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How to Use the Primaries Color Wheels in DaVinci Resolve

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Learn to colour correct like a pro with our free course DaVinci Resolve Colour Grading for Beginners. You'll learn how to use each important tool in Resolve, including how to set up your project using scene cut detection, how to get clean skin tones with noise reduction and how to create cinematic looks.

In this lesson you’ll learn all about the Primaries Colour Wheels, an essential tool for grading in Resolve.

What do the Primaries Colour Wheels in Resolve do?

Primaries Colour WheelsPrimaries Colour WheelsPrimaries Colour Wheels
Primaries Colour Wheels

This is the Primaries Colour Wheels section. You’ve got Lift, Gamma, Gain and Offset. Lift is shadows, Gamma is mid-tones, Gain is highlights and Offset is the whole image.

Each one of these has a colour wheel, and if you select the dot in the middle and push it to one side, you’re pushing towards that particular colour and saturating in that direction.

Under each wheel is a jog wheel that you can pull to the left or right. To the left will bring down the luminance and to the right will increase it.

Above the wheels, you can see some tools for temperature, white balance correction with Temp and Tint, Contrast, Pivot and Mid/Detail.

At the bottom is Colour Boost, Shadows, Highlights, Saturation, Hue and Lum Mix. These are different tools to start bringing colour into your image.

Saturation

If you push the saturation all the way up you can see what happens to the scopes. The comparison above really highlights that there’s a lot of red in this footage, and that blues are more prevalent in the shadows: the apron has blue and white stripes. Then there’s a vibrant orange wall, as well as the oranges and reds in the skin tones, plus yellow and orange in the cheese. So what does this tell us?

Balancing The Colour

It probably tells us that the image could use some balancing out, so here it is with some corrections.

the image could use some balancing outthe image could use some balancing outthe image could use some balancing out
The image could use some balancing out

To correct this, the blue shadows were just eased a little, not too much because you would still want some blue in there and you don’t want to affect the skin tones too much.

The highlights had a little green added, the red pulled back and the blue was balanced. The mids were done by eye, looking at the skin tones to make sure they still looked right because everything else can be fixed later.

Finally the saturation was dropped a little bit, back to 85%.

Add Contrast

As mentioned a little earlier, you can make contrast adjustments with the jog wheels below the colour wheels, under Lift, Gamma and Gain.

Using Lift, Gamma and Gain to adjust contrastUsing Lift, Gamma and Gain to adjust contrastUsing Lift, Gamma and Gain to adjust contrast
Using Lift, Gamma and Gain to adjust contrast

Here, the blacks are pulled down in the shadows. For the highlights, you’re looking at the cheese highlights rather than the skin because the skin is a separate adjustment later. The mids have had a tiny nudge, again by eye.

If you click the circled icon you can see the changes so farIf you click the circled icon you can see the changes so farIf you click the circled icon you can see the changes so far
If you click the circled icon you can see the changes so far

If you click on this icon circled in the top right you can see the full grade and switch if off and on to see how it looked before.

Before and After

Before and afterBefore and afterBefore and after
Before and after

This is what’s been done so far and that’s just colour balance, rather than grading. It’s gone from a drab, almost green to something quite vibrant. It looks a little over the top but that’s going to get pulled back later. The important thing is that the skin tones are balanced. The colouring overall will get worked on some more in an upcoming tutorial.

More Resolve Articles

About the Authors

Tom Graham created the video course that includes this lesson. Marie Gardiner wrote the text version of this lesson, it was edited and published by Jackson Couse.

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