Replace object colors

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Learn how to replace the color of objects in an image using various methods in Photoshop

Replace the color of objects in an image

Photoshop provides several techniques that let you replace the colors of objects. For great flexibility and results, apply a Hue/Saturation adjustment to selected objects. For less flexibility but a convenient grouping of options, use the Replace Color dialog box. For speed but less precision, try the Color Replacement tool.

Before replacing color in an image After replacing color in an image

Apply a Hue/Saturation adjustment to selected objects

In most cases, this flexible technique best replaces colors. Because masks and adjustment layers are non-destructive, you can later fine-tune the results with complete freedom. A unique Colorize option makes absolute, rather than relative, color changes (avoiding tinting from original colors).

  1. Select the object you want to change. The Quick Selection tool  often produces good results. For additional techniques, see Select a color range and Select and Mask.

  2. In the Adjustments panel, click the Hue/Saturation icon. The selection becomes a mask on the adjustment layer.

  3. In the Properties panel, change Hue and Saturation settings to replace the object’s color. If the original color tints the new color, select Colorize, and readjust settings. (See Adjust hue and saturation.)

    Note:

    Leave the Lightness setting at zero to maintain contrast. To maintain both contrast and saturation, select the Hue blending mode for the adjustment layer.

  4. If necessary, enlarge or reduce the affected area by painting on the mask with white or black. (See Edit a layer mask.)

For more information, see Adjustments panel overview.

Use the Replace Color dialog box

The Replace Color dialog box combines tools for selecting a color range with HSL sliders for replacing that color. You can also choose the replacement color in the Color Picker.

Replace Color lacks the Colorize option from the Hue/Saturation adjustment, which may be needed for a complete color change. You may also find the adjustment layer technique easier for changing specific objects. However, the Replace Color command is good for global color changes—especially changing out-of-gamut colors for printing.

Select Replace Color in Photoshop
Select Replace Color in Photoshop

Replace Color dialog in Photoshop
Replace Color dialog in Photoshop

  1. Choose Image > Adjustments > Replace Color.
  2. (Optional) If you are selecting similar, contiguuous colors in the image, select Localized Color Clusters to build a more accurate mask.
  3. Select a preview option:

    Selection

    Displays the mask in the preview box. Masked areas are black, and unmasked areas are white. Partially masked areas (areas covered with a semitransparent mask) appear as varying levels of gray according to their opacity.

    Image

    Displays the image in the preview box. This option is useful when you are working with a magnified image or have limited screen space.

  4. To select the colors that you want to replace, use the Eyedropper tool  to click in the image or in the preview box to select the areas exposed by the mask.
  5. To refine the selection, do any of the following:
    • Shift-click or use the Add To Sample Eyedropper tool  to add areas.

    • Alt-click (Windows), Option-click (Mac OS), or use the Subtract From Sample Eyedropper tool  to remove areas.

    • Click the Selection Color swatch to open the Color Picker. Use the Color Picker to target the color you want replaced. As you select a color in the Color Picker, the mask in the preview box is updated.

  6. Drag the Fuzziness slider or enter a Fuzziness value to control the degree to which related colors are included in the selection.
  7. Specify a Replacement color by doing either of the following:
    • Drag the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness sliders (or enter values in the text boxes).

    • Double-click the Result swatch and use the Color Picker to select the replacement color.

    Note:

    You cannot replace pure gray, black, or white with a color. However, you can change the Lightness setting. (The Hue and Saturation settings are relative to existing color, so they have no effect.)

  8. (Optional) Click Save to store settings you will later load for other images.

Use the Color Replacement tool

The Color Replacement tool paints over a targeted color with a replacement color. While this tool is good for quick edits, it often proves unsatisfactory, particularly with dark colors and black. If you don’t get good results after experimenting with tool options, see Adjust hue and saturation.

The Color Replacement tool doesn’t work in Bitmap, Indexed, or Multichannel color mode.

  1. Select the Color Replacement tool  . (If the tool isn’t visible, access it by holding down the Brush tool.)
  2. In the options bar, choose a brush tip. Generally, you should keep the blending mode set to Color.
  3. For the Sampling option, choose one of the following:

    • Continuous: Samples colors continuously as you drag.
    • Once: Replaces the targeted color only in areas containing the color that you first click.
    • Background Swatch: Replaces only areas containing the current background color.
  4. From the Limits menu, select one of the following:

    Discontiguous: Replaces the sampled color wherever it occurs under the pointer.

    Contiguous: Replaces colors that are contiguous with the color immediately under the pointer.

    Find Edges: Replaces connected areas containing the sampled color while better preserving the sharpness of shape edges.

  5. For Tolerance, choose a low percentage to replace colors very similar to the pixel you click, or raise the percentage to replace a broader range of colors.

    Note:

    If the range of replaced colors is too small, increase the Tolerance setting in the options bar.

  6. To produce a smooth edge in the corrected areas, select Anti-aliased.
  7. Choose a foreground color to replace the unwanted color. (See Choose colors in the toolbox.)
  8. Click the color you want to replace in the image.
  9. Drag in the image to replace the targeted color.
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