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Replace color in Photoshop – basics tutorial

A very popular feature of Photoshop is the ability to customize or even replace colors with just a few clicks. In many cases, however, a certain part of the image must first be made free-standing. In this tutorial, we’ll show you three methods on how to replace colors without having to make a part freestanding first.

Replace color in Photoshop – without making a freestanding first

As with many other features of Photoshop, colors can be replaced in many different ways. Without making a part freestanding first, however, it is advisable to first think about the method that is most suitable for the motif in question. To do this, view your image as a whole.

Is the contrast of the area you want to replace color very different from the background, or is the background color very similar to the new color you want to color the area with? In either case, Photoshop provides the right tools to replace certain colors without making the area detached first.

Example 1 – Change the color of the car

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Line art

In the first example, the color of the car must be replaced by another. The focus is mainly on the car, which clearly distinguishes itself in color from the autumnal background. These are perfect conditions to replace the color using a Hue or Saturation correction: To do this, go to your Correction tab and click on Hue/Saturation.

The car has a distinctive cyan color, so you can also select it as a changeable Color Channel. Then, when you move the Color slider, the color is replaced according to your setting. In this example, a subtle shade of red is chosen that matches the autumn mood of the image.

Despite the selected cyan color, not all colors may be replaced properly. To correct this, you can expand the color area to be colored using the lower Color slider in the Hue and Saturation correction.

To do this, hold the rounded grab point with the left mouse button clicked and move it slightly to the right to expand the coloring area.

However, be careful not to move the slider too far, otherwise, the color of the rest of the photo will also change from a certain point.

Example 2 – Color balloon with the color replace tool

Line art
Line art

In this example, one of the blue balloons should be a different color. Because the background of this photo is also blue and this color is also very similar to the color of the balloon, you will not achieve the desired effect with a hue and saturation correction. However, to change the color of the balloon, you can use the Color Replace tool. This can be found when you left-click and hold the Brush tool in the toolbar and then select the Color Replace Tool from the drop-down menu.

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Line art

Then define a new foreground color such as light green. In the options bar, you can then make various settings that determine how the Color Replace tool should deal with the original color. Because the contrast between background and balloon is relatively small, a tolerance of 20 percent is set here.

Line art
Line art

Now you can paint over the balloon as usual with the Brush tool and color it with the previously chosen shade. It is okay if you paint over the edge of the balloon. Photoshop recognizes the edge of the object and also only color this. Make sure that the small cross of the brush does not leave the area to be colored during painting. The color directly below this cross is used as a reference for coloring.

Tip: If you do end up out of bounds or overshoot, you have to undo the entire last step for a correction with the key combination Ctrl + Z . That is why it is best to release the left mouse button a few times and switch it on again.

Example 3 – Adjust eye color with just a few clicks

A very classic example of replacing color is changing the color of the eyes. To avoid having to separate beforehand, you can color in the relevant part directly with the help of the Brush tool. To do this, first, create a new layer in the Layers window and set the blending mode to “Color”.

Then select the Brush tool and set a low hardness. To save time, you can set both the brush thickness and hardness by holding down the Alt key and holding down the right mouse button. When you move the mouse up or down with the key and button pressed, the brush becomes harder or softer accordingly. When you move left or right, the brush thickness changes. When you find a setting you like, hover over the area to be colored.

Tip: Be careful not to move over the edge. In the unlikely event that this does happen, you can undo the last step with Ctrl+Z or simply erase the part that was accidentally colored after editing with the eraser.

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Line art

Wondering how to change the color of an object in Photoshop?

Whether it is to visualize an object in other colors to make tests, or because you did not have time to photograph all the variations of color of the same product, this manipulation has many uses.

Here are two easy methods to change the color of an object in Photoshop, one very simple and fast, the other longer but also more precise.

  1. The quick method
  2. The advanced method

1. The quick method Start by opening the photo of your choice in Photoshop.

  • Then click on Layer> New> Layer:
  • Choose the color you want to apply to the object in the color picker (foreground color):
  • You can select a color by guesswork using the color cube or copy and paste a hexadecimal code if you need a specific color.
  • Now select the Brush tool by clicking on the icon below or by pressing the B key:
  • Paint roughly over the object whose color you want to replace (still roughly following the outlines):
  • In the “Layers” tab (bottom right), open the drop-down menu and click on “Tint”:

The color of the object is then changed as if by magic.

However, this method does not achieve exactly the selected color – although it is very close to it.

So, if you need to change colors with a lot of precision, another technique is a little more advanced.

2. The advanced method

Open your image in Photoshop and click Image> Mode> Lab Colors:

Choose the color you want to apply to the product then create a new layer (Layer tab> New> Layer).

Now select the Brush tool (B key) and simply click to create a circle on the image (next to the object whose color you want to change):

Select the eyedropper tool (I key):

In the top toolbar, open the “Size” drop-down menu and choose “Average 11 x 11”:

With the Eyedropper tool, hold down the Shift key and click:

  • The first time on the colored circle drawn earlier;
  • A second time on the object whose tint you want to replace.

You will place two markers as shown below:

Now select the Quick Selection tool (W key):

Make sure to select the “Background” layer and drag the cursor over the object. The tool will automatically select its contours:

Click “Create Adjustment Layer” at the bottom right and select “Curves” from the drop-down menu. Be sure to put the adjustment layer on top of the others:

Select the curve adjustment layer and click on the “Targeted adjustment” icon (represented by a hand and two arrows):

Hold down the Shift and Ctrl (or Cmd on Mac) keys and click at the location of your marker # 2 (at the object whose color you want to change):

Open the “Information” panel and locate the information relating to sample 1 (which corresponds to the color you want to apply to the object):

In the Properties panel, modify the “Output” parameter based on the L value of sample 1 (in our example, 60):

In the drop-down menu, select “a” and repeat the operation (this time by copying the value of sample 1 into “Output”). Do the same with the value b.

The desired color is then applied to the object, but with some imperfections:

To remedy this, you have to go back to the “Properties” panel and play with the curve to modify the hue.

  • Select “Brightness” to vary the brightness of the object;
  • Select “a” to control green and magenta;
  • Select “b” to control blue and yellow.

In our example, we are going to play with the curve of “b” to modify the blue:

There you go, the object now has a brand new color.

Remember to change the image back to RGB before saving it (Image> Mode> RGB Colors, then click “Flatten” in the dialog box).

 

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