How to Use Color Grading Panel in Lightroom

Lightroom’s color grading panel can transform images completely. Kevin Raposo, a photographer, has created a short tutorial that demonstrates the power of these tools.

The split toning tab was previously known as the Lightroom color grading tool. It was first introduced in 2020. Raposo adds in the video that Lightroom’s color wheels are more like what professional video editors use in a workflow.

Color wheel in Lightroom

Users can now change the color of highlights, mid-tones and shadows. Previously, color mixing was restricted to highlights and shadows.

You can control the color wheel by selecting a color you want to add to one of the three ranges. The outer circle can then be rotated around the wheel to find the correct color. Next, you will need to introduce the color into the image using the central circle responsible for saturation.

Color wheel in Lightroom

Raposo suggests that you remember to hold the “shift” key while changing the saturation. This will ensure that the circle does not accidentally move around on the color wheel, and it doesn’t change the chosen hue.

You can adjust the luminance by moving the slider below each color wheel. The slider can be moved to the right to increase visibility for the hue in the specific tonal range, while the slider can be moved to the left to decrease visibility.

Two sliders are located below the color wheels, “blending” or “balance.” This slider controls how much highlights and mid-tones overlap with each other. The transitions between the three colors will be smoothest at 100. On the other end, transitions will be visible more difficult.

Color wheel in Lightroom

The balance slider controls which tonal range is prioritized. Slide to the left and shadows will be prioritized. Colors will shift in this direction. Highlights are prioritized on the right.

HSL values can also be viewed and edited by hovering over each wheel. Users who need more precision can click into each wheel by clicking in the panel above. You can also add five additional colors to each color wheel, which you can reuse later.

Raposo says this is helpful for matching a color scheme between images. He clicks, holds the eyedropper tool down, and drags the tool over the shadows in one photograph. He can now use the same color to add it to shadows on another image.

Global adjustments can be made by the last wheel on the top panel. This color wheel can be used to add one color to an entire image. For example, it could be used for adding a sepia tone.

An image can be transformed by understanding the basics of color grading tools. The Lightroom’s old split toning tab was not as intuitive or extensive. Now photographers have powerful tools to modify images without having to use Photoshop.