Posts Tagged ‘color correction’

Color Editing for Web Page Design

Posted by Martha DiMeo on May 15th, 2017 | No Comments

Color is contextual. Color exists, not as an isolated element, but rather, as part of a larger context. To that end, it’s important to be mindful of this design principle when retouching and color correcting photographs for web page design.

A recent project for the website provides a perfect example to illustrate the idea of  “color in context” and how the editing decisions for any one photograph can change based on the placement on the page and the juxtaposition of other photos in the layout. Let me show you what I mean.

Four images are used on the homepage as navigational elements. Previously, I had performed imaging work on all of the images, perfecting the color of each for its initial intended use.

Three paintings by Melody Phaneuf; Artist portrait by ©Martha DiMeo 2017 Paintings by Melody Phaneuf; Photo of the artist by Martha DiMeo © 2017

The still life, landscape, and house portrait were color-corrected to make print reproductions of the original paintings. Meticulous work was done to ensure the color in the print reproductions accurately represented the colors in the original piece of art.

The “Now Open” image, a portrait of the artist, had been used in an email promotion. The photo was nicely designed with its complementary color palette of yellow and violet. The only color correction required was a slight adjustment to the skin tones to remove a red color cast.

Separately, the color of each image was pleasing. In the case of the paintings, the photographs are excellent representations of the original artwork. However, that assessment changed when the images were placed together in the layout for the homepage of the site.

color-editing-web-page-design-beforeThe four images used as navigational elements on the homepage of
before color editing work was performed.

For the website, the images could no longer be evaluated solely on their individual merits. They needed to be reviewed as a group, in the sequence pictured above, and in the context of the entire page design.

Different Criteria

What is the visual linkage, the rhythm between the images? Is there a common color palette? Is the viewer’s eye directed from one image to the next? Is there unity that creates a pleasing and cohesive design? For the most effective page design, color evaluation now needed to be framed around these questions.

Review & Evaluation

The first three images share a common color palette. Although very different in subject matter, the palette of warm oranges and yellows, and soft blues and greens create visual linkage. The image that lacked unity in the sequence, that halted the viewer’s eye, was the “Now Open” photo. With the cool yellow of the sign, and the strong contrast of color created by the complementary color palette, it is extremely demanding and inharmonious in relation to the other images.

Creating Rhythm & Harmony

It was clear what needed to be done. The color range of the “Now Open” image needed to be compressed. The range needed to be nudged away from the complementary extremes. Instead of a contrast of color, it needed to move towards a gradation of color. By gradating color, the palette of the image would be closer to the palette of the other three images.

Three color editing moves accomplished the task. First, the cool yellow of the sign was made warmer. The color was moved towards the oranges in the still life painting. And the blue lettering of the sign towards the blue of the vessel in that painting.

Next the violet elements—the hydrangeas and woman’s top—were moved towards green and muted blue, complementing the greens and soft blue tones in the other three images.

before & after example showing color editing for page layoutBefore/After

By lowering the color contrast, the “Now Open” image is no longer demanding, no longer screaming for attention. The decibel level of the colors was lowered. As you can see in the Before/After comparison, the sequence now looks balanced. They hold together as a group. There is a rhythm and harmony allowing the viewer’s eye to gently move from one image to the next.

Color Edits & Visual Flow

Color harmony does not happen accidentally. But rather, it must be well-considered and implemented through a color editing process. As this example illustrates, for an effective design, color editing decisions made with a color strategy, and in the context of the entire layout, create a pathway to success.

To evaluate each image on its own, as separate from its placement on the page, will often lead to a false assessment. The overall design may suffer, simply because the demands of each image are too strong and the viewer becomes conflicted about where to look.

Creating a balanced and harmonious webpage layoutThe overall web page design. The edited image in the context of the homepage.

But, when color evaluation is informed by viewing the entire layout, allowing one aspect to dominate, and adjusting accordingly, the end result can remove barriers. This harmonizing of color creates a visual flow for the viewer to absorb the entire page with ease. The result is a more harmonious and cohesive design.

The End Result

Notice the dominant warm glow that pervades the adjusted color layout of the homepage. By subordinating conflicting color differences, the whole of the page is emphasized and becomes greater than its individual parts. In this way, color has rescued the design and the viewer has a pleasant experience.

© Martha DiMeo 2017



Did you find this blog informative? Will you now look at the sequencing and the juxtaposition of images with a new eye for creating color harmony? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment; let me know your thoughts.

Meet the Artist

Interested in learning more about the artwork shown here? Information about the artist Melody Phaneuf and the paintings can be found at these links. The title of the paintings as pictured in the homepage screenshot. Top: Annisquam Sunset. From left to right: J’ai la PêcheFog LiftingStonberg House, Gloucester, MA.



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ChromaQueen is a photo editing services company specializing in photo retouching, image manipulation, and color correction/color editing for print, web, and other digital media.

Color is Complex. Chroma Queen Can Help.



Flawless Reproductions~The Junction of Art & Technology

Posted by Martha DiMeo on March 27th, 2016 | No Comments

When reproducing artwork, whether 2D (paintings, drawings, illustrations) or 3D (ceramics, sculpture) the objective is always the same—to faithfully reproduce the artist’s intent.

This image, a photograph of the sculpture Inverted Collector, by artist Miriam Ellen Ewers, was needed for a gallery exhibition in Amsterdam. In lieu of displaying the actual sculpture, the photograph of the sculpture was exhibited instead.


Sculpture in Gallery Before Photo Retouching WorkBefore/After: Before image with markup of photo retouching instructions


Getting To Exhibition Quality

Three things needed to be done to get the photograph to exhibition quality. The first, and most obvious problem, was the severe color-cast. The second task was to eliminate the distracting elements in the background, as indicated on the “Before” image. Finally, the sculpture needed to be re-lit. The available light in the gallery, under which the image was captured, did not sufficiently showcase the piece. The contrast and tonal range needed improvement to describe the shape and form of the sculpture.

The imaging work to perform these three tasks was fairly involved. Nine adjustments layers, most with selective masking, were created in Photoshop to accomplish the color correction, contrast, and lighting modifications.

The retouching done to remove the lines in the ceiling, frames on the wall, and the imperfection in the floor was not especially difficult, but it did require a fair amount of time and attention to detail. Ensuring the retouching was invisible to the eye was my goal, making the time and effort well spent. The “After” image, below, represents the piece in a commanding way, worthy of display in an Amsterdam art gallery.


After Retouching, sculpture in gallery after color correction and retouchingBefore/After:  After retouching and color correction work was complete.

The Good News, Color Can Always Be Improved

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, with a photograph that has severely compromised color, the good news is color can always be improved. When the starting point is a good capture in terms of resolution, sharpness, and composition, then the color-balance, exposure, and lighting can always be refined. That is, when the image is in the hands of a skilled Photoshop Specialist. (Okay, a little shameless self-promotion tooting my own horn; but color is my speciality. :-)

Artistic and Technical

Art reproduction done well, is the intersection of artistic and technical skills. The measure of success is whether or not the reproduction is flawless and communications the artist’s vision. The Photographer and Digital Imaging Specialist must be mindful of the fact that each color in a piece of art is not by happenstance, but rather, a deliberate statement by the artist. In addition, when reproducing three dimensional artwork, an understanding and command of lighting, along with a keen eye for composition, is essential.

The process of art reproduction is highly technical requiring expertise in photography, lighting, color management, color evaluation, color correction, digital imaging, and printing. Nevertheless, when done to the highest standards, the benefits are tremendous. We, the viewing public, Art Lovers everywhere, are given the opportunity to enjoy and experience artwork as the artist intended.

Publishers & Artists

If you are a publisher of art books or art catalogs, an editor of an art-focused magazine, or an artist needing unrivaled reproductions of your work, ChromaQueen can help. See the  “ChromaQueen, lets talk” contact links below to get started.


More Before & After Fine Art Examples

Be sure to visit the Art Reproduction portfolio gallery to see more Before & After examples of fine art reproductions.


About the Artist

To see more sculptures by Miriam Ellen Ewers, visit her site at


© Martha DiMeo 2016
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Color Management is not Color Correction

Posted by Martha DiMeo on December 5th, 2013 | No Comments

In the webinar I presented to the Graphic Artists Guild titled Color Management for the Graphic Arts Professional, I highlighted a key concept—that color management is not color correction. It is a common misunderstanding that the two processes are thought to improve color, but in fact, they are two very different things.

Color correction is the process of making changes to the color—either overall or to a specific area—to improve the image. Color management concerns maintaining color appearance.

Color Correction vs. Color Management

If for instance, an image is in need of color correction because it has an overall color-cast, or if it needs selective color correction (i.e flesh tones are too red, a sky is heading toward purple, a color of a product is not accurately represented) a color-managed workflow will not compensate for the problem. If the color in an image is “bad” in some way, color management will dutifully reproduce the image as is. Displeasing color in, displeasing color out. Why is this?

Color correcting skin tones in portraits using PhotoshopIn this example, selective color correction was performed to remove the heavy red cast in the skin tones. A color-managed workflow does not compensate for colors that need to be color-corrected. Color correction must be done in Photoshop.  Retouching by Martha DiMeo; Digital Imaging Specialist 


Color Management’s Role

Color management’s role is to preserve color appearance. It doesn’t know if a color is “off”. Color management does not perform color or image evaluation. Only a human being can determine whether a color is not pleasing and should be amended.

Color management’s goal is to maintain consistent color appearance as the file moves through the digital workflow from capture to final output. If you do not want the “off” color maintained then the file must be color-corrected before passing it to the next step in the production workflow.

Photoshop's " Convert to Profile" dialog  box Photoshop’s ”Convert to Profile” dialog box. Color management’s job is to preserve color appearance when converting from one color space to another. In this example, the photo is being converted from the RGB color space of Adobe RGB 1998 to the CMYK color space of U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2.


With that said, to accurately evaluate whether color correction is needed, the file must be viewed on a calibrated and profiled monitor. If you are unfamiliar with monitor calibration and profiling, I  wrote an article for on monitor calibration for the Graphic Artists Guild, Spring 2013 newsletter. Contact me and I’ll  be happy to send you a copy of article.

No Bad Originals

I started this discussion by referring to images needing color retouching as “bad” originals. But in fact, most color problems can be fixed. Therefore, there are really no bad originals. If the color of an image is slightly or drastically “off”, know this– in the hands of a Digital Imaging Specialist  skilled in color correction most color and tonal problems can be corrected. To get a sense of the magic that can be done to improve seemingly bad images, take a look at some of the examples I highlight in the Improving Stock portfolio gallery as well as many of the other images featured throughout the ChromaQueen site.

In conclusion, remember—to communicate color accurately with everyone in the production workflow and maintain color appearance, a color-managed workflow is vital. But, if you don’t like what you see when you open the image on your display for the first time, work with a skilled Photoshop/ Color Specialist to achieve correct color before moving forward with the design and layout of the project.

© Martha DiMeo 2013


More on Color Management

You may also be interested in an earlier blog post, The Color Management Series–Perception & Our Environment. Discover how our eyes trick us. You may not be seeing the color you think you’re seeing.

Color Management Resources

Visit the Resources + More page for more information, helpful links, and PDF downloads on color perception, color management, and digital color reproduction.


Color Management Consulting Services

Frustrated with not getting the color you desire from screen to print? Want to learn more about color management? I work one-to-one with graphic designers and photographers. Visit the Services>Color Management Consulting page for information on my color management consulting services and to schedule a time to chat.


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Taking Stock—Improving Stock Photography for Optimum Reproduction

Posted by Martha DiMeo on June 1st, 2013 | 1 Comment

Demand for stock imagery has increased exponentially. According to the 26th Annual Stock Visual Survey—sponsored by iStockphoto and published last fall in GD USA magazine—stock visuals as a creative resource have progressed from marginal to mainstream to indispensable.

The Numbers

Some very significant numbers came out of the report:
—98% of creatives reported using stock imagery
—70% reported using stock imagery more than 20 times during the course of the year,
—1 in 3 creatives reported using stock imagery more than 100 times in that same year

Improving  Stock Photography

That’s a lot of stock photography. And, it is being used for good reason. It offers many advantages to the digital workflow that now shapes the graphic design business. Specifically—choice, accessibility, convenience, affordability, and short turnaround times.

But, there is one tenuous aspect with stock photography—reproduction quality. The file you receive may not be optimized for your specific reproduction needs—whether for digital media or the high demands of print. Seldom, if ever, should a stock photograph go into a final design piece without being adjusted. I make this recommendation from experience. Hundreds and hundreds of stock photos have crossed my desk for review.

Stock Options—When Content is Right, But Color is Wrong

In the GD USA article, one unnamed designer—speaking to the availability of imagery—was quoted as saying “If you need something that’s technically correct, there is a limited range.” This is something that designer may not know—if the image is sharp and resolution is suitable for the enlargement needed, a skilled imaging professional may be able to diagnosis and fix other technical problems. Before discounting an image you really want to use, consider having it reviewed by a Digital Imaging Specialist who specializes in color correction. There are many things that can be done to improve color, tone, and contrast.

Photo editing; Before & After retouching example showing improvement to color and tonal range
Before/After, Improving Stock Photography. The image was selectively lightened, the flesh tones
and the blue of the water and sky were brought to a more pleasing color balance by removing
the undesirable red color cast. Photo by Martha DiMeo. Available for Licensing

Before/After Examples

In the portfolio photo gallery Improving Stock you’ll find many examples of images that were not just improved but “saved”. It would have been a total disaster had some of the images featured  gone to press before being tone and color-corrected. From a white cat that was nicely composed but inadvertently under-exposed, to landscapes lacking contrast and definition, there are a variety of examples that illustrate what can be done to improve stock photography.

Maximizing Color, Detail, and Visual Impact

As a Digital Imaging Specialist, my role in the creative process is that of a problem-solver. When working with graphic designers, photo researchers, or photo editors, my task to get the image to an optimum state for reproduction. My goal is to eliminate the need for additional photo research when the photo at hand is the photo the design team would ideally like to use. A designer should not have to disqualify an image for technical considerations that can be corrected.

Before & After photo retouching of stock photograph, country road, photo by Martha DiMeo
Before/After, Improving Stock Photography. The dusty dirt road was hidden in the shadows.
Colors were brought to a warmer, more neutral color balance, and “God’s Light” was emphasized.


Free Image Evaluations offers a free, no obligation image evaluation service. A conversation early in the design process will contribute to achieving outstanding results. Use the Upload File link found on every page to submit your photographs for review.

Related Topic

If you are planning on building a color palette from a photograph, it is imperative to begin with an image that is color-balanced and properly exposed. Read more about the process in the blog post Color Selection in the Page Design Workflow.


© Martha DiMeo 2013


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Color-Coded Kids—Color’s Role in Visual Communication

Posted by Martha DiMeo on February 12th, 2013 | No Comments

I recently read that throughout the 19th century, babies of both genders were dressed in long white gowns. It is only in the last century that American babies have worn color. The article would not have caught my eye had it not been for a photo request I had received earlier in the month.

A stock agency was soliciting images of infant girls with their grandmothers. Short of a bow-festooned headband or a dinosaur emblazoned onesie, how does one tell the sex of a infant? Of course, the answer is, we color-code our kids. There is no mistaking that in our society a baby dressed in pink is more than likely a girl and a baby clothed in blue is most likely to be a boy. (In the same article a children’s clothing executive was quoted in 1959 saying “A mother will allow her girl to wear blue, but Daddy will never permit his son to wear pink.) I wonder if that still holds true in 2013. But I digress.

Is Blue Just For Boys?

Getting back to the stock photo request—in my files I had this sweet and tender photo of a grandmother with her infant grandson. The pose, composition, and emotional tone were a match to the photo request. But, the blue onesie would not pass muster to communicate a female infant. The garment needed to be changed to either a feminine color, or at least a  gender-neutral color. Favoring a harmonious palette, I shied way from pink and choose the gender-neutral green to coordinate with the grandmother’s garment. Now, with a unisex color for the baby’s sleepwear, the perception of the baby’s gender would be left to the viewer to surmise—or in the case of a published photo—possibly revealed in the tagline or caption.

Changing the color of clothing; Photoshop photo retouchingWhen changing the color of clothing in Photoshop, edge control is key to obtaining successful results. Photo by © Martha DiMeo Available for Licensing

An unanticipated bonus of the color change is the focus it brought to the subject’s faces. By changing the blue garment to green, then lightening the faces, and removing the red color cast, the photograph is now truly about the facial expressions and the tender moment shared between a grandparent and grandchild.


©Martha DiMeo 2013


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More Examples of Color Replacement

Visit the Product + Catalog portfolio gallery (photo # 8) to see how one garment was changed to four different colors.


Does the Color Match the Message?

How is color being used in your design? Would changing the color of objects in the photograph more effectively communicate the intended message or elicit a different response in the viewer?

Links to learn more about color psychology and color symbolism.

from Daily Infographic

The Psychology of Colors
Color-Fooled: Visual Stimulus and Marketing

from Business Insider

How Brands Use The Psychology Of Color To Manipulate You


Visual Color Symbolism Chart by Culture