Select a color range in an image

Select a range of colors

The Color Range command selects a specified color or color range within an existing selection or an entire image. If you want to replace a selection, be sure to deselect everything before applying this command. The Color Range command is not available for 32‑bits-per-channel images.

To refine an existing selection, use the Color Range command repeatedly to select a subset of colors. For example, to select the green areas in a cyan selection, select Cyans in the Color Range dialog box, and click OK. Then reopen the Color Range dialog box, and select Greens. (The results are subtle because this technique selects parts of colors within a color mix.)

You can also select skin tones and automatically detect faces to select them. To create a selection that preserves skin tones while you adjust the color of everything else, select Invert below the eyedropper samplers.

  1. Choose Select > Color Range.

    You can also use Color Range to refine a layer mask. See Adjust mask opacity and edges.

  2. From the Select menu, choose one of the following:

    Skin Tones

    To select colors that resemble common skin tones. Enable Detect Faces for more accurate skin tone selection.

    Sampled Colors

    To enable the Eyedropper tool and pick sample colors from the image. If you are selecting multiple color ranges in the image, select Localized Color Clusters to build a more accurate selection.

    • A color or tonal range. You won't be able to adjust the selection if you use this option.
  3. Select one of the display options:


    Previews the selection that will result from the colors you sample in the image. By default, white areas are selected pixels, black areas are unselected, and gray areas are partially selected.


    Previews the entire image. For example, you might want to sample from a part of the image that isn't on‑screen.


    To toggle between the Image and Selection previews in the Color Range dialog box, press Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS).

  4. For sampled colors, position the Eyedropper pointer over the image or preview area, and click to sample the colors you want included.

    Photoshop Sample a color
    Sampling color

    To adjust the selection:

    • To add colors, select the plus eyedropper, and click in the preview area or image.
    • To remove colors, select the minus eyedropper, and click in the preview area or image.

    To activate the plus eyedropper temporarily, hold down Shift. Hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) to activate the minus eyedropper.

  5. Adjust the range of colors selected using the Fuzziness slider or by entering a value. The Fuzziness setting controls how wide a range of colors is in the selection, and increases or decreases the amount of partially selected pixels (gray areas in the selection preview). Set a low Fuzziness value to restrict the color range, a higher value to increase the range.
    Photoshop Increasing fuzziness
    Increasing fuzziness expands selection

    If you selected Localized Color Clusters, use the Range slider to control how far or near a color must be from the sample points to be included in the selection. For example, your image contains a patch of yellow flowers in both the foreground and the background, but you want to select just the foreground flowers. Sample the colors in the foreground flowers and reduce the Range so that the similarly colored flowers in the background are not selected.

  6. To preview the selection in the image window, choose a Selection Preview option:


    Shows the original image.


    Shows white for completely selected pixels, gray for partially selected ones, and black for unselected ones.

    Black Matte

    Shows the original image for selected pixels, and black for unselected ones. This option is good for bright images.

    White Matte

    Shows the original image for selected pixels, and white for unselected ones. This option is good for dark images.

    Quick Mask

    Shows unselected areas as a rubylith overlay (or a custom color you've specified in the Quick Mask Options dialog box).

  7. To revert to the original selection, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and click Reset.
  8. To save and load color range settings, use the Save and Load buttons in the Color Range dialog box to save and reuse the current settings.

    You can save Skin Tones selection settings as a preset.


If you see the message "No pixels are more than 50% selected," the selection border will not be visible. You may have picked a color choice from the Select menu, such as Reds, when the image didn't contain any red hues with high enough saturation.

Save Skin Tones settings as a preset

The Color Range selections command saves Skin Tones selections as a preset. It can also save the setting for the Detect Faces option when you select Skin Tones or Sampled Colors.

To save Skin Tones settings as a preset:

  1. Choose Select > Color Range.

  2. In the Color Range dialog box, choose Skin Tones from the Select menu.

  3. For more accurate skin tone selection, select Detect Faces and then adjust the Fuzziness slider or enter a value. To help you make your selections, make sure the display option is set to Selection and choose a Selection Preview to view your selections in the document window.

  4. Click the Save button and in the Save window, type a file name for the skin tone preset, and then click Save.

To load a skin tones preset:

  1. In the Color Range dialog box, click the Load button.

  2. In the Load window, select the preset file you want, and then click Load.

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