offer tolerance control here).
    • The little dot in the bar matches
    • The central bar is fully targeted, and the lines show the extent to which each slider is feathered.
Greg Benz Photography