How to Colour Grade

How To Colour Grade

Unit 2 – Criteria: 1.1, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2 & 3.3 and Unit 4 – Criteria: 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 & 3.1

Firstly, what is colour grading? Colour grading and colour correction are often mistakenly identified as the same thing, however there are differences between the two. Colour correction is used for altering or enhancing an entire image or film, often to correct mistakes such as improper white balance, whereas colour grading is used for changing certain aspects of  a picture, usually for the purpose of creating an atmosphere or to make certain colours stand out.  In this instance and for this project we will be digitally modifying our video with Adobe Premiere Pro. We will be looking into colour grading, including when and how to colour grade. So, why do we colour grade? Colour in itself plays a huge role in film making and television,  it can evoke and portray emotion without any movement or dialogue, it is a underestimated means of creating the right mood. Serious television dramas for instance often have a dark and depressive feel to them, whereas sitcoms are bright and colourful to send out a happy and comical vibe. Colour grading can also help to remove unwanted aspects like under or overexposure. Colour grading is essential for creating a nice, detailed looking picture for any film, it can bring out hidden detail that is often lost by shooting on a DSLR and can give a realistic and deeper image quality. Colour grading can also be a useful tool for continuity purposes, if weather or lighting conditions differ from shot to shot then by colour grading we can keep the edit looking fluent and genuine.

Software Options:

There are a number of programmes that offer a decent colour grading package, for this project we are using Adobe Premiere Pro, which gives a good basic platform for colour grading, however for more complex and extensive colour grading there are programmes like After Effects and DaVinci Resolve which comes standard with the Black Magic Cinema Camera. DaVinci Resolve comes as standard with the Black Magic because the camera shoots flat, meaning that the video you receive from the camera will initially look very dull and washed out however after post production colour grading, the image quality is vibrant, detailed and very nice to look at, as demonstrated by the image below.

As I have very little prior knowledge on colour grading, I will be researching colour grading and learning how to colour grade on a basic level. The first place I want to look at is our tutor’s personal website as I know that this is a reliable source and any tutorials will contain software I am used to and familiar with. On this website,, I found a tutorial on primary colour grading which I followed to learn the basics of colour grading. After watching this tutorial, I watched a few others on YouTube but none were as useful or as easy to follow so I concentrated on Jon’s tutorial and followed it step by step and used it to colour grade a short clip of mine.

Arguably the easiest and most common form of colour grading can be done with something called a three way colour correcter. Three way colour correction is an essential tool for colour grading and is widely available on almost all image manipulation and editing software. Three way colour correction works by splitting the colour of an image into three categories, shadows (black), mid-tones and highlights (white) and by telling the software what you want to be absolute black and absolute white, the software will work out the colours in between and alter them accordingly. This tool is especially useful if the image from your camera is flat looking or if the white balance is slightly off. For our video, we will use this method to show how different our image can look with and without this colour grading.

Basics of Colour Grading:


Here is a quick tutorial on how to do a basic colour grade:


Overall I was pleased with my video, I went for a straight forward screen recording of a colour grade. I thought this would be the simplest method for people viewing the video as they would be able to follow the tutorial step by step. Feedback for my video has been mostly positive, with some useful comments. Jordan Schofield said it was ‘easy to follow and understand’ which I was pleased with, but also said I could have gone ‘a bit more in depth in areas’ which I fully agree with and with more time I would have liked to expand on a few points such as how other colour grading effects differ from the option I used.