Tip #101: What’s the Difference Between Color Grading and Color Correction?

… for Visual Effects

Tip #101: What’s the Difference Between Color Grading and Color Correction?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Both involve color, but in different ways.

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The short answer is that color correction fixes problems, while color grading gives images a “look.”

Typical color correction involves:

  • Removing color casts
  • Setting proper highlight and shadow levels
  • Controlling any excessive highlights (speculars)

For example, the top image was color corrected to boost highlights and increase saturation.

Color grading, on the other hand, takes what we have done in color correction and tweaks the color and grayscale levels to match the story. For example:

  • Boosting saturation for a romantic comedy
  • Decreasing saturation for dystopian scifi
  • Removing color for a film noir

And so on.

Generally, you fix problems first, then create looks second.

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2 replies
  1. Kate Hansen
    Kate Hansen says:

    I loved how you mentioned that you can boost saturation with color grading. My sister was telling me a couple of weeks ago about how she and her friends are planning on making a short film together and she wanted to know more tips about color grading because she plans on finding software to use for it. I’ll make sure to pass this information along to her once she finds a color grading software to use.

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Keep in mind that Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere and Apple Final Cut Pro X all have color grading tools – and excellent ones! – built in.



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