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The Difference Between Vibrance and Saturation

Are you ready to make a difference in the photos in your email campaigns? Learn how to use vibrance and saturation the right way.

Learning the difference between vibrance and saturation can help you edit images for your website or social media posts, making them sharper, colorful and more appealing to the prospective customer’s eye. Both color adjustments work together in affecting your photos and how they look but it’s important to know when to use one or both tools when using a photo editor.

Images that are oversaturated may look like something is wrong, so knowing when to decrease the intensity is key. While a lot of images may need some form of saturation, it’s recommended to use this feature lightly. Too much could distort the image and make it unsightly.

Using +5 increments is the best option to make sure you get it right. Images with bright colors may need saturation to make them pop more, but that’s about it. A landscape photographer often uses the saturation slider to enhance images of nature, but most designers use vibrance when people are in the image.

Editing images is nothing new. However, the goal is to make sure you know how to effectively manipulate those images and keep them looking as natural as possible. Using vibrance and saturation are two of the main ways you can accomplish this while keeping great imagery as a viable representation of your brand. These are two of the main elements in photo editing that are most used to enhance photos to relay messaging that connects with the audience.

A detailed explanation of vibrance and saturation is down below, along with how to edit images the right way to be consistent and cohesive within your brand.

What is saturation?

Saturation works to enhance the vibrancy of colors in a photograph or image. Pushing the slider to 100 in a saturation slider intensifies the greens, yellows, oranges, and red color in an image. Learning more about this on a Photoshop training channel can provide guidance on image recommendations and what would be the best options when manipulating a background image. Saturation enhances all the colors in an image.

What is vibrance?

Most people consider vibrance as the opposite because it selectively intensifies certain colors. The saturated colors that are more muted, like blues and greens, are more prominent in a saturated photo. A photo editor usually works to protect skin tones while still delivering a colorful image. Vibrance enhances the dull parts of an image.

When to use vibrance vs saturation?

Vibrance is primarily used when working with images that have people. Portrait editing usually requires vibrance. While vibrance is used with certain nature images like flowers or landscapes, it’s just to add a subtle brightness without a lot of intensity. Again, using the +5 method can help in determining the best image.

Although both vibrance and saturation are used for different things, it’s hard to determine what to use until when the editing starts. Many designers and photographers change the vibrance and saturation as they move along, or they use them both to achieve the desired look and feel of the image. It’s not unheard of for a photographer to use a negative saturation or vibrance to capture exactly what they were going for when taking the image. Here are a few things to remember when using both tools:

  • If the image is very colorful but only needs small enhancements, the vibrance tool should be used.
  • If the colors in the image are muted, the saturation tool should help bring them to life.
  • Always compare the before and after when using vibrance and saturation. It’s easy to dramatically change an image and you don’t know what the original looked like. The goal is to have an image that doesn’t look like it was manipulated.
  • Don’t overuse the saturation tool because it creates images that don’t look normal.

The goal is to have images that have a great balance of color. The differences in both may seem small, but they each have distinctive functions that make them useful.

9 things to remember when editing

Photo editing is to bring out the best in an image and capture the style of the photographer. While there are many photo editing programs on the market, it’s best to know what to remember when editing, rather than focusing on one program and how to use it. To edit an image the right way, you must have technical and artistic skills to bring those images to life.

Be subtle when manipulating images

Your goal is to create imagery that looks natural and unforced. Using too much of the vibrance and saturation tools can completely destroy the aesthetic of the image.

Use the auto button

When getting started, use the auto button first. Editing programs have an auto button to immediately fix the first imperfections of the image. It’s always best to see what happens to the image after the auto button is used before beginning customizations. This cleans up small problems in the image without touching saturation or vibrance.

Check the light and dark portions of the image

Look at the image in monochrome. This is a good way to see what stands out and what doesn’t. This also points out sections that may already be too bright, or there are spots of darkness that shouldn’t be there. This helps establish what needs to be brightened and what can stay the same.

Study the colors

Knowing the real color of certain elements in the image can help in keeping the consistency and integrity of the image.

Crop and clean your images

Straighten images and crop before getting started on the rest of the image to improve the little details and reposition if you must. Doing a spot clean of the image to heal spots and other blurred areas can help in creating a beautiful image.

Adjust the white balance

You want to make sure the color levels are right in an image. Checking the white balance and adjusting it to reflect what you need to reflect the lighting conditions you want highlighted in the image.

Adjust exposure and contrast

When you’re looking at the light and dark portions of the image, you can change the exposure to make the image as light or as dark as you need it to be. Contrast will change the image from dark to light. When the contrast is low, you’ll see flat images. As the contrast is heightened, the image becomes clearer.

Adjust the saturation and vibrancy

After the white balance, your colors can be intensified as much as you need to create the setting you want and need. Bright colors provide more dramatic looks in images.

Consider sharpness

Depending on the image and level of detail you need; you may want to adjust the sharpness which is designed to provide more clarity in certain objects.

How to add images to your email campaigns

When adding images to email campaigns, you want to make sure you have used all the suggestions for editing and manipulating images so they will be at their best. It is very easy to upload, add, and edit images while in an email to add customization to the overall content and marketing campaign. Depending on the images being used, there may be certain image requirements based on the design, template, or layout you choose. The image requirements should be consulted to ensure you have what you need.

Email marketing is a great way to stay connected to your audience and engage them. It’s no secret people may get tired of getting emails, but when you have engaging photos, it captures their attention. To get the most engagement from your audience in your email marketing campaigns, you should consider using stock images. This comes in handy when you need professional photos and don’t have the time or resources to make it happen. Using stock photos is a good solution but they should be royalty-free and follow copyright rules.

You should have a brand guideline in place that highlights the type of imagery used for your brand and stick to it. Don’t just use any type of imagery. Your images should be crisp, clear, and convey the messaging of your brand without saying a word. Your goal should be to find unique photos that aren’t generic and can be edited to fit your brand.

As you select the photos for your email marketing campaigns, make sure you’re using real people. There’s just something unattractive about using clip art. Real people help build stronger connections and relatability among your audience. This will help viewers want to read the content attached to those images. While the idea would be to get authentic photos of people, stock photos have great pictures of real people that can be edited to represent your brand and its colors.

When putting images in your emails, make sure you’re using the right image size. You don’t want to make it difficult for your audience to open your emails so knowing the format and size of the images that will create a cohesive look and feel is key. Photos in emails should be less than 200 pixels and no wider than 600 pixels for the best effects. Before sending the email make sure you test it to see how it loads and if you need to make changes.

The right image format is also key. Many people choose to use PNG formats for everything but they are much larger than JPEG images. The only thing about JPEG images is that they are low quality, but they give you fast loading. PNG should be used when you have photos that also include text. When you have vibrant photos and logos, you want to go for the PNG version of that file for the most impact. If you choose to use a GIF, test and check to see if it works. GIFs are small and load very quickly.

Also consider your alt text in the image. Alt text helps people identify what the image is supposed to be if they can’t see it. Leaving it off isn’t a very good look for your brand, and it’s ADA compliant for the visually impaired. You’ll have all sorts of people engaging with your emails so you want to make sure everyone can engage and connect with what you have to say. Although this is an extra step when putting your images together in your email campaigns, it will be worth the time and effort.

When using images in your email, make sure they are relevant. Good, bold images should be your first choice, but even a bold photo doesn’t mean anything if it’s not supporting what you have to say or your content. All your images should make sense in a cohesive, consistent way. While you may push the envelope, make sure you push it in the right way with relevancy so your audience will understand and form deeper connections with you.

Images in your email can be very powerful when used the right way. Improving the design of your email can create synergy and engagement that converts over and over. The best thing to remember is when you’re choosing these images how to edit them the right way. Use vibrance and saturation only when needed and make sure your images aren’t distorted. You want them to look natural, even if you have to edit them to fit the image and messaging of your brand.

These tips and guidance on editing photos and how to use them to enhance your email marketing should help you engage and connect with your audience on a deeper level. It’s always important to consider the images you use for your brand, whether they are being used on a website, in email marketing, or at any other touchpoint of your brand. Images help capture your messaging and keep your brand top-of-mind, which is where you want to be.

Try the Mailchimp photo editing tool alongside professional photo editing software to see the capabilities you have at your fingertips. Using email marketing to solidify your brand and get information to your audience is still the best way to make sure your audience knows who you are and trusts what you have to deliver.

Are you ready to make a difference in the photos you present to your audience in your email marketing campaigns? Use vibrance and saturation sparingly while choosing the best effects that will have the most impact on every image you choose. Little details like changing the color of earrings or a bracelet, or maybe an item people are holding with your brand colors can make a huge difference in the presentation of your brand and imagery. Images and colors create lasting connections that will last beyond emails and continue on, making your readers want more.

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