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In this guide we are going to analyse all the aspects of colour optimisation, accompanied by examples and as well as a step by step photoshop guide. So lets start. 

What is colour optimisation?

With colour optimisation, we improve the colour scheme of an image by adjusting the brightness and contrast. When looking at an object, you must decide what editing needs to be done to increase its visibility. In the image on the right we need to brighten up the object to see the label clearer. 

A before and after example of product colour optimisation.

Importance of lighting when it comes to photographing your product images.

 The quality of the image is largely determined by the available light from the surroundings. The more light, the more information can be transmitted to the image. This means that it’s harder to take high-quality pictures in low light. Since it’s not always possible to distribute light to an object evenly, colour optimisation could help you fix those problems.

Generally, it’s important to understand how different lighting equipment reflects its own hue of colour. This could drastically change the look of your product and a result, the product might appear discoloured compared to how it looks in reality. 

For example, a white cup is photographed in a small photo studio. There is weak lighting towards the subject. Due to the lack of strong lighting, the cup appears grey rather than white. Therefore, there wasn’t enough light to completely transmit the colour information as white. Colour optimisation makes it possible to make the image brighter and increases the contrast. This way it can be ensured that the customer perceives the product image as a white cup and not as a grey one.

The extent to which the image can be edited afterwards depends on the general image quality, such as resolution and sharpness. A blurred image can be brightened and the contrast can be increased, but this does not mean that the quality will be improved.

You are also able to increase the ISO value on the camera to make the camera sensor more sensitive to light, but this could reduce the sharpness of the image quality and produce “noise”.

How to: Colour optimisation in Photoshop.

The term colour optimisation describes the combination of different processes aimed to improve the image quality. Colour optimisation can be done a few different ways in photoshop. Below we look at 3 tools that can be used for colour optimisation. 

1. Levels

2. Curves

3. Brightness/ Contrast

The following 3 methods can be found in the main menu under “Image” and “Adjustments”.

1. Colour optimisation through adjusting levels

The tonal range of an image can be edited by adjusting the input and output Levels. You can edit the channels red, blue and green individually from the dropdown. You are able to adjust the input and out levels by moving them closer together and further apart. 

Levels can be found on the main bar under ”Image”, and then under ”Adjustments”

The level settings which correct the tone of an image.
By applying different numbers on the boxes, the levels will change.

2. Colour optimisation through Curves

By using the curves you can also manipulate the tonal range of an image, but it’s more complex than the level setting and gives you more precise control. You can also improve the brightness and contrast of the image. Each channel can also be selected individually by clicking on the Channel option. The presets can be selected when you need a quick fix, but depending on the purpose of the editing, this might not be the best solution. You can also edit the image using the curve in the settings options. It’s possible to add a point diagonally by clicking with the mouse. For example, if you move the curve to the upper left area, the image is brightened, but if you move it to the lower right area, the image becomes darker. 

Curves can be found under ”Image” –  ”Adjustments” – “Curves”

When the curve goes upwards, the image will get lighter and when moved down the image goes darker. 

3. Colour optimisation through Brightness / Contrast

This option also works with the tonal values, but the scope is significantly reduced than in the two previous examples. To brighten up an image move the slider to the right and to the left to make darker. You can reduce or increase the contrast by slider the “Contrast” slider. When using this method, it should be noted that it applies evenly to the entire image.

Brightness and Contrast can be found on the main bar under ”Image”, and then under ”Adjustments”

The Brightness and Contrast settings.

Example using colour optimisation through combination of tonal value and Brightness / Contrast

In this example, colour optimisation was carried out using a combination of tonal value correction, brightness and contrast correction settings. This technique helped to bring out the teapot’s colours, making it appear more vibrant. Below, you can find the exact settings used to achieve this result.

The menu found on the right of the screen. We are going to use two of the adjustments to change the tonal value, and the brightness & contrast.

Steps for Tonal Value Correction through Levels.

Choose the circled icon to open the level adjustment settings.

 The tonal value correction settings that help the distribution of tones. 


Steps for Brightness / Contrast Correction.

Choose the circled icon to open the brightness/contrast settings.

The brightness/contrast correction settings used to increase lighting and make the colours pop. 

The second image showcases an example of combining different colour correction techniques to achieve the optimal results. The colours are vibrant and there is more lighting overall.


All of the above methods can be added to the setting as layers to a file. The parameters can be changed later on. Furthermore, it is possible to apply the changes only to certain parts of the image using the layer masks. This would make it possible to adjust the colour optimisation later if the file is saved as an open format with layers (e.g. TIF or PSD).