Saturation vs. Vibrance: What’s the Difference? | Photoshop Tutorial

Are you a budding photographer or designer looking to enhance your images using Photoshop? If so, it’s crucial to understand the difference between saturation and vibrance. While both can be used to adjust the colors in your photos, they each have distinct characteristics that can significantly impact the final results. In this Photoshop tutorial, we will delve into the nuances of saturation and vibrance, explaining their definitions, uses, and key differences. Whether you want to create bold and vibrant images or subtly enhance the colors of your photographs, mastering these two adjustments will undoubtedly elevate your artistic endeavors to new heights.

Saturation vs. Vibrance: What’s the Difference? | Photoshop Tutorial

In this Photoshop tutorial, we will explore the differences between saturation and vibrance. Saturation tends to increase the intensity of all colors, while vibrance brings up colors while protecting the skin tones.

The Sample Image

For this demonstration, we will be using a sample image which can be downloaded for free on Simply follow the link provided below to access the image.

Vibrance Adjustment Layer

To showcase the difference between saturation and vibrance, we will be using the Vibrance adjustment layer in Photoshop. Within this adjustment layer, you will find controls for both vibrance and saturation.

Start by duplicating the Vibrance adjustment layer by right-clicking on the layer and selecting “Duplicate Layer.” Name the duplicated layer “Saturation.”

Increasing Vibrance

In the first layer with the vibrance adjustment, increase the vibrance slider all the way up. Take a step back and observe the overall effect of the increased vibrance. While it may enhance the other colors in the image, it may also be too intense for the subject’s skin.

Maximizing Saturation

Now, using the same Vibrance adjustment layer, increase the saturation slider all the way up. Notice the significant difference it makes to the subject’s skin tone. Comparing the vibrance and saturation effects, it becomes clear that when working with people, the vibrance adjustment is preferable to saturation.

Stacking Vibrance Layers

If you desire an even stronger effect, consider duplicating the vibrance layer. By doing so, you can further enhance the vibrance in your photo. Even with multiple vibrance layers, the result will still be more visually pleasing than simply cranking up the saturation, especially when it comes to skin tones.

Reducing Saturation on Skin Tones

If you find that the saturation is still too strong on the subject’s skin after increasing vibrance, here’s a useful trick to reduce the saturation specifically on the subject’s skin. Start by creating a new layer and going to “Select” and then “Color Range.”

Using the color range selection tool, select the subject’s skin. This selection can be refined by using the plus eyedropper or by adjusting the range settings.

Once the selection is made, the lighter areas will be selected while the darker areas will not. Now, you can make the vibrance adjustment invisible on the subject’s skin by painting black on the layer mask. This will effectively hide the vibrance adjustment in those areas.

Final Test

To test the final result, compare the original image with the stacked vibrance layers and the masked saturation layer. You can duplicate the layer mask from the vibrance layer and apply it to the saturation layer. By painting black on the layer mask of the saturation layer, you can ensure that it does not overly saturate the subject’s skin.

By following these techniques, you can achieve more natural and visually pleasing results when adjusting colors in Photoshop.

Thank you for reading this Photoshop tutorial on the difference between saturation and vibrance. If you want to see more tutorials and free videos, visit or subscribe to our channel for weekly updates. Happy editing!

Saturation vs. Vibrance: What’s the Difference? – FAQ

1. What is saturation in Photoshop?

Saturation in Photoshop refers to the intensity or purity of colors in an image. Increasing saturation makes the colors more vibrant and vivid, while decreasing it gives a faded or washed-out look.

2. What does vibrance mean in Photoshop?

Vibrance is another adjustment tool in Photoshop that selectively enhances the saturation of muted colors without affecting already vibrant ones. It is designed to create a more balanced and natural look by avoiding over-saturating skin tones or highly saturated areas.

3. How does saturation differ from vibrance?

The main difference lies in their selective nature: saturation affects all colors equally, while vibrance targets less saturated or muted colors. Vibrance avoids oversaturating already vibrant areas, making it a more subtle adjustment that preserves the overall color balance of the image.

4. When should I use saturation?

Saturation is best used when you want to globally enhance the intensity and vibrancy of all colors in your image. It can be a great tool for making colors pop or adding dramatic effects to your photos.

5. When should I use vibrance?

Vibrance is particularly useful when you want to enhance the saturation of less vibrant colors while avoiding oversaturation in highly saturated areas. It is often a preferred choice for portrait and landscape photography to maintain a natural and balanced look.

6. Can I use both saturation and vibrance together?

Absolutely! You can use both saturation and vibrance adjustments simultaneously to achieve the desired effect. However, it’s important to monitor your changes carefully to avoid pushing the colors too far or creating an artificial look.

7. Are there any other Photoshop tools related to color adjustment?

Yes, Photoshop offers various other tools such as hue, color balance, selective color, and curves adjustments that allow you to fine-tune the colors in your image according to your specific requirements and creative vision.

I hope you find useful my article Saturation vs. Vibrance: What’s the Difference? | Photoshop Tutorial, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

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