Home Grading Color Correction Handbook, 2nd Edition

Color Correction Handbook, 2nd Edition

by alexis
Color Correction Handbook Photo

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@hurkman) probably know that, among other things, I’ve been working on the second edition of my now three-year-old Color Correction Handbook, updating it to account for new developments in our industry, and expanding it to include topics that were not previously covered. What you didn’t know was that I added too much to be contained within a single volume. After a bit of reorganizing and even more writing, I’m proud to announce that Peachpit Press is now releasing TWO books, in both print and electronic form—

  • The now 672-page Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition continues to cover basic, intermediate, and advanced topics spanning the breadth of color correction technique, and adds about 200 pages of brand new content alongside many updates to existing topics; this includes a new chapter on grading workflow, a completely updated and expanded chapter on displays, calibration, and room setup, new sections on log-encoded grading, a new section examining the intersection of fine art portraiture and color grading, additional skin-grading techniques, and many, many new and updated techniques spread throughout nearly every chapter.
  • The former 69-page “Creative Techniques” chapter from the first edition has been split off from the handbook, and greatly expanded into its own self-contained 216-page Color Correction Look Book, focused entirely on creative grading techniques. Previously discussed techniques have been updated to cover the latest generation of software, and expanded to include even more creative options then before. Furthermore, entirely new techniques have been added including film stock emulations, flat looks, greenscreen grading for compositing, flaring, light leaks and color bleeds, vibrance and targeted saturation, monochrome looks, grain/noise and texture, and more.

Together, these two books provide over 800 pages of grading workflow, theory, technique, and application spanning the entire process of color correction for any program, and I’ve expanded the examples that are presented in DaVinci Resolve, Adobe SpeedGrade, FilmLight Baselight, Assimilate Scratch, Autodesk Smoke, and SGO Mistika.

Additionally, I was lucky enough to have two industry heavyweights review the contents; Charles Poynton, digital imaging authority and author of “Digital Video and HD: Algorithms and Interfaces” kept me honest by reviewing my more technically oriented chapters, while Dave Hussey, senior colorist at Company 3 and colorist of “Constantine,” “500 Days of Summer,” and music videos, television shows, and commercial spots too numerous to list reviewed both volumes, contributing some key insights and generously writing a new forward to the Handbook. To quote one of Dave’s closing paragraphs from the forward:

I’m a huge fan of Alexis’s book. This is a great tool for anyone who has ever wondered, “How did they get it to look like that?” Whether you’re an aspiring colorist or a seasoned pro, you’ll find it an amazing learning tool or a great book of reference. For the novice, it’s organized in a way to make even fairly advanced ideas easy to understand and to emulate. For an experienced professional like me, some of the techniques discussed here inspired me to try things in a different way than I might have. I can’t think of any major color correction issue that this book does not cover.

I’m incredibly proud of these books; they’re the best things I’ve written to date, and offer a definitive understanding of what it means to be a colorist for video and cinema. Whether you’re in film school exploring different disciplines in postproduction, already in postproduction and looking to add grading to your skill set, or you’re a producer or filmmaker who wants to understand the process of color grading in greater depth, the Color Correction Handbook and the Color Correction Look Book will expand your understanding of this highly interdisciplinary field, discussing how to analyze different images, how to methodically approach all manner of different situations, and showing you how to actually make each grade, with a heavy emphasis on the thought process that goes into each aspect of the work.

Additionally, each book is accompanied by an improved set of downloadable companion media, including many new clips, all in the ProRes 422 (HQ) format, so you can get better results as you use it to experiment with the techniques that are described.

It looks like the Handbook will be available late November/early December, and the Look Book will be available in late December (I just finished it). If you don’t yet own the color correction handbook, these two volumes are a huge step forward from the first edition, and should be worth the wait. If you’ve already read the previous edition, this update should provide enough new and updated material to make getting the new version worth your while. However, you also have the option to choose the book that has the most interesting new content for you.

For now, Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition and Color Correction Look Book are available for pre-order through Amazon, either in print or for Kindle. The Handbook is also available for pre-order through Barnes & Noble in print. I’m assuming both books will eventually be available through the Apple book store as was the previous edition. Finally, I also understand the Color Correction Handbook will be translated into both Chinese and Japanese at some point in the near future, I’m not sure of any other translations that are planned at this time.

Color Correction Handbook     Color Correction Look Book

Added December 3rd

I just received my author copies, and I wanted to add that the print quality of the 2nd Edition is simply phenomenal; it’s the best looking book I’ve ever had published. To my eye, all of the subtle examples I was worried about being clear enough look fantastic, and illustrate their points beautifully. Also, Suzann Beck’s artwork in chapter 8’s comparison of fine art portraiture and video looks particularly lovely. Kudos to the production department at Peachpit Press and to the printer for doing such a great job. Everyone who buys this in print should be thrilled.

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Tony November 13, 2013 - 2:25 pm


You are indeed the man to follow !!!

Between your Ripple training instructional videos, Resolve manual and now the forthcoming two books the world of color correction for all those involved will be a much better place.

I love the “snarky” comments you made in the Ripple training video. LOL it made my day and reminded me of the days back in the edit suite with a client breathing down my neck.

When will you be releasing the Resolve 10 Ripple training videos?

Keep up the great work.

Colorist Heaven has a special place reserved for you.



JAD November 14, 2013 - 7:03 pm

I was just looking for your book and found the new edition on Amazon, I was just wondering when would it be available, so thanks for the hint.

You mention different software above, do you happen to cover some Apple Color in your new book(s)? Is much of its content “agnostic” enough for someone who is still using that particular software?

Thanks again.

Alexis November 14, 2013 - 7:54 pm

Since Apple Color is a dead product, I removed all references in order to make way for other, more contemporary applications. However, everything that’s discussed in the new version applies equally to Color if that’s still what you’re using. Honestly, if I were you, I’d consider giving the free Resolve Lite a whirl over the now-aging Color. It imports XML from FCP 7 better then Color did, has many more tools, and occupies the same workflow space, assuming your machine is up to it.

JAD November 25, 2013 - 10:51 pm

Thank you.

I see the second edition of the Handbook is already available in Amazon (and it is on my wishlist as well). The Look Book, however, is not, but apparently it will be on December 27, if I understand Amazon correctly. Do you happen to know if that is the date it will come out, or is that for the publishers to decide yet?

I am very interested in Resolve, but my current computer does not support it. I do have access to computers with Resolve and I will give it a try soon, but meanwhile I was also trying to take advantage of the tool that I have at my fingertips now.

Thanks again and I wish you success with your two books.

Andreas Urra December 12, 2013 - 12:24 pm

Hi Alexis, thank you very much, this is great news. Having read the first edition I am looking forward to getting my hands on the second. For reason of carrying the book around I am tending towards the ebook version. Do you happen to know how well the illustrations carry over in the kindle/iBook version? Often, the resolution is a problem with electronic books.
Kind regars,

Alexis December 23, 2013 - 1:17 pm

The electronic illustrations are fine, however they’re never as high-res as I wish they were. I remain a fan of the print edition because I think the layout looks nicer in print, and the overall quality if this new book is fantastic. However, the electronic version on any reading device is certainly much, much lighter. In general, I’ve not heard complaints from the e-buying crowd, so I’m sure you’ll be quite happy.

Jae February 24, 2014 - 9:16 pm

Any reader of the book care to answer a question for me regarding page 229 color correcting cinema dng (log footage). Mr. Alexis suggested to add a lut to a node then add a new node before the lut node and adjust the contrast by lowering the offset and then using the contrast/pivot controls to push up the highlights. For some reason, I am not getting a very pleasant results by using only contrast and pivot. Do you all do all of your contrast adjustments before the lut or some after as well. Thank you in advance.

Alexis February 24, 2014 - 9:50 pm

I assume you’re referring to the screenshot at the bottom of page 233 in the print version of the handbook. The illustration shows four nodes leading up to a LUT for purposes of illustrating the workflow in a generic sense, but below I mention that if you’re using Resolve, all of the operations within that node happen prior to whatever LUT you apply within that same node. This is why using contrast and pivot within the same node as your LUT is giving you good results. If you were using another application, you might indeed have to apply the LUT in a later layer from your pre-LUT adjustments. However, it sounds like you’re on the right track.

Jae February 25, 2014 - 5:10 pm

Oh wow! Thank you for the reply. I am using resolve and am not having to add contrast via contrast/pivot because the lut I use gives me enough contrast. Do you suggest finishing any other contrast adjustment prior to the LUT or do some afterwards as well? It really does give you different results when adjusting before and after. Thank you again and can’t wait for more books/tutorials from you.

Alexis April 27, 2014 - 8:07 pm

My best response to your question is, “whatever works.” You’re right in that making adjustments before and after a LUT can have very different effects, but with this sort of thing there’s no right or wrong, only what gives you the best results for your particular project. If you keep an eye out for noise and/or clipping, so long as you’re not seeing unacceptable amounts of either, do what works best for you.


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