How to Adjust Colors in Photoshop
Suppose you find the perfect Shutterstock photo for your project, but part of it is a color that doesn’t match what you need. It’s easy to make color adjustments in Adobe Photoshop. Here we’ll show you two ways to do this, one that’s super fast, and one that takes longer but works well for finely detailed color changes. Both these tools are available in all recent versions of Photoshop Creative Suite.
Method 1: Use the Replace Color menu item
This menu item is the fastest way to replace every occurrence of a color in an image. It works best for simple tasks, like altering a single object isolated on a solid background. In this example, we’re going to turn a black-and-white cow into a strawberry cow. Here’s our original:
Open the image in Photoshop, then go to the top menu and click on Image -> Adjustments -> Replace Color. This will open a window and turn your cursor into an eyedropper tool. Use the eyedropper to click on the color you want to replace. Then adjust the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders to achieve the effect you want.
For our cow image, we’ll click the eyedropper on the white part of the cow, and we’ll adjust the sliders until we achieve the desired effect.
Here’s what we get:
Method 2: Use the Color Replacement Tool
When you have a more complicated image, the Color Replacement Tool is usually your best choice. In this example, suppose we want to change the red nail polish in this photo to a less conservative shade of green.
It’s more challenging because we have several different brightness levels of the red color, and we have a model’s hands which are similar in hue to some parts of the nail polish.
Definitely a job for the Color Replacement Tool. You’ll find it with the Brush and Pencil tools in your toolbar.
Once you’ve selected this tool, you can set a variety of adjustments to make the tool right for your particular job. For this particular image, we have set the Brush Size to 15, the mode to Color, the limits to “Find Edges” and the Tolerance to 30%. We’ve also set the sampling option to “Continuous,” as you’ll see below.
Now you’ll be able to paint over a part of your image, and Photoshop will take a sampling of the color and adjust nearby occurrences of that color to match your current foreground color.
Now we’ll set our foreground color to a funky shade of green and carefully replace all the red nail polish. Here’s the result after the first application of the tool. As you can see, we missed a few spots.
So let’s go back in with the Tolerance set to 100% and the brush size set much smaller—just 3px—to do some touch-up. Here’s the result:
The best way to master Color Adjustments and the Color Replacement Tool is to open a photo and play around, to get a feel for how each tool works. Soon you’ll be making strawberry cows, giving models wild nail polish, and causing all sorts of colorful mayhem. Be creative!
Cow image © Eric Isselée/Shutterstock
Nail polish image © originalpunkt/Shutterstock