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Color Grading

The effect descriptions on this page refer to the default effects found within the post-processing stack.

Color Grading is the process of altering or correcting the color and luminance of the final image. You can think of it like applying filters in software like Instagram.

The Color Grading tools included in the post-processing stack are fully real-time HDRhigh dymanic range
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tools and internal processing is done in the ACES color-spaces.

Scene with Color Grading.
Scene with Color Grading.
Scene without Color Grading.
Scene without Color Grading.

The Color Grading tools supplied in the post-processing stack come in five sections:

  • Tonemapping

  • Basic

  • Channel Mixer

  • Trackballs

  • Grading Curves

Requirements

  • RGBAHalf Texture Format

  • ShaderA small script that contains the mathematical calculations and algorithms for calculating the Color of each pixel rendered, based on the lighting input and the Material configuration. More info
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    model 3

See the Graphics Hardware Capabilities and Emulation page for further details and a list of compliant hardware.

Tonemapping

Tonemapping is the process of remapping HDR values of an image into a range suitable to be displayed on screen. Tonemapping should always be applied when using an HDR cameraA component which creates an image of a particular viewpoint in your scene. The output is either drawn to the screen or captured as a texture. More info
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, otherwise values color intensities above 1 will be clamped at 1, altering the scenesA Scene contains the environments and menus of your game. Think of each unique Scene file as a unique level. In each Scene, you place your environments, obstacles, and decorations, essentially designing and building your game in pieces. More info
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luminance balance.

The same scene with Neutral Tonemapper applied (notice how the sky is not blown out).
The same scene with Neutral Tonemapper applied (notice how the sky is not blown out).

There are three tonemapping modes supplied with the post-processing stack:

  • None (apply no tonemapping, select this when working in LDR)

  • Neutral

  • Filmic (ACES)

Neutral Tonemapper

The Neutral tonemapper only does range-remapping with minimal impact on color hue & saturation and is generally a great starting point for extensive color grading. Its operator is based on work by John Hable and Jim Hejl. It offers full parametric control over the tonemapping curve and is the recommended tonemapper to use in most cases.

UI for Tonemapping when Neutral tonemapper is selected
UI for Tonemapping when Neutral tonemapper is selected

Properties

Property: Function:
Black In Inner control point for the black point.
White In Inner control point for the white point.
Black Out Outer control point for the black point.
White Out Outer control point for the white point.
White Level Pre-curve white point adjustment.
White Clip Post-curve white point adjustment.

Filmic (ACES) Tonemapper

The Filmic (ACES) tonemapper uses a close approximation of the reference ACES tonemapper for a more filmic look. Because of that, it is more contrasted than Neutral and has an effect on actual color hue & saturation. This tonemapper is the simplest to use as it requires no user input to give a standard filmic look to your scene.

UI for Tonemapping when Filmic (ACES) tonemapper is selected
UI for Tonemapping when Filmic (ACES) tonemapper is selected

Basic

The basic section provides the simplest color grading tools such as Temperature and Contrast. This is the recommended starting point for color correction.

The same scene with only Basic Color Grading applied
The same scene with only Basic Color Grading applied
UI for Basic Color Grading
UI for Basic Color Grading

Properties

Property: Function:
Post Exposure Adjusts the overall exposure of the scene in EV units. This is applied after HDR effect and right before tonemapping so it won’t affect previous effects in the chain.
Temperature Sets the white balance to a custom color temperature.
Tint Sets the white balance to compensate for a green or magenta tint.
Hue Shift Shift the hue of all colors.
Saturation Pushes the intensity of all colors.
Contrast Expands or shrinks the overall range of tonal values.

Channel Mixer

The Channel Mixer is used to modify the influence of each input color channel on the overall mix of the output channel. For example, increasing the influence of the green channel on the overall mix of the red channel will adjust all areas of the image containing green (including neutral/monochrome) to become more reddish in hue.

The same scene with only Channel Mixer applied (increased blue influence on red).
The same scene with only Channel Mixer applied (increased blue influence on red).
UI for Channel Mixer
UI for Channel Mixer

Properties

Property: Function:
Channel Select the output channel to modify
Red Modify the influence of the red channel within the overall mix
Green Modify the influence of the green channel within the overall mix
Blue Modify the influence of the blue channel within the overall mix

Trackballs

The trackballs are used to perform three-way color grading in either Linear or Log space. When working in LDR it is recommended to use Linear trackballs for a better experience. When working in HDR it is recommended to use Log trackballs for greater control but linear trackballs can still be useful.

Adjusting the position of the point on the trackball will have the effect of shifting the hue of the image towards that color in the given tonal range. Different trackballs are used to affect different ranges within the image. Adjusting the slider under the trackball offsets the color lightness of that range

The same scene with only Log Trackballs applied.
The same scene with only Log Trackballs applied.

Log

Log-style grading compresses the distribution of color and and contrast image data to emulate the color-timing process that could be done by optical film printers. It is generally the preferred way to do film-like grading and is highly recommended when working with HDR values.

UI for Trackballs when Log is selected
UI for Trackballs when Log is selected

Properties

Property: Function:
Slope Gain function
Power Gamma function
Offset Shifts the entire signal

Linear

An alternative 3-way transformation to logarithmic controls optimized to work with linear-encoded data. Preferred when working in LDR.

UI for Trackballs when Linear is selected
UI for Trackballs when Linear is selected

Properties

Property: Function:
Lift Shifts the entire signal higher or lower. Has a more pronounced effect on shadows.
Gamma Power function that controls midrange tones.
Gain Increases the signal. Makes highlights brighter

Grading Curves

Grading Curves (also known as versus curves) are an advanced way to adjust specific ranges in hue, saturation or luminosity in your image. By adjusting the curves on the five graphs you can achieve the effects of specific hue replacement, desaturating certain luminosities and much more.

The same scene with only Hue vs Hue Grading Curve applied to achieve color replacement
The same scene with only Hue vs Hue Grading Curve applied to achieve color replacement

Five Grading Curve types are supplied in the post-processing stack:

  • YRGB

  • Hue vs Hue

  • Hue vs Sat

  • Sat vs Sat

  • Lum vs Sat

YRGB Curve

Affects the selected input channels intensity across the whole image. Input channel can be selected between Y, R, G and B where Y is a global intensity offset applied to all channels. The X axis of the graph represents input intensity and the Y axis represents output intensity. This can be used to further adjust the appearance of basic attributes such as contrast and brightness.

UI for Grading Curves when YRGB is selected
UI for Grading Curves when YRGB is selected

Hue vs Hue Curve

Used to shift hues within specific ranges. This curve shifts the input hue (X axis) according to the output hue (Y axis). This can be used to fine tune hues of specific ranges or perform color replacement.

UI for Grading Curves when Hue vs Hue is selected
UI for Grading Curves when Hue vs Hue is selected

Hue vs Sat Curve

Used to adjust saturation of hues within specific ranges. This curve adjusts saturation (Y axis) according to the input hue (X axis). This can be used to tone down particularly bright areas or create artistic effects such as monochromatic except a single dominant color.

UI for Grading Curves when Hue vs Sat is selected
UI for Grading Curves when Hue vs Sat is selected

Sat vs Sat Curve

Used to adjust saturation of areas of certain saturation. This curve adjusts saturation (Y axis) according to the input saturation (X axis). This can be used to fine tune saturation adjustments made with Basic Color Grading.

UI for Grading Curves when Sat vs Sat is selected
UI for Grading Curves when Sat vs Sat is selected

Lum vs Sat Curve

Used to adjust saturation of areas of certain luminance. This curve adjusts saturation (Y axis) according to the input luminance (X axis). This can be used to desaturate areas of darkness to provide an interesting visual contrast.

UI for Grading Curves when Lum vs Sat is selected
UI for Grading Curves when Lum vs Sat is selected

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