As you may or may not recall, a while back I posted a tutorial taking a look at Pixel Targeting. At the end of that tutorial, I did promise that we would eventually look at a variety of Pixel Targeting applications. Well, we took a break to look at some other functions, but we’re back! Let us now explore!

As a quick reminder, Pixel Targeting allows you to target distinct tones, colors, and skin tones, and then select any number of Edit mode adjustments and apply them to those targeted colors, tones, or skin tone.

I find this picture pretty drab. It probably doesn’t help that I was there and my eyes told me it was pretty spectacular.


I would like to make the colors pop a bit, but I also want it to still look realistic, and not like a fantasy seascape. (Fantasy seascape has its place, but that’s just not what I’m into today.) So I open the image in Edit mode, and then enter Advanced Color. If I indiscriminately pump up the Saturation and Vibrance, it gets a bit much. It doesn’t look very realistic… It looks a bit insane. Look at those umbrellas! It’s like a carnival.


It’s true that you could just up the color value on the blues and greens by dragging your cursor up on the water and the trees, for example.


But then all of the greens and blues in the image are heightened, which leaves the rocks looking pretty green and the sky a bit nutty. Maybe you’re thinking I’m getting a bit picky. But what I’m thinking is: it’s Pixel Targeting Time. At the top of the panel on the left side, I press the Pixel Targeting button. Under Targeted Tones, I press Min. This deselects all tones. Then under Targeted Colors, I press Min. This deselects all colors. Now I can choose only the specific colors I want to target. In other words, I can choose to ignore the lightest or darkest version of a specific color, or any tone in between. Just stay with me, it’ll make sense.

Here we are with everything at neutral. Note that the Target Mask is black, which means that nothing is being targeted.


Say, for argument’s sake, I wanted to just target the blue of the sky, while ignoring the blue of the ocean and the accents on the boats and houses and such. In the Targeted Tones section, I turn the lightest value up to Max, and on the Targeted Colors section, I turn the blue value up to Max. You can see on the Target Mask that the sky is displayed in white. The white illustrates which part of the photo is being targeted. The sky is the lightest blue value in the photo, hence, it’s targeted.


Now if I expand the Targeted Tones to include more light values, you’ll notice that more areas are lit up in the Target Mask. That part of the water matches the criteria of being blue, (which we’ve targeted), and an almost mid-range lightness.


Now that we’ve acquainted ourselves with the concepts behind using Advanced Color with Pixel Targeting, let’s move on. My goal is to target just the ocean and the trees. But I want to leave the sky alone, as I’ve already discovered that nothing natural looking has come from me messing with it. So I experiment with targeting different tones until I find the one that displays the ocean in white in the Target Mask — directly in the middle. I now add green to the Targeted Colors to target the trees. Then I use the Saturation and Vibrance sliders to make the colors pop specifically in the targeted areas. I even drag my cursor up on the trees for more green. This didn’t affect the seaweed, as it would without Pixel Targeting, because the seaweed isn’t within the tonal ranges targeted. Et Voilà! Observe how the colors of the ocean and trees stand out, but the colors of the rocks are still natural. This, I feel, makes the difference between something vibrant, yet still realistic-looking, versus the circus-and-sequins catastrophe above, when I just indiscriminately raised the saturation and vibrance across the entire photo.


Let’s compare this with the original.


It’s subtle, but a definite improvement, I think.

Pixel Targeting can be used in a variety of ways—some very subtle, some much less subtle. Happy playing!

  1. Plinio Cesar Garcia says:

    ACDSEE se ha caracterizado en los ultimos años por traer caracteristicas faciles e interesantes al mundo del diseño grafico. Comenzo siendo solo un administrador de archivos graficos. Felicidades y Gracias. Ojalá, sigan creando herramientas que hagan del diseño grafico en computadoras una tarea cada día mucho más agradable.

  2. I look forward to having this tool available in the Develop Mode.

  3. Nicole Baker says:

    I’m so excited to begin using this feature! Wish I’d of read this tutorial long ago. It would have saved me so much frustration and disappointment… but I thought it was just too complicated to learn, lol. Now it seems like kid’s stuff! Perfect for this old gal, lol.

  4. Dave Kutchukian here, long time acdsee fan and software owner.

    Still having trouble with pixel targeting …its the connection between the mask and the editing brush or whatever else tool one may wish to use. Can I send you a jpg of an image I’m working with. Pixel targeting isn’t working for it bUT seems lIke it should.. It’s a double rainbow where the second is faded and I wish to make it more vibrant. Difficult to isolate and if I could, I have not discovered how to use the brush tool or other tool to accent the rainbow double.

    Dave Kutchukian

    • Hi Dave,
      I think I know how it could be done, but it’s hard to say for sure without seeing it. I need more information on why you’re trying to use Pixel Targeting on this. Are you trying to punch out just one color on the rainbow? From how you’ve described it, it sounds like you just want the faded rainbow to be more vibrant. Could you open the Advanced Color tool and use the brush tool on the second rainbow, then up the Vibrance and/or Saturation sliders?
      If that’s not solving it, send me your photo at along with more information about how you want it to look.

  5. Walt says:

    Interesting – but I have not had chance to prove anything.

  6. Barnabe says:

    l like this

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