Have you ever wanted to use Photoshop to change the original color of an object to a new color? Or just tweak the hue a bit of a specific color range to make the image a bit more interesting and balanced.
In this article, we cover the best ways to change color in Photoshop of any object or your entire image. I will give you an example of when to use the tools in your photo.
1. How to Change Colors Using the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer
Step 1: Select and create a layer mask of the object you want to change the color for
If you don’t want to change all of the same colors in the image, you first need to create a selection and then apply a layer mask to the HSL layer, which you will create just below
You can use the Object Selection tool or the Quick Selection tool for this. However, you can use any selection tool to first select the object if you want to limit the color replacement to a specific area.
With the selection active, you can go to the next step.
Step 2: Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer
Create a new hue/saturation adjustment layer. If you create a selection of an object in step 1, then a layer mask is applied when you add adjustment layers, limiting the adjustments to only the masked area.
Step 3: Change the Color Using the Hue Slider
Within the hue/saturation adjustment layer properties panel, you can use the Hue slider to change the color of your object. If you didn’t make any mask or selection in step one, then you change the hue and saturation for the entire image.
You can limit the color to only affect specific color ranges. Use the eyedropper tool, next to where it says “Master” and click on the color you want to change. By dragging right or left, you change the saturation of that color range (i.e., blue/reds/greens/magenta/cyan.)
After selecting the color with the eyedropper tool or by clicking on the dropdown menu where it says “Master”, you can adjust the hue slider to change the color.
When you are done, you can close the dialogue box. You can also adjust the hue again by finding the HSL Adjustment Layer in the Layers panel.
One of the beauties of using a hue/saturation layer is that it affects multiple layers. The color replacement tool works only on the active layer.
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2. Using the Color Replacement Tool
Photoshop’s color replacement tool, lets Photoshop replace or change the color of an object into something completely different. It is probably the most easy tool to use for color change in Photoshop.
Step 1: Duplicate the Image Layer in the Layers Panel
The color replacement tool is destructive and ruins the original image layer.
To use a non-destructive approach you need to duplicate the background layer by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + J. This will add a copy of your background layer in the layers panel, which is the one affected when we replace colors.
Step 2: Open the Replace Color Tool
Go to Image > Adjustments > Replace Color.
Here, you can select the color sample you want to replace using the eyedropper/picker. You can add more than one color sample by using the eyedropper + (the picker with a plus sign).
You can remove any unwanted color sample by using the eyedropper tool – (the picker with a minus sign).
If you are adding to the color selection, ticking localized color clusters will help in more accurate selection as it won’t select stray colors, but only similar colors in your photo.
The fuzziness slider expands or contracts the selection by making it more generic or more specific. It basically increases the tolerance of the color samples selected.
Once you have selected the colors you want, you can simply change the hue, saturation, and lightness sliders in the bottom part of the Replace Color menu screen to change color.
Press OK, to let Photoshop replace the colors.
As with the other methods, you can press the add layer mask button and mask out areas that you don’t want to affect. Masking out areas will reveal the original photos.
3. Changing Color Using the Color Replacement Brush
The Color Replacement Brush is very well hidden under the brush settings. However, it is an incredible tool to help you change colors in Photoshop.
Step 1: Create a Duplicate Layer
With the Color Replacement Brush, you also paint directly onto the layer, destroying the original image layer.
Step 2: Activate the Color Replacement Brush tool and Change Color Mode
Select the Color Replacement Brush, and go to the Options bar. Find the Mode dropdown menu, and choose Color.
Next to the Mode dropdown, you can change the color sampling method if you prefer. The default is continuous, and it work pretty well and samples a similar color range that is under the cross-hair while brushing.
Step 3: Select the Target Color
Click on the foreground color, to open up the color picker dialogue and adjust it to the color you want to end up with.
Step 4: Paint Over the Colors You Want to Change
Start brushing over the colors you want to change in your photo. Photoshop will change those colors which match those colors under the crosshairs around the brush.
The actual paint technique is similar to using the ordinary Brush tool, although you want to ensure that crosshairs are always over all areas of the image you want to recolor.
As you brush the color change into the same color as the foreground color, without changing the details, but only colors under the crosshair.
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4. Changing colors using Blending Modes
The next method to change colors in Photoshop, we cover is using the Hue blending mode.
Step 1: Create a New Layer
Click on the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers Panel.
Step 2: Change Blending Mode
Change the blending mode of the new layer to Hue. You can also use the color blend mode. However, if you wish to keep both the saturation level and the luminosity values of the object, then use the Hue blending mode.
Step 3: Brush over to Replace the Color
Select the Brush and begin brushing over the object where you want to use a new color.
You might want to combine this method with some of the selection or masking tools to make sure you only affect the specific object and not other areas of the photo.
In our example, we only want to affect part of the boat.
5. Change Color Using a Color Fill Layer
You can also change the color of objects in your image using a color fill layer.
Step 1: Create the Fill Layer
Select New Fill Layer from the bottom of the Layers Panel. Set the color of the layer (i.e, blue), to your target color. Make sure the fill layer is on top of your pixel layer.
Step 2: Change the Blend Mode
Next, change the blend mode to color. This will color your entire image, but don’t worry, we will fix that.
Step 3: Create a Black Layer Mask
Hold down the Option/Alt while using the left mouse button to click on the Add Layer Mask button. This will add a black layer mask, which hides all of the color fill layer.
Step 4: Paint in the Color
Use the brush on the mask (painting with white), and paint it in the new color where you want it in your image.
Alternative Methods in Photoshop
Photoshop has so many different ways to get things done. You could also use the Gradient Map tool, Color Channels, or the Color Balance adjustments, to name just a few alternative methods in Photoshop.
However, I prefer to use the hue/saturation adjustment or the blending mode approach, as they are quite simple and offer great control over the photo editing process in Photoshop.
With the range of tools in Adobe Photoshop to change colors, you can achieve anything and get professional results. However, if you can get a realistic result also depends on your photo, and the amount of effort you put into the whole process.
How do you change a color in Photoshop? Which tool in Photoshop is your favorite for this task? Do you prefer the hue and saturation approach or completely other methods to adjust colors in your images? Let us know in the comments below!