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I've noticed that to generate slightly different "versions" of a color that look good together, either of the following two methods works well:

  • Bump the saturation UP and brightness DOWN
  • Bump the brightness UP and the saturation DOWN

I've also noticed the latter is what happens as you decrease the opacity of that color if it's on a white background.

Clearly there's something to saturation/brightness moving in opposite directions. What is it called and where can I learn more?

Thanks :)

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It sounds like you might be talking about a series of colours that have the same chroma but different value. See my Fig. 1.2.7 on this page: http://www.huevaluechroma.com/012.php

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Not sure if this is what you're looking for but for color adjustments, Levels and Curves are very good tools. And the term you might be looking for could be "levels".

The brightness/contrast could be considered a shortcut command that moves at the same time many levels and tones of colors, if I can explain it in this way. And the saturation is like boosting up the intensity of color with the contrast as well, so that could be considered as a shortcut command as well. They're practical but don't give you much information on what you're exactly doing to your colors, and saturating the colors too much or playing in this way with contrast can create over saturation and "break" your image. That's the problem with the brightness/contrast and saturation commands; they're nice shortcuts but you're working blindly with your colors, and sometimes you might want to have more control on ONE color/tone and not all of them at the same time.

With the levels, you can move individually each channel/color and their tones. It's a very precise tool when you learn how to use it. You can get to similar results as the commands for contrast and saturation.

There is this link from Adobe that could help you get started:

https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/levels-adjustment.html

You might also be interested by the "curves" that act in a similar way than Levels do. If you know how to move your curves, you can get the same effect as playing with the saturation and contrasts quickly without "breaking" your colors, and for this, it's faster than using the Levels. There is a certain learning curve when using the curves but if you try it, you'll quickly understand how it works and how shaping your curves will change your colors.

Here is an intro link on the Curves:

https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/curves-adjustment.html

  • This is not helpful. – user2275971 Jun 19 '15 at 18:17
  • I'm talking about solid colors in graphic design, not photo editing. – user2275971 Jun 19 '15 at 18:17
  • Colors are part of the picture but as pixels and the levels work the same way on colors or images (group of pixels). Besides levels, hue, tints, shades and tones, I'm not sure how else could be used for this, sorry. As I explained, talking of brightness and saturation is like using a shortcut that implies a change on more than one level. I don't think I understood your question right if that's not helpful. Maybe you could post a screenshot example and others might join in! I guess what you need could be more related to "color harmony" & "theory" than the treatment of colors itself. – go-junta Jun 19 '15 at 18:34

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