Post tutorial RSS How to use Color Correction

Learn what color correction is and how to use it in your maps.

Posted by on - Intermediate Mapping/Technical

Q: What is color correction?

A: Color correction is the concept of altering the color balance of an image to achieve a desired effect. It is primarily used to set an emotional tone or convey important information. That means that you can change the colors of a level to create a better atmosphere or improve the visual effects.

Here are some examples:

The Half-Life 2 modification, Radiator uses a lot of color correction in order to create a dramatic scenery. Notice how it manages to give a warm feeling, which might suggest that the action takes place during summer/end of summer, while the sun is fading away.

Let's take one more example. Visage, another great Half-Life 2 modification, uses color correction to create a horrific atmosphere. By reducing the colors and giving it a blue/purple tone they manage to suggest a cold and eerie sensation.

Q: How do I use it?

A: First of all, we need to launch the game and create the desired effect while in the map. Most of the Source games support color correction, so don't worry about it.

NOTE* I will use Half-Life 2 Episode 2 .

After we start the map, bring up the console by taping "~" (if you don't have it enabled go to the Menu/Keyboard and click Advanced and tick "Enable developer console"). Write in the console "sv_cheats 1" and press enter. Then write "colorcorrectionui" and again, press enter. That should bring up a menu that looks like this:

You will notice the "New,Delete,Up,Down and Save" buttons at the bottom. At the top of the menu you will see the "Enable, Enable entities and the Blend scroll".

Q: What do those do?

A: New button - it creates a new filter, which can be the "curves tool,levels tool,selected HSV tool,Lookup Tool or the Color Balance tool". You can use as many filters as you want, as long as you get your desired effect.

Delete button - What could this complex button do? You'll have to find that out yourself.

Up and Down button - I don't know if you will ever use these buttons, but you mainly use them to move the list of filters up and down.

Save button - After you're done creating the desired effect, click that button and a window will appear asking you to name your ".raw" file and specify the pathfile.

Enable\Enable entities button - By ticking this option you will enable or disable the current effects (ex: the raw file or the light entities).

Blend scroll - This feature lets you decide how much will the color correction affect the original visuals of the map.

Now, after you've learned what the buttons do, it's time to experiment with the filters.

Click on new and select the "Curves tool". A new window will appear beside the "Color Correction Tools" menu. If you click on the line you will see that you can move it with the cursor. You can also cut it in several parts, which can be moved in any direction. This tool allows you to play with the contrasts.

Let's take a look at the "Color Balance tool". This filter lets you change the colors of the map. After you create it you will have three sub-categories, "Shadows, Midtones and Highlights". You can change the color of the shadows, lights and the overall color of the level.

NOTE* You have to toy a bit with the filters in order to get the desired effect.

After you're done messing around with the contrasts and colors save your ".raw" file. Click the "Save" button and save it to Steam\steamapps\"account_name"\ "the_source_game"\"the_source_game"\materials\correction and name it "my_first_color_correction". If that folder does not exist then you will have to create it manually.

NOTE* If you didn't understand where to save it, then let me give you an example. I want to use it in a EP2 map, so I will save it in Steam\steamapps\"my_account_name"\ Half-Life 2 Episode 2\ep2\materials\correction.

Now that you saved the ".raw" file, you can exit the game and launch Hammer.

Once in Hammer, click the "entity tool" and look for "color_correction".

Open it's properties and go to "Lookup Table Filename" and type in materials/correction/my_first_color_correction.raw to specify the filename path. If you want the effect to be seen in the entire map type in "Lookup Falloff End Distance" -1 .
Click "Apply" and close the properties menu.

Compile the map and enjoy the visuals!

You can download the vmf,bsp and raw files here

tymaxbeta - - 1,059 comments

Thats a pretty good tutorial, I'm not sure if it should rather go into the tutorials section, but it's nicely done...

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Awesome_ninja - - 809 comments

badass.... now I shall create epic GG CSS maps =)

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Curtainpole - - 88 comments

I already wrote a tutorial on colour correction: .But this is still a very good tutorial, Well done :)

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radutanasie Author
radutanasie - - 949 comments

Oh, awesome! I didn't know someone already did a tut about it.

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Jokerme - - 1,170 comments

A suggestion: Since in Ep2 color correction is broken (I'm not sure if they've fixed it yet), set your color_correction to start disabled and enable it with a logic_auto in game with a maximum weight of 0.4~0.6.

That will make it look right most of the time.

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