Painting to Change Color in Photoshop
In this tutorial, I’ll walk you step-by-step through the process of painting to change color in Photoshop. Honestly, there are about a billion different ways to change an object’s color in Photoshop, but I really like this particular method because it allows me to paint my chosen color onto whatever it is I’m editing using Blend Modes to make the magic happen.
You can even experiment with different blend modes to see which gives you the most appealing look for your color change! For instance, this tutorial uses ‘Color’ blend mode, but my personal favorite is actually ‘Hue’ blend mode. I find that Hue tends to look better over shadowed areas, and generally makes the color change look more believable overall. But feel free to give them both a try and see which you prefer! The awesome thing about this color change method is that after you paint the effect on, you can easily change the blend mode as many times as you’d like!
Step 1. Add a New Blank Layer
To do this, click the ‘New Layer’ button at the bottom of your layers panel. (The icon looks like a sheet of paper.)
Step 2. Change the Blend Mode of your New Layer
1.) – In your layers panel, click the tab that says ‘Normal’.
2.) – From the flyout menu, select ‘Color’ (or ‘Hue’, you can experiment and see which works better for you!)
Step 3. Sample your Current Color
Once your layer is in the ‘Color’ blend mode, you can now choose the color you wish to paint with. Before I do this, I’ll sample the current color that I’d like to change.
1.) – First, select the eyedropper tool. (Example 1 in the image).
2.) – Sample the color of the area you wish to change by clicking with your eyedropper tool. (Example 2 shows that I sampled from the area just below her feet.)
(*I use the eyedropper tool to sample the current color so that when I choose a new tone, I can select one with a similar degree of darkness as the one already in the image. This way, if my current color is a bit on the darker side, I can select another darker toned color.)
3.) – Once your current color is selected, double click the color display. (Example 3 in the image shows you where to click.)
Step 4. Choose your New Color
After double clicking the color display in the last step, you should now see a ‘Color Picker’ box.
From here, you will see your current color displayed and can now select a new one. I clicked the area between Red and Purple on the color gradient to choose a magenta color.
I did not adjust the shade of my color, as I wanted to select a deep magenta to replace the deep teal of the blanket. (Sometimes if you select a new color that is much darker or much lighter than your current color, the color change seems less realistic and you may be able to tell a change was made.)
Once you’ve chosen the color you like, hit OK.
Step 5. Paint your New Color onto Your Photo
You can now use the brush tool to paint this new color onto the area you wish to change. Be careful around edges and near your subject. You can lower the opacity or use a smaller brush size to get into trickier areas of your image.
Step 6. Check for Color Casts
After changing the color of the object, pay close attention to any color casts that were left behind from the old color. You can use a soft brush at a very low opacity (around 10%) to paint over these color casts and make the new color change more believable.
Step 7. Fix any Mistakes
If you make any mistakes, you can add a layer mask and paint with a black brush to remove the color effect from any areas you don’t want it to apply. (To add a mask, hit the Layer Mask button at the bottom of your layers panel. It looks like a rectangle with a circle inside.)
That’s it! You’re finished!
To see another method for changing color, you can watch this video. Both of these techniques work well when paired together!
*Please note: Changing the color of an object that is black or white can be very tricky. If you are having trouble with these color changing methods, it may be that your current object is too dark (black) or too light (white) to be believably altered. You can try lightening or darkening your object first and then attempting to change the color afterward, but results may vary.*
If you enjoyed this tutorial, I’d love to invite you to join me for my online Photoshop course, The Photoshop Fanatic. It’s an easy-to-follow, go-at-your-own-pace course that teaches Photoshop from the very beginning. It begins with a walk-through introduction and explanation of the various tools, layers, and filters in the program. You’ll learn what they are, how to use them, and then we’ll build on that knowledge, working our way up to achieving full, in-depth edits with ease.
To see if The Photoshop Fanatic Course is right for you, click here to read more about it.