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March 2008

Using Picture Style Editor

The Canon digital workflow is centred round the use of Picture Styles. To help to put you in control of your colour, Canon has developed Picture Style Editor, a software program for use by photographers who want to have the most creative control of the colours in their images.

It allows you to create your own personalised Picture Style files to achieve the look you want in your images. These Picture Styles can then be applied to your images in the RAW processing or loaded onto the camera and applied at the time of shooting.

The colour in an image is made up of three components - hue, saturation and luminosity. The hue is the colour - red, green, blue etc. The saturation is how vivid the colour is and the luminosity is the brightness of the colour.

The HSL colour space can be represented by a double cone showing the three axes of hue, saturation and luminosity.

Every colour within an image can be mapped somewhere on this double cone-shaped graph by a series of numerical values indicating its precise co-ordinates. Once you can pinpoint the co-ordinates of a pixel on this graph, you can easily adjust them to get exactly the colour you want to your precise adjustments.

The series of ‘how to’ videos you can easily access below will talk you through how to using Picture Style Editor. But before you begin, there is some housekeeping that you'll need to do on your computer to make sure that you’re seeing accurate colours.

Colour management has been covered on the CPN website here and here so it would be worth reading those articles too if you haven't done so already.

You need to start by calibrating your monitor. Without a calibrated monitor, any adjustments you make will be worthless and simply guesswork as you will not be seeing the true colours. Using something like a Gretag Macbeth EyeOne or ColorVision Spyder to calibrate your monitor is the first step. Although it is possible to carry out colour calibration using software only, this is not as accurate as a hardware based system and as a professional photographer, colour should be of paramount importance.

Below is a series of videos that guides you through using Picture Style Editor. In the first video, you’ll see how to set up the colour space in the preferences panel and make preliminary adjustments, and from there, you’re ready to start making colour adjustments.

Preliminary adjustments

Adjusting colours

Viewing changes

Saving a picture style file

Uploading file to camera

Know your limits

If you look at the red square in the bottom right corner of this image it highlights the before and after values of adjustments in Picture Style Editor. The colour co-ordinates you have selected to edit is shown in the box to the left, the colour co-ordinates after editing are shown on the right, in this case, the adjustment has made the Luminosity 50, which provides a greater range for saturation adjustment.

When you’re adjusting the Hue, Saturation and Luminosity sliders within Picture Style Editor, you may notice that there are certain limits beyond which you can’t adjust the saturation. This is because of the luminosity of the colour. The simple rule is that if you want to make colours more vivid, you need to adjust the luminosity so it is closer to 50 - as shown in the screen shot below.

If the colour co-ordinates of your selected colour have a luminosity value that's less than 50, then increasing the value towards 50 will make the colour more vivid. However, if the luminosity 'L' value is already greater than 50, then adjusting the slider to bring the value back closer to 50 will tone down the colour and make it darker.

The standard setup of Picture Style Editor will help you to control this. If you adjust the saturation such that you will pass the limit of what can be achieved with the current luminosity setting, the luminosity will be automatically changed. If you are certain that you don’t want the luminosity value to change, then hold down the shift key on your keyboard while adjusting the saturation slider and you will effectively lock the luminosity value in place.

Picture Style File

The picture style file you create in Picture Style Editor is only supported in Digital Photo Professional version 3.1 onwards, EOS Utility version 2.1 onwards and RAW Image Task version 2.7.

Where to get it

Picture Style Editor comes bundled on the CD with the EOS 40D and EOS-1Ds Mark III. If you have a previous EOS model, you can download the software from the Canon website here: Just select your camera, select the software option and find the Picture Style Editor software in the list.