Photoshop LAB Color, Tenth Anniversary Edition

by Dan Margulis on July 6, 2015

The tenth-anniversary edition of Photoshop LAB Color: The Canyon Conundrum and Other Adventures in the Most Powerful Colorspace is now available for pre-order here; the supposed publication date is 25 July. I attended the pressrun in late June, which came out well. It’s now just a matter of when the bound copies get to the warehouse.

The first edition of Canyon Conundrum held up better than any of my other works, with the possible exception of Modern Photoshop Color Workflow, about which it is too early to tell. Its basics are all sound and there were not too many misconceptions.

Ten years, however, is ten years. We’ve made a lot of progress in that time. When Peachpit Press approached me to do this edition, my preliminary assessment was that a third to a half of the first edition should be replaced. It wound up being close to 80 percent, and it’s a considerably longer book as well.

Being completely LAB-centric, it is not intended to replace Modern Photoshop Color Workflow. There is inevitably some overlap, particularly in use of the LAB-based actions, MMM and Color Boost. Certain concepts are mentioned briefly in one book and in extended form in the other.

If you already have and like the first edition then the second should be worth it for you. If you are considering the new CC book vs. MPCW, here is a summary of how they differ. I would summarize that if you are unfamiliar with what LAB can do you will get more immediate gratification out of CC. Also, if you are a top expert, LAB offers some enticing possibilities. For those in the middle, MPCW shows how to grind through a lot of images with a major increase in quality.

EXTENDED COVERAGE IN BOTH BOOKS
• The concept of intentionally creating too much color in order to cut back.
• Blending multiple versions to create a better result than any one of them.
• Using LAB to evaluate whether a color is “wrong”, even if the file itself is not in LAB.
• The uses for and options within the MMM action.
• Strong coverage of Blend If (which usually is executed in LAB).

EXTENDED COVERAGE IN MPCW ONLY
• The PPW defined.
• Walkthrough, time and again, of the entire workflow.
• How humans perceive color.
• Uses and misuses of a gray card.
• Thorough coverage of the PPW panel.
• Long discussions of sun-shade and similar situations where the image is divided into two parts by the lighting.
• Thorough coverage of RGB channel blending to gain contrast before moving into LAB
• Explanation of the inner workings of the MMM action.
• The Shadows/Highlights command.
• The H-K action to selectively darken neutrals.
• Handling of skies.
• Portrait considerations: when is contrast needed?
• The Bigger Hammer action in detail.
• Multiplication through layer masks, including treatment of false profiles.
• The choice of channel to use as a base for a mask.
• Camera Raw/Lightroom considered in the context of a workflow.
• The sharpening action deconstructed.

EXTENDED COVERAGE IN CC2E ONLY
• The basic LAB curve form and how to vary it.
• The concept of simultaneous contrast and its ramifications.
• Thorough explanation of LAB’s structure, including channel-identification quizzes.
• When changing the original hue is acceptable to the viewer.
• Extended discussion of what color-blind people really see (picked up from first edition)
• Elimination of casts using LAB.
• Thorough discussion of sharpening, including half a chapter on LAB’s relationship to Neo- Impressionist art, rated by the beta readers as the most stimulating chapter in the book.
• Uses of LAB in forensic imaging.
• How to use LAB to make selections and masks.
• Using LAB to impart warmth to an image.
• Half a chapter on how RGB and LAB achieve different results in Color and Luminosity modes.
• A complete chapter written by the beta readers, describing how they themselves use LAB.
• How to change color of a product (e.g. turn a green product red).
• Uses of imaginary colors in retouching.
• LAB’s overall advantage in retouching.
• How to colorize a B/W photo (i.e. make it look as if originally shot in color).
• An entirely new chapter on LAB noise reduction.
• Advanced LAB curving.
• A chapter on editing video in Photoshop.
• LAB as an interchange standard in color management.
• Using the A and B as blend sources.
• Portrait considerations: can there be a recipe?

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

George Entenman

I just received the 1st edition of the book with a broken CD. Is there any way to download the files so that I can follow along?

Dan Margulis

George,

Unfortunately no. The second edition has a download area (no bound-in CD) but the first edition did not. It is amazing to think that 11 years ago, when the first edition came out, we could not count on users having a serious enough connection to be able to download half a gigabyte.

George Entenman

Oh well. I’m getting so much out of the book that I may have to spring for the new edition with downloads. 😉

It sure is fun (and confusing) playing with LAB color. I wish my eyes would decide what they want to see!

Thanks for the quick response.
— ge

George Entenman

Peachpit Press just sent me a link to a zip file with all the files in it! I’m impressed!

OPTIMO

Dear Marglis, I found skin often become terrible, and hard to be correct after several adjustments in LAB. I always resort to tools such as selective color, Hue/saturation. Is there something l should pay attention to when dealing with portrait ? And in many cases, the skin value in CMYK you recommended looks strange or even can hardly be achieved .

Dan Margulis

Optimo,

“Terrible and hard to correct” is not a specific enough description of a problem for me to be able to comment on it.

OPTIMO

The face usually tend to be too red or yellow while other part of picture seems normal. And sometimes some area of face appear too yellow with other area looks normal.

Dan Margulis

Optimo,
LAB, like Camera Raw, Photo-Paint, a camera, or any other object or software that manipulates digital images, is capable of producing *bad* images if misused. Without specific information as to what you did, I cannot guess which of the thousands of possibilities caused this result.

peter dann

Hello, out of fascination and interest I just bought your second edition.
I know nothing about lab.
Have I made a mistake?
I know a reasonable understanding of colour management, have a A3 canon printer and PS3 and lightroom 6
Thanks
Peter

Dan Margulis

Peter,

Since you have invested in the book, I assume you will read it, after which time you will know better than I do whether you have made a mistake.

Some of the the material is admittedly quite difficult, but the first halves of the first seven chapters are aimed at people who are not expert in Photoshop, let alone LAB. So, lack of experience with LAB should not be an issue.

Happy reading!

Guy Perkins

Hello Dan,

I just noticed CC2E. (Glad it’s not the year 2027.) I own and have worn out MPCW, but never owned or read CC1E.

Thank for the above comparison. Just bought CC2.

My very best always,
Guy

billy b

Hi!
I have been working my way through the first five chapters of Modern Color Workflow. It is terrific stuff and I am getting a lot out of it. My question today is about another of your books, Professional Photoshop, 5th edition. Are the two books complementary to each other or is MCW in effect an update of the earlier book? To be more direct, I have limited funds and cannot figure out whether it would be beneficial to purchase the earlier book after I have exhausted MCW (or after it has exhausted me!).

Best,
Bill

Dan Margulis

Bill, I don’t think there is any hurry for this decision, because MPCW does get harder as you go deeper into it.

It is not intended as a replacement for PP5E, and none of the content is duplicated, but PP5E is now more than a decade old. You might find it of interest to see how the ideas have developed since then. I would think, though, that Photoshop LAB Color 2E (2015 edition) might be a more practical choice *unless* you happen to want to work in CMYK, in which case PP5E is still the way to go.

Gene Jacques

Can a step by step video be made explaining the creation of the Hk effect and making a eratsz black from the RGB channels.
Or where can one point me to get the info
Best
gene

Dan Margulis

Gene, the H-K action is the topic of Chapter 13 of Modern Photoshop Color Workflow. There is also a 14-page PDF documenting what it does. To access it, within the PPW Panel choose Help. A new dialog opens that lets you access the documentation for H-K or any other action.

Gene Jacques

Dear Dan
Thank you for your taking time to respond ,
I tried to wrap my head around it to getting to make a ersatz black from a RGB file
Does the HK main use is to Suppress certain colours in a image like can i suppress only a green in a image do i understand this
Thank you
Gene

Dan Margulis

Gene,
The H-K action has two functions, you can use either, both, or none. First, it makes neutral or near-neutral things darker, which often is useful aesthetically. Second, it poisons color, but near-neutrals more than purer ones. This is useful when the image features some bright things, but objects of lesser importance are competing with them. After running this part of H-K you can run Color Boost to restore the pure colors, and the more neutral ones won’t come back because the action will have made them much grayer.

P. H. Lasky

Dan,
Are there any other actions/scripts in PPW4 that reduce color saturation prior to applying the CB/MMM script ?

billy b (again)

Hi! I recommended your Modern Photoshop Color Workflowbook to my friend and he says he cannot find it for sale online…except for Amazon where it is over $300 USD. Hey, it’s a great book but WTheck?

Please advise.

Best,
Bill

Dan Margulis

@P.H. Lasky, the Skin Desaturation action aims at trying to avoid beet-red fleshtones when CB/MMM is applied. We generally have a much higher tolerance for “unrealistically” pure colors in things other than fleshtones.

Dan Margulis

@Bill, Amazon had a run on copies of the book and temporarily was out of stock, leaving only the second-hand vendors who wanted $300. The situation is now rectified and the book can be purchased at the normal price of $75, new, not used.

Gene Jacques

Dear Dan

Thank you again..

I have two request
Is there a tone mapping technique or step and also a method applying Local contrast adjustments in the PPW method using the same methods you use without using any plugins but rather building it your self like you do for every step i.e. via unsharp , using channels gaussian blurring and using blend modes so a more manual or organic way so to say :)

The Tone mapping is mostly on a single clicked image using the PPW steps not using any Plugins but just the simple above techniques like in PPW.

Thank you

Kind Regards

Gene Jacques

Dan Margulis

Gene,

You would have to define what you mean by “tone mapping” and by “local contrast adjustments”.
They mean different things to different people, but by the most common definitions they are already included in step 2 of the PPW.

Chick Piper

Yippee! Lab 2nd edition – just ordered it from Amazon. Can’t wait. The first edition was just great.

Jeff Holdgate

Hi Dan, I bought your book, hoping to be able to access the videos, sadly, I can’t access them, don’t know why – do I need a code or something?
Also, today I installed the latest Photoshop (2015.5) & find that the PPW panel no longer fully works ! Is a reinstall required ?

Best regards

Jeff

Dan Margulis

Jeff,

The videos are accessible here although you do have to register.

Photoshop 2015.5 is the fourth consecutive “upgrade” that has broken many important plugins, including ours. There already is a workaround way to get it to work but we expect a new installer shortly. Check out the up-to-date details here.

Guy Perkins

Hello Dan,

Wait. For several months now – seems like years – the alt click option with the Bigger Hammer, MMM + CB and Sharpen 2015 have not worked for me, despite reinstalls, etc. What’s more, when I alt clicked these buttons, PS 2015 and 2014 froze so badly I had to open another app to force quit it. (Giuliana has follow-up faithfully with me about this, btw.) I’m on a Mac.

With the birth of 2015.5, this issue disappeared – no doubt because of Giuliana’s influence over Adobe. Not only has the issue disappeared, the panel has never worked better or more efficiently.

Don’t do anything. (-:

My best always,

Guy

Jeff Holdgate

Thanks for the response, Dan. I’l wait for the new installer. However I can’t see where I register to allow access to the videos, on the page link you mentioned.

Best regards

Jeff

Dan Margulis

Jeff, Sorry to take so long to reply, I have checked with several users and found that there is no longer any block or registration required to view the videos. Flash, however, must be active.

Jeff Holdgate

Thanks Dan, much appreciated
Jeff

MP

Hello Dan,
Greetings from India !!!
I am almost halfway through the Professional Photoshop: The Classic Guide to Color Correction (fifth edition), and to sum up the experience in one word: ‘enlightenment’. The concepts and ideas presented in the book are WOW! (though I have to read the chapters a couple of times to fully understand the topic.)
I purchased the book via Amazon Kindle, but later found that the exercise files are not available for Kindle edition. Can you please provide a link for those exercise files, so the learning is more cohesive, rather than finding suitable images for practice.

I work in the field of gravure packaging prepress (the work is more CMYK + special colour centric), hence I also ordered the hard copies of Professional Photoshop 5th & 6th edition plus MakeReady: A PrePress Resource, as those are more prepress and CMYK centric, and most of the content is revised and updated between versions. I am sure they will help me a longway in the evergreen field of packaging printing.

Best regards,
MP.

Max Bounan

Hi Dan
Anymore tutorials videos coming anytime soon from you , you are the best
MB

Dan Margulis

MP, first I am very happy that you are getting something out of PP5E. Having to read the book several times is not unusual.
We have made the exercise files available online, but due to their size, there are three separate links; if you need every chapter then you must download all three.
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

Dan Margulis

Max, My wife does not agree with your evaluation. That aside, I have no current plans for more videos, sorry.

MP

Dear Dan,

Thank-you very much for making exercise files available online for Professional Photoshop (5th Edition).

Are there any plans to release the latest book on colour corection: ‘Modern Photoshop Color Workflow’ on Kindle platform ?

Best Regards,
MP

Dan Margulis

MP, we are not going to release an electronic version of MPCW.

James Shewmaker

Dan Margulis,

Unless I misunderstood what you wrote (which has often happened in both the 2005 and the 2015 editions) I have a bone to pick with you about the first paragraph of the explanation on page 392.

(I did get the quiz right on pages 385 (text of quiz) and 387 (images) correct before I looked at page 392. As I explain below.)

What do you mean by the statement: “In fact, it can’t be blue at all.”?

If you are speaking of flowers in general this is an absurd statement. Many flowers are blue.

If, on the other hand, you mean that by the process of deductive elimination based upon the pictures found on page 387, then I would AGREE with you that these channel pictures do not permit blue flowers because of 17.6C.

But both Green flowers and Blue flowers do exist in nature.

How I solved the Quiz.

I began by seeking to identify leaves. since leaves must have a negative A content during the time of year when flowers are blooming, and since green colored flowers are unusual, I decided to assume that these flowers were not green. This is a dangerous assumption because Green flowers do exist: http://blog.interflora.co.uk/top-10-green-flowers/
But I thought that it was unlikely that you had chosen green flowers. Therefore I chose 17.6A as being negative A. It would have been amusing if you had used Green flowers but I do not think that you would have found it easy to produce a channel similar to 17.6A with a plant which has green flowers.

The leaves needed to have a B positive component which caused me to deduce that 17.6C had to be the B positive component.

I also deduced (and later found that you made the same point) that the idea of blueish-yellow or yellowish blue flowers is ludicrous therefore 17.6B could not be B negative and therefore 17.6D was B negative, leaving only A positive as a candidate for 17.6B

James Shewmaker

Dan Margulis

James,

Both of your examples rely on selective deletions that change the meaning of what I wrote.

1) I wrote:
“A flower can be bright yellow, for example, but it can’t be bright blue at the same time. In fact, it can’t be blue at all.”

This nowhere states that flowers can never be blue. It states that bright yellow flowers can never be blue.

2) Similarly, I never said that green flowers are impossible in nature. Indeed, some cacti have yellowish-green blooms, but they are quite dull. What I said was that natural flowers are “never bright green…brilliant green flowers are impossible. [emphasis added]”

I am glad that you were able to solve the quizzes nevertheless, that’s the important part!

Ron Goren

Dan

I installed PPW 4.1.1 on 2 machines running CC 2017. On my Mac Book Pro 2012 it works fine. On my 2013 iMac when i use any Hammer an error arises: “Exception: typeError: Undefined is not an object”.

I deinstalled and reinstalled for both prior to use and tries again on the iMac

Thanx

Ron

Dan Margulis

Ron,
This does not provide enough information for us to be able to assist. Please go to
http://www.moderncolorworkflow.com/troubleshooting-ppw-panel-for-cc2015-v-4-0-6
and give us the answers about the specifics of your system and an exact description of the problems you are having. The questions we need responded to are found under
“If you have what appears to be a successful installation and can open the panel, but certain features aren’t working properly”

Ron Goren

Dan I sent my answers in. Funny it all works great on the Mac Book Pro running the same software

Ron Goren

AhHa! I reinstalled PS I meant to remove PPW first but didn’t. I kept my preferences. After the reinstallation everything works!

Go figure

Thanx

Ron

Bruce zhang

Hello Dan
l am your international reader who is from China l am crazy about your books so l bought them all.Rently l am reading the Photoshop LAB Color 2nd.lt is difficult for me to download the book resoures.So it impact my improvements. Please tell me the download area
Thanks
Bruce

Dan Margulis

Bruce, Thanks for the post, I’m glad you’re enjoying the books.

The resources for the second edition of Photoshop LAB Color reside on the publisher’s site. The procedure for downloading them is detailed in the book in a box called “Support Materials” on Page 5.

Good luck with the continued learning!

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