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3 Ways to Easily Change Colors in Photoshop

Monday, February 24th, 2014 by | Filed Under: Photo Editing
 
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Have you ever wanted to change a color in a photo and didn’t know how to do it? Maybe it was a personal photo and you wanted to change the color of your sweater, or maybe you were post-processing a product photo and a different color would have been a better fit. Photoshop is the perfect software to make this kind of change, easy and in just a few steps. Anyone can do it and there are a number of different tools which you can use. 

In this article, I will show you how to easily change colors in Photoshop, by using one of the 3 methods mentioned below. Each one of these methods includes just a few easy steps and none of them involve making a selection on the image. 

I’ll use a photo of a yellow leaf in grass, taken by myself a few months ago. Of course, you’re free to use any photo you like and change the colors as you please. The methods can be applied on any photo you have. 

_yellow-before photo editing

Tip: Duplicate layer before modifying colors. 

1. Selective Color

The Selective Color tool is one of my favorite tools, as it is very easy to use. This tool lets you adjust the colors in the image and modify them as you please. This tool will automatically select a specific color in the image, and by using the sliders, you can change it to any other color.

Select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color. A dialog box will appear. Select from the drop-down list, the color you want to change. In this case, I want to change the yellow color. 

Select the color you want to change, from the window in the right (it looks just like the one in the example below). In this case, I choose yellow. Now, drag the sliders to the right or left, and see the changes happen live. 

The color sliders are for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. To better recolor your photos, you must keep in mind the opposites of each color: Cyan is the opposite of Red, Yellow is the opposite of  Blue, Magenta is the opposite of Green.

I wanted to make the leaf bright orange, so I dragged to left the Cyan slider, decreased just a little the Yellow and added more Magenta and Black. 

3 Selective Color

_orange-after photo editing

2. Color Replacement Tool

Click on the Brush tool in the Photoshop toolbar. Right-Click and select Color Replacement Tool. Select the color you want to paint with and then click and paint over the image. In this case, I chose to make it pink.

Set the tolerance. If you recolor an area with a fairly solid color, it is best to use a low tolerance, in order to better isolate that color. In case you are recoloring an area with more colors, shadows and textures, select a higher tolerance. 

1 Color Replacement Tool

Click on the color you want to change, then start painting over it. 

This tool has some other useful options too. The Limits option will allow you to select from Contiguous, Discontiguous and Find Edges. The Contiguous option will recolor only areas of color contiguous to the ones under the the brush. The Discontiguous option will modify all matching areas under the brush, and the Find Edges option will maintain the edge details as you paint over. In this case, I used the discontiguous option as it is the best choice. 

_pink-after photo editing

3. Replace Color

This is another great tool for replacing colors. Select Image > Adjustments > Replace Color. 

Click on the area you want to modify. Keep the Shift key pressed in order to select the entire area you want to recolor. You can see the areas that aren’t selected yet in the black and white selection image. 

The Fuzziness slider lets you add more or less adjacent pixels into the selection. 

Drag the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders below and modify the color.

I made it blue. 

4 Replace Color

_blue-after photo editing

That’s it! Here are the before and after images. Use any one of these 3 methods and you can easily recolor your photos too! 

all photos

~ Ruxandra Micu 

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5 Responses to “3 Ways to Easily Change Colors in Photoshop”

  1. Mike Coloma says:

    Great tech tip Ruxandra!
    Is there a photo editing program out there that is comparable to Photoshop
    without spending the huge price tag?
    Thank you.

    • Helen says:

      Mike, you might want to try a free program called “Gimp”. It claims to be as good as Photoshop and to be very similar. I’ve used it, and it’s not bad, but seems a bit klutzy in comparison to PS. Photoshop also has an “Elements” program that gives you a good “Lite” version, for under $100.

    • Ruxandra Micu says:

      Thanks Mike! Gimp is a very nice free software and it’s similar to Photoshop. I haven’t used it myself, but I’ve heard it has some really nice features.

  2. ROY HOLLAND says:

    Thank You! Roxandra!
    I have been using Photoshop for many years! It is the finest! This is one tip that I haven’t tried. I surely will try it! I’m sure it works as I have done similar things in normal photos! I am still learning after all these years!
    Thanks again,
    Roy

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