Photoshop Quick Tip: 8 Basic Elements of a Good Color Print


NOTE 07/15/23:  this is the fifth in a series of posts called “Photoshop Quick Tips” – In this and further “Quick Tip” posts, you’ll discover basic but fundamental aspects of Photoshop, presented in bite-sized pieces – – short, concise, succinct, and to-the-point – enjoy!

The “Quick Tip” video below is a snippet from one of my free live & online “Photoshop 101” Meetups – the full recording (& notes) can be found here:



So, what makes a good color print
and how do you use the basics of Photoshop to achieve it?

There are eight basic elements necessary in the making of a good color print, listed below, followed by the tool(s) in Photoshop to control that element – If you make proper use of these elements, then you end up with a good print.



A few definitions and explanations are in order:


•  Contrast:

Contrast is the difference in brightness between the light and dark areas of an image.

A high contrast image has a harsh look, typically having a lot of dark areas and a lot of light areas and very little mid-tones.  A low contrast image, by comparison, is flat, bland and lifeless — mostly mid-tones with very few dark areas and light areas.


•  What is color?

The dictionary defines it as “the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light.”

 So, the 3 main attributes/components of color are:   Hue, Saturation, and Luminance (Brightness).

  • Hue — Hue is a single color cast or color name.  Green is a hue, Orange is a hue, and so on.
  • Saturation — Saturation is the intensity, purity or amount of a hue. A pastel red is less saturated than a fire-engine red, lime green has more saturation than chiffon green, etc.
  • Luminance (Brightness) — Luminance is the amount of perceived brightness of a color.  The color black has no luminance, whereas the color white has the highest luminance.


What Makes a Photograph unique?

You’ll see that we’ll be able to control all of these elements in Photoshop, with the exception of the last one – Impact/Feel/CreativityThis is up to your skill and artistic interpretation as a photographer.

I like to call this the “WOW” Factor, because as you look at a strong image with impact, you want to say, “WOW!”.  It is my opinion that Photoshop, used properly, will take a good image and make it a very good image – – It will take a great image and make a “WOW” image.

So, how do you your increase your “WOW Factor” in an image?
Increase its uniqueness!
Ask yourself: What makes a photograph unique?

Here, according to John Szarkowski, are the 5 essential characteristics of Photography – concentrate on these, and you’ll increase your image’s uniqueness:

    • Subject (The Thing Itself)
    • Detail
    • Frame
    • Vantage Point
    • Time

For more resources on this subject, search:John Szarkowski – 5 Characteristics




•  AVAILABLE NATIONWIDE – for more on my free live & online Photoshop Meetups, click here:


•  More Photoshop videos at my YouTube Channel:


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•  By the way, this is all based on my Photoshop book designed for photographers, “Not just another Photoshop Book”, available exclusively on Amazon:


Questions? Please contact me – also, feel free to comment and forward this to your photography friends!


Thx again, and cheers,


John Watts 🙂





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