Question of the week: why do my Jpegs appear with different colours?

It’s quite common for photographers to use multiple image editing applications for different purposes, handing image data from one to the other to access different and unique editing features. In this case a problem arose when images were handed off from Lightroom to Photoshop before being saved as a Jpeg. The Photoshop generated Jpeg had distinctly different colour appearance than those of the same file exported directly from Lightroom and Photoshop Elements. This was quite an interesting issue to troubleshoot as it took a bit of detective work using some less well known Photoshop and Lightroom tools.

Image comparison
Compare the three sample Jpegs below. In the one generated by Photoshop, the blues of the sky, water and boat hull are different to that in the files created by Lightroom and Photoshop Elements.

'Exported' from Lightroom
Jpeg ‘Exported’ from Lightroom. Image courtesy of Tom Flint
'Save As' from Elements 11
Jpeg ‘Save As’ from Photoshop Elements. Image courtesy of Tom Flint
'Save As' from Photoshop CC
Jpeg ‘Save As’ from Photoshop CC. Image courtesy of Tom Flint

This is a colour settings issue and the 3 applications are each doing something slightly different with the colour data.


Each application has a predefined set of colour rules for creating and converting colours. Lightroom is  proprietary and cannot be user-adjusted, Photoshop and Photoshop Elements are configurable by the user. The rules are applied whenever you create a new colour, do a mode change, print a file or export to a different format. In each case, the applications are configured slightly differently so are producing slightly different results.

I made a colour sampler reference point on the boat hull of each of the images, the results are in the screenshots below:

Save as from PSE
Colour sampler from Photoshop Elements
Colour sampler from Lightroom
Saveas from PSCC
Colour sampler from Photoshop CC


The colour data (denoted by #1 in the screenshots) is quite different in the Photoshop CC version, which has higher red and green values but lower blue values.

I then checked the colour profile of each image (using the Photoshop Document Profile setting), Lightroom is sRGB, Photoshop Elements is Adobe RGB and Photoshop CC is ProPhoto.

Each of these has a distinctly different range of colour. You can choose the colour profile that is attached to a Jpeg either on export (with both versions of Photoshop) or under the Export panel settings in Lightroom.

Lightroom defaults to converting Jpegs to sRGB on export. sRGB is quite a small colour space and the RAW data of the original image will most likely be outside its range hence, Lightroom will perform a colour conversion on saving.

Screenshot of Export settings Adobe Lightroom
Export settings Adobe Lightroom

Photoshop Elements defaults to Adobe RGB which is a much bigger colour space. Note the values here are fairly close to the Lightroom output. Photoshop Elements either maintains the existing colour profile of the image or converts to either sRGB or Adobe RGB on export, see below. Photoshop Elements normally converts RAW images into Adobe RGB when converting from the Camera RAW processor. Adobe RGB will then be used by any subsequently generated Jpeg.

SCreenshot of Photoshop Elements 'save as' settings
Photoshop Elements ‘save as’ settings

The Photoshop Jpeg is saved as ProPhoto which is the default colour space used when Lightroom hands over the image to Photoshop. This colour space is vast and maintains (more or less) the colour data present in the Lightroom/RAW original. When you save this as a Jpeg, Photoshop keeps the profile unless you decide to change it.

SCreenshot of Photoshop CC 'save as' settings
Photoshop CC ‘save as’ settings

To change the colour profile in Photoshop you can select Edit>Convert to profile and choose the appropriate profile from the list as below:

Screenshot of Convert to Profile, Photoshop CC
Convert to Profile, Photoshop CC

This can now also be automated by using Photoshop CC’s new ‘Export As’ function which is useful for batch processing export of Jpeg and PNG files.

Screenshot of Photoshop 'Export As' function
Photoshop Export As function

By setting up each application to convert image data using the same colour profile, each application creates a Jpeg with the same colour appearance and values.

Colour management can be a tricky business and I often find that people find it confusing and technical. The inexplicable colour differences in the examples here illustrate what happens when colour management settings are not set up consistently.

If you have colour issues or would like to know more about colour management please contact us at

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Question of the week, Why is my InDesign text uneditable?

Time for a new feature at the creativeblog. Every week I’m asked dozens of questions about technical and creative issues. Starting today, I’ll document the most interesting one to create a kind of ongoing, expanded FAQ.

Why is my InDesign text uneditable?
I received this query from a client who was trying to resize and reflow a text frame in an InDesign alternate layout. Everything was fine in the standard layout but the frame had to be resized to fit a much smaller alternate layout.

InDesign text can be uneditable for various reasons. The first to check for are locked frames (check for padlock icon around frame edge) or locked layers (check for lock icon next to layer name in layers panel). Next check that the frame isn’t located on the master page (look for dashed edge on text frame) as master page items are not directly editable on document pages.

If these don’t provide the solution, the most likely cause is that the text has been outlined.

A normal, editable InDesign text frame looks like the illustration below. Note the variety of icons around the edges including Object Anchor, Edit Corners and In and Out ports on the left and right edges. As a normal text frame it should be possible to choose the Type tool, click in the text and start editing right away.

screenshot of InDesign standard text frame
InDesign standard text frame

Text that has been converted to outlines is not text any more, it is a set of vector shapes that looks like text characters. Text is outlined by selecting the text frame with the black arrow then choosing Type>Create outlines.

Screenshot of Creating outlines using the Type menu
Creating outlines using the Type menu
outlined text frame
Outlined text frame

The frame edges of an outlined frame are dashed and they do not display the Edit Corners nor In or Out Port icons.

Note that this function is not reversible unless you immediately perform an undo.

Screenshot of Outlined text close up
Outlined text close up

On closer viewing it is also clear that outlined text has a thin outline (colour will be dictated by the layer colour of the object). It is also impossible to select or edit outlined text using the Type tool.

Creating outlines is often done in order to preserve a particular type effect or to make sure that the text will not reflow or suffer a typeface substitution if opened on another computer. It is a feature of both InDesign and Illustrator. The net result is something that looks like text but that cannot be edited or reflowed (beyond basic scaling).

If you receive InDesign (or Illustrator) documents with outlined text, there’s little you can do. If you are creating outlined text be careful to retain an editable copy of the original text.

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Creating vector shapes with Illustrator Live Shapes

The November 2015 update to Illustrator brought with it some useful but very subtle new features that are easily missed.

As you draw shapes you may notice some extra icons and smart guide activity. These are a new feature called Live Shapes. Live Shapes allows you to draw and manipulate shapes more quickly, easily and accurately without the need to constantly change tools to do so.

SCreenshot of Illustrator polygon
Illustrator polygon

In this example we drew a polygon with the standard polygon tool. On completing the shape (and without deselecting the polygon tool) the enclosing frame is now peppered with icons, each of which can adjust the shape in a specific way.

Screenshot of Live Shapes Widgets
Live Shapes Widgets

Scaling and rotation are self explanatory however it is not necessary to select the selection tool before using these widgets.

SCreenshot of Edit Corner Radius
Edit Corner Radius

To change the angle of any corner, use the drag the corner radius widgets. A blue highlight will appear to indicate the current corner, this turns red when the maximum radius is reached.

Shape centres are easily identified with the Centre point widget and this can also be used to move the shape around-again without using the selection tool. Polygon shapes also have a Side widget which allows the number of sides to be dynamically edited by dragging.

Screenshot of Edit Sides Widget
Edit Sides Widget

The shape properties can also be adjusted in more detail using the Transform panel which now features a variety of new controls.

Elliptical shapes can be further adjusted by using the new Pie Widget which divides the ellipse into sections via a simple drag motion. This can also be inverted to create individual slices.

Screenshot of Pie Widgets
Pie Widgets
Pie reverse
Pie Reverse

In addition to these features you will also notice new Smart Guide hints which appear as magenta lines as you draw and adjust shapes. New hints include trajectory indicators, diagonal hints and hint crosshairs. The Smart Guides can be controlled by using the Smart Guide Preferences pane.

Screenshot of Smart Guide Preferences
Smart Guide Preferences

The Live Shapes features are at least partly designed for use on tablet devices, specifically Microsoft’s Surface, but they add some really intuitve and useful functionality for desktop users too.

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Customise Photoshop CC’s Toolbar

If you’ve ever felt the Photoshop toolbar was a bit overpopulated, a feature newly arrived in CC2015 can help you out.


Screenshot of Photoshop CC Toolbar

Near the bottom of the toolbar, you’ll notice a new, 3 dot icon. Click and hold on the dots to see a pop out menu then select the only option.

Photoshop CC Edit Tollbar option

The Customise Toolbar panel will open.

Screenshot of Photoshop CC customise toolbar panel

To simplify your toolbar, just drag the tools you don’t want to use from the left column to the right. The toolbar will adjust in real time as you do. You can also turn of the Hidden Shortcut icons with a check box. All this can be saved as custom presets so you can have as many different toolbars as you need

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