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How to Change the Color in complex objects in Photoshop without selections

How to instantly and easily change the color of something in a photo using Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial, Colin Smith shows you how to quickly change color of anything in photo using Photoshop. You can instantly change colors on very complex shapes without any selections using this neat trick. I suggest watching the video first and then using this written text as a reference to come back to, so you don’t have to take notes.

How to change the color of anything in Photoshop without selections

Let’s start with this design I made for the cover of Photoshop User Magazine.

I shot the original photo in my studio with model Llana Barron and used my Ibanez Jem guitar. The rest of it was a little 3D and compositing in Photoshop.  made this for a tutorial that I did in the magazine. If I have enough people ask, maybe I’ll redo the tutorial here. Anyway.. on with the color change tut.

change color in photoshop

Step 1. Isolate the area

We are going to change the color of the skirt and text, so using the rectangular marquee tool, make a selection across the bottom part of the image. No point in changing the top and adding unnecessary work.

Selection in Photoshop CC

Step 2.

In the layer’s panel, choose the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer

Adjustment layer in Photoshop

Step 3.

If we change the hue, the color will change in the entire image. We only want to change the skirt right now and make it blue.

As you can see, it would take a while to cut it out, but we don’t need to. Choose the picker tool (The little finger with the arrows) Selective color tool in Photoshop

Hue Saturation

Step 4.

To choose the color, click on the purple of the skirt. Now move the hue slider and notice that only the purple changes. Neat huh?

Tip: Hold Down Ctrl/Cmd and drag on the color and you can change it on screen.

Changing specific color in Photoshop

For some of you, this is all you need, see ya!. j/k, stick around, it gets better.

Step 5.

If we want to change more than one color, we don’t have to redo anything. With Hue/Satch still open, choose the finger again and this time click on the orange of the text. (Could you imagine trying to select that AND the reflections too? Let’s make it blue. Drag all the way to the Right on Hue. Notice its all weird? This is because Photoshop didn’t select all the orange. This is the 2nd thing for you to learn here, how to refine the color selection.

Change orange to green

Step 6.

At the bottom of Hue/Saturation os a color scale with color stops on it. This is the selected color range. We need to increase this range to cover a larger range of oranges.

fine tune the colors

Move the sliders; both the triangles and the inner sliders and you will see a perfect selection and a nice blue now displaying.

Sweet! But her hands look like they have blue rubber gloves on. This takes us to the 3rd thing, how to fix over-selections.

now photoshop has changed it to blue

Step 7.

It’s actually really easy. Every adjustment layer has a built-in mask. As you can see on the mask, the top is black and the bottom is white. Where the mask is black, it hides that current layer, where its white, it shows it. All we need to do is add black to the areas we don’t want changed.

Make sure the layer mask is selected by clicking on it.

work on Photoshop layer mask

Step 8

Choose the brush tool (B key)

Select black as the foreground color.

Paint over the areas you want to protect and you will see the original colors come back. If you go over the lines, paint with white, to bring back the adjusted color.

masking the color

Step 9

Just for fun, I painted the mask over the fish to bring back their original color. I have nothing against blue fish, but orange goldfish look better I think.

final change of color of photo in photoshop

And there you have it. Nice and simple, but a huge time-saver.

I really hope you enjoyed this week’s tutorial here at PhotoshopCAFE.



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26 responses to “How to Change the Color in complex objects in Photoshop without selections”

  1. I play the rhythm guitar with a local jam group and am learning how to play the recorder with a little local ensemble group. Been a member of your Cafe since the beginning and always learn something new! Keep up the good work!

  2. Hey Colin, I have played drums for over 53 years. I really enjoy your tutorials very much. Every time I watch one, I learn something. Thanks for passing on your knowledge about Photoshop.

  3. Thanks for sharing this tutorial, Colin. You do a great job at taking the mystery out of Photoshop. I have owned and played guitars since I was about 9.

  4. I tried to play the ukulele but I damaged the nerves in the end of my forefinger on my left hand by pressing too hard on the strings on the fret. End of stringed instrument playing. So now I am learning to play the lowly recorder.

    Great lesson about changing colour of objects. I have struggled with this in the past, as per you changing the yellow to blue. Now I know what to do, so thank you. Keep up the good work.

  5. This is something I need to do on a regular basis. Thanks for the easy tips! I play the saxophone.

  6. I wish I could play piano but all I play is my iPod. Love music, love your tutorials. You make the difficult seem so easy.

  7. Kudos to you, Colin!!!! Another fun and easy doing tutorial. I don’t play any instrument but love music and have created 3 albums with rhythms from all over the world. I would love to hear some flamenco guitar from you at the end of your tutorial. It would be fun. WHAT DO YOU THINK GUYS?!?!?!?

  8. This is a great color changing tip, thank you! I’ve tried the guitar and piano but stopped taking lessons.

  9. Started with trumpet at age 10, then added organ and piano in middle school and guitars (acoustic, electric, bass and dobro) in college. Picked up harmonica, recorder and drums along the way.

  10. The tip that you can change two colors at once was definitely new to me. I have played the piano, but don’t have one currently and miss it when I need an emotional release.

  11. I had saved this tutorial for a later date. Just today I tried to change a color on my portretphoto on FB to match with the backgroundphoto. Then I decided to see your tutorial. That made it a lot easier to match the color of my vest to match perfectly.

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