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6 ways to change Colors in Photoshop. Photoshop color replacement tutorial.


How to replace colors in a Photo in Photoshop

This Photoshop Color Replacement tutorial, shows how to change the colors in a photo, or parts of a photo. It’s really easy to change colors and the big heros are Hue/Saturation and color blend mode. This tutorials shows how to replace individual colors as well as how to get nice looking color looks on your images. Check out the video for step by step details and then see the written steps for reference.

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1. Partial Color Change in Photoshop

This technique will change the color, but we will blend the color change gradually.

Start with a photo (This is from Adobe Stock, like all the images in this tutorial).

Step 1.

Choose the Quick Selection tool

Make a selection around the more solid background.
Press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+I to inverse the selection, so just the dress is now selected. Don’t worry about the person we aren’t changing that part of the photo.

change color in photoshop

Step 2.

Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to copy selection to a new layer.

Inverse the selection

Step 3. Changing the color

Press Cmd/Ctrl+U for hue saturation.
Move the hue slider to change the color, until you get a color you like.

change color with hue saturation

Step 4. Blending the color

Add a new layer mask in the layers panel. (Click the add layer mask button to the right of fx)

Step5.

Choose the gradient tool

Make sure it’s set to foreground to background, and linear. Normal mode and 100%opacity.

choose gradient options

Step 6.

With the mask selected, drag the gradient horizontally through the image and you will se a nice seamless blend (this is demonstrated in the video if this is difficult to grasp).

I like how the blue and red become purple where they are blending.

changing color with gradient mask

2. Changing background color in Photoshop

Often we want to change a background color and some people waste lots of time, trying to make unnecessary selections (I used todo this a long time ago).

back ground image in Photoshop

Step 1.

Make a hue/Saturation Adjustment layer

Use Hue Saturation

Step 2.

Open the properties panel and click the finger under preset.

Click on the yellow color. You will see in the gradient, that some sliders have appeared around the yellow tones, we have isolated yellow.
(Or just choose yellows from the drop down, but not quite as accurate)

Targeting colors in Hue Saturation in Photoshop

Step 3

Move the hue slider and notice that only the yellows are changing.

Change the background color in Photoshop

Make it any color you want. That’s clutch, right? No selections needed.

Change the background color in Photoshop

3. Changing the color of an object in a photo in Photoshop (changing clothing color)

How often do we need to change the color of clothing? Its a cinch with this method.

starting image red coat

Step 1.

Make a hue saturation Adjustment layer.

Click the finger and click on the red coat to sample the color.

Spoiler alert: this is just like the previous technique, but shows you how to tighten up the color and fix areas that are changed that we don’t want to change.

Hue Saturation in Photoshop target color

Step 2.

Move the hue slider to make the coat a different color, in this case we are changing red to a nice hot pink/magenta.

Notice that their hair and skin also changed color, we don’t want that.

change color in photoshop

Step 3 refining the color selection

Move the sliders in the gradient to refine the color selection. Some things like her lips and reflections on their faces can’t be fixed in this step, but it definitely looks a lot better.

Refining color selection

Step 4.

The Hue/Saturation has a layer mask that we will use.

Choose a brush and set the foreground color swatch to black.

Choose brush and layer mask

With the mask selected, paint out any of the areas that you want to restore to their original colors.

masking the colors

4. Painting in a new color in Photoshop (recolor a car)

Sometimes, you just want to paint in the colors by hand. You can use this tutorial to paint in the colors freehand, or use selections to assist you.

Step 1.

Im going to select the color of the car’s paint to make it easier.

Choose Select > Color range

With the eyedropper, click on the main color.

Use the eyedropper+ to add to the color selection (How to use Color Range)

Refine the selection with the fuzziness slider.

use color range to select a color

Click ok to see the marching ants selection. We need to clean up a little bit.

selecting a car in Photoshop

Step 2.

Press Q for Quick mask. You will see a red overlay, indicating the selected areas.

checking the mask

Step 3.

Paint with white to add to the selection, or black to subtract from the selection.

quick mask in photoshop

Step 4.

Create a new layer and change it to color blend mode (click where it says “normal” and choose color)

make a new photoshop layer

Step 5.

With the selection active, choose a paint brush.

Click on the foreground color swatch to choose color.

Start painting and notice that the tones don’t change, just the color. Yay color blend mode.

painting in a new color

Keep going until you have painted the color.

The nice thing about using Color Range is that the reflections were also selected and so it looks more realistic in the chrome when we change the color of them too.

painting a new colour in Photoshop

Step 6

You can also choose Hue/Saturation and change the hue of the new painted payer at any time, to instantly dial in different colors.

Change the color in a photo in a single slider

Ok, that’s how change the physical colors on the photos. Let’s loos at some color effects.

5. Adding color overlays and color grading in Photoshop

 

Step 1.

Open the Gradients panel (Photoshop 2020 + only)

gradient panel

Drag a gradient onto the image.

add a gradient to a document in photoshop

Change to Color blend mode in the Layers Panel and change the opacity to suit.

blending gradient into a photo in photoshop

A lower opacity gives a more realistic result.

color grading in photoshop

Step 2. Gradient Maps

Let’s look at gradient maps, this gives a different result.

Choose A Gradient Map adjustment layer

using a gradient map in photoshop

Choose the same gradient as before

The left of the gradient (orange) is the shadows and right (Highlights) is red.

gradient map

Change to color blend mode.

blending gradient map

Click on reverse, so that orange does into highlights and red into shadows, looks much better already. You always want the lighter colors in the highlights.

Inverting gradient map in PS

Lower the opacity and see how nice that looks.

blending color gradient map in photoshop

For extra punch, you can always combine the gradient map with the gradient overlay, don’t forget to tweak the opacity on both adjustment layers though.

Final colour grade

6. scaling gradients for a color overlay effect in photoshop

Here is a variation of the gradient overlay. In this case, we use a gradient overlay adjustment layer instead of a straight gradient layer.

The advantage is being able to easy scale the layer and change its angle. Also try dragging on the gradient in the image while the Gradient Fill box is open. Pretty neat huh? {You can see this in action in the video.)

Different color overlay effect in photoshop

Thanks for checking this out. I hope you learned some new things about working with color. If you did, subscribe and tell you friends about PhotoshopCAFE! Spread the word 😉

Colin

I enjoy making these for you. As time permits, I’ll keep making one each week. Drop a comment and let me know what you would love to learn in photoshop. Also don’t forget to check out my premium tutorials, it’s what supports this website and enables me to do what I do,

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7 responses to “6 ways to change Colors in Photoshop. Photoshop color replacement tutorial.”

  1. Hi Colin, first of all a huge thank you for the practical lessons about PS and the handy summary at the bottom of the images. I am not that young anymore and speak another language and this makes it possible to enjoy every explanation. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy and fruitful New Year.
    Thanks again, also for the musical interlude.
    You are a great man!
    Ps. I am a member of one of the best photo clubs in Flanders Belgium.

  2. Hi Colin,
    I really appreciate that you give written versions of your tutorials. I find I learn better by reading than by watching. Perhaps it’s a generational thing.
    Warm wishes to you and yours for a merry Christmas and a joyful and fulfilling New Year.
    P.S. My website is currently under”renovation” but there may be some material there!
    Angela

  3. Colin, I’ve been trying to find a dress similar to the one in the color changing tutorial. The model is wearing a red backless ballroom type dress. Is there any way to locate the photographer and or model to determine where I could get a similar dress? Thank you in advance for any help you could provide.

    • The image is on Adobe stock and should be easy to find, (copy it and upload to the finder and Adobe Stock will match it, I included that on a Adobe Stock tutorial I did a while back) there will be a Photographer credit there.

  4. Hello Colin,
    Thanks for this complete guide =) as usual, we don’t really need to look somewhere else.
    I wish you a Happy New Year as well.
    I wanted to know if you got my emails? I’ve had the chance to be introduced by Jesùs from PTC.

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