It still boggles my mind that Adobe hasn't added color wheels to Photoshop in 2019. It's a tool loved by colorists and video editors, yet photographers are forced to rely solely on curves and sliders instead. Fortunately, the guys at Retouching Toolkit fixed Photoshop once again.
Let me start by explaining what the color wheels are for those of you who don't know, and why they are so great to use. It's an easy tool to apprehend even for people with limited color theory knowledge because it's very visual. Move the cursor towards the hue and saturation of your choice, and then adjust lightness, all the while looking at the result. Typically, video editing apps rely on three different color wheels for independent adjustments between shadows, midtones, and highlights. Some software solutions also come with a master color wheel which adjusts the overall color cast of the image. It's the case in Capture One, for example.
In Photoshop, similar results can be achieved using the curves or the color balance tool. However, they are not as user-friendly. Beginners are often scared by the curves, and advanced users tend to lose time when making fine adjustments by going back and forth from one channel to another. Curves do offer the advantage to be more precise by giving the chance to work on more points of the image than three luma ranges.
The best of both worlds would be to have a curve managed by a color wheel. Well, that's precisely what the Retouching Toolkit team did with the Color Wheels addon. They created an extension with color wheels to adjust curves layers! So if you are a beginner, it means that you don't need to worry about tweaking curves anymore. You can simply rely on the color wheel panel to do the daunting work for you and focus on the result. The Retouching Toolkit Color Wheels addon let you manage the color and luminosity of the shadows, midtones, and highlights independently and quickly. Because the Color Wheels addon makes a color correction and color grading so easy doesn't mean it's limited to less advanced users. It brings efficiency to anyone's workflow while simplifying it and retaining all the precision offered by curves. Unlike other color wheels tools on the market, this addon can load numerous points from a custom curve so you can work on more than three luminosity ranges. Each position is then displayed as a different color wheel.
Because the color wheels are applied as a curve adjustment layer in Photoshop, this means you can also tweak the blending mode and opacity. However, Conny Wallstrom, the mind behind this fantastic Photoshop extension, pushed things even further by offering the possibility of adjusting the strength of the curves instead of just the opacity.
Another great feature to be noted is that the wheels can be displayed in three different sizes. This way they can fit your Photoshop workspace even when retouching on a small monitor or adding more custom points. Furthermore, the wheels can be shown in both RGB and RYB.
The Color Wheels Addon for the Retouching Toolkit is available now for $59 and requires the Retouching Toolkit 3. The latter currently sells for $129, but is also available in bundles with different addons. For example, the $199 package includes the Color Wheels addon and the future Color Mapping Addon. For more information about the Retouching Toolkit, be sure to read my previous review or visit the official website.