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How to Change the Color of an Object in Photoshop

Drew is a Photoshop wizard and someone who has millions of ideas, but no paper or pencil to jot them down.

I Don't Like This Color

In this tutorial I will guide you through the steps needed to change colors of anything that you want. Changing the colors of something is very easily done in Photoshop! Maybe you want to see what your shirt will look like in a different color or change the color of your eyes for "gits and shiggles". Considering dying your hair? This is the perfect solution do see what you will look like before and after. It's just a matter of preparing the picture to be changed before you...well...change it! If you've ever painted your walls, you know to tape off the sections that you don't want painted beforehand. This is the very same concept in Photoshop that we will be applying.

To begin with a sample image, I'll provide you with an image of my truck, a pretty blue Ford Ranger. It is a little wet from that morning's rain, but soon it will be wet in a completely different color!
Don't be afraid to work with your own photo! I'm only giving you a sample to follow me along with!

The original image. (With some blurring on my plate)

The original image. (With some blurring on my plate)


Let's Start!

When I begin with any project, I start by opening the photo and saving it as a .psd file. This ensures that you won't accidentally save over your original picture and creates a file to load if your computer decides to shutdown on you (it has happened to me quite a bit!). After saving this project as a .psd, go to the Layers Window and right click on the layer labeled "Background" and select Layer from Background. This will create a new layer called "Layer 0". Duplicate Layer 0. Rename the new layer as "Workable Truck".
Remember to name your layers! It is always a good idea to work on different layers and to have a duplicate of the original in case there is a massive accident that cannot be undone.

Selecting What You Want

 Next, we'll select what we want to change! This is kind of like taping off the section when you paint a room. Select any Lasso Tool. As always, I prefer to use the Polygonal Lasso Tool. But feel free to use any one that you want.

For this part, select the truck's blue metal. But avoid the black parts in-between. You don't want to color that. You'll notice that sometimes there are parts that you didn't select, but you still need. There's a way to add these parts. Hold the shift key and click to start a new lasso where you need to select the part. This will make an additional selection while still keeping the selection you have already made! Also, there is a way to subtract an area that you don't want. Hold Alt and then click to start a new lasso where you don't want. It's as easy as that.
Hint: You don't have to hold "Shift" or "Alt" the whole time you are selecting something. Once you click, you can let go!


New Layer

Now that you have all of the things you want selected, Copy and Paste it into a new layer. Either do Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste or hit Ctrl + C and then Ctrl + V. Name this new layer Metal. You're selecting will disappear from view once you do this, Don't worry. It's still there, it's just in the layer now.

Thumbnails are to the left of the layer name, and to the right of the eyeball

Thumbnails are to the left of the layer name, and to the right of the eyeball

Selective Pixels

Now we can't just paint all willy nilly. We need to go back and re-select the "Metal" layer. This is simple. In the Layer's Window you will see the different layers you have. You will also notice that there are thumbnails (little pictures) of what is on the layer. In this case, we want the "Metal" layer. Right click on the thumbnail of the "Metal" layer and select Select Pixels. This will then select all the pixels that are in that specific layer.


Painting Methods

There are different methods to coloring in object and photos in Photoshop. I will share 2 of them with you. Don't choose just one specific method. It's nice to know both!

Scroll to Continue

Brush Tool
To begin, select the Brush Tool. Go up to the brush's mode option drop down box. Select the option Color. At the bottom of the Toolbar you will see two boxes. These are your color boxes. For now, click on the box that is above the other one. This is your foreground color. This will be the color you will be painting with. Once clicked, a color palette window will be before you. The bar on the right hand side of this pop up window will be your different hues that you can choose from. The middle, bigger box will give you the various tints and shades of the hue.
Hint: A tint is a color with an addition of white. A shade is a color with an addition of black.
Once you have selected a color, go ahead and paint over the blue metal! And let's see what you come out with.

Hue/Saturation Method
Personally, I'm not a fan of this method. I prefer the Brush Tool. But for all intents and purposes, it's up to you! To find the Hue/Saturation option, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or press Ctrl + U. This will bring up the Hue/Saturation option. Sliding the Hue bar will change the color of whatever you're changing. Sliding the Saturation bar will either add more color or take away color. Careful with this though. A picture can be too over or under saturated. Tread lightly. The Lightness Bar will either add white or add black. This is also another thing to watch out for. Having part of a photo too dark or light will make the photo unbelievable. A really big no-no in Photoshop.


Final Adjustments

 You will know what looks right and what looks wrong. If there is some still blue or any color that doesn't belong, color over it. Change the opacity of the brush if you have to. Hint: Opacity is the intensity of the brush or how much it will show up. In this case, I missed some under the hood, a little blue glow on top of the truck, and a little on the chrome bumper. Let's see the final product!


Followed Along?

If you followed along with the tutorial you should have come out with a picture that is similar to the one above. If yours looks a little off don't worry! It takes some time and practice to get things to be good! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave a comment below. If you did not find this tutorial helpful, please comment below! It always help me create better content when I know that something was not covered to its full extent. If you want me to write another tutorial on how to do something you're curious about doing, comment below as well!

© 2011 Drew Overholt


Jacobb9205 on February 07, 2015:

Awesome, very useful, thank you!

Gael on October 27, 2014:

Thanks, really cool lense, I am an artist from Mauritius, you can check my work and your feedbacks are most welcome! Gael

trushan on January 11, 2013:

thank you

DaNoblest from California on March 14, 2011:

Very useful and well written tutorial. Thank you!

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