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Easily change color in your image using Replace Color

Added on Thursday 15th of July 2010 06:15 am EST

Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5
Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


If your image is perfect except for the hue, Photoshop offers an easy fix. Use the Replace Color command for a precise, versatile color swap, and before you know it you’ll be changing all of your gray skies to blue!


To replace color in an image with the Replace Color command, we’ll:


• Isolate the color we want to change.

• Replace that color with another.

• Look at a few alternatives to isolate a color value in order to obtain a more precise color selection.


You’ve just spent several hours searching through your photo files for a close-up shot of a flashlight you want to use for a sales presentation. It’s perfect—except for the color. The flashlight is yellow, and you need a green one, as shown in Figure A. You took the shot several months ago, and there’s no time to reshoot it. What do you do? By using Photoshop’s Replace Color command you can easily and quickly substitute one color for another, turning a yellow flashlight to green or whatever other color you desire.


Determine the replacement color


Photoshop’s Replace Color command is one of the easier commands to use because you work within only one dialog box. The command creates a mask around specific colors and then replaces those colors in the image. To follow along with our example, download using the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article, extract the file flashlight.tif, launch Photoshop and open the file.

Select Image > Adjustments > Replace Color. The Replace Color dialog box opens, as shown in Figure B. Select the Preview check box on the right side of the dialog box so you can see your results as you go. On the left side of the dialog box you’ll see two panes, Selection and Replacement.


Setting Selection values


The Selection settings determine which color values you want to replace:



Fuzziness. By moving this slider, you adjust the tolerance setting of the replace color mask. (We do think “fuzziness” is a strange name in this instance.) You can set the value by either entering a numeric value in the Fuzziness text box or by adjusting the Fuzziness slider.



Image. By selecting this or the Selection option button, you determine the method for selecting the color value you want to replace. The Image option button displays your image in the preview box, and when you move your mouse pointer inside the preview box, an Eyedropper icon appears, as shown in Figure C, allowing you to select the replacement color value.




Selection. By selecting this option button, you display the color mask in the preview window. When you move your mouse pointer to this area, an Eyedropper icon appears, as shown in Figure D, allowing you to create the replace color mask. Masked areas are in black, unmasked areas are in white, and partially masked areas appear in shades of gray, depending upon their opacity.



Setting Replacement values


Once you’ve set the replacement color value, you then determine the color hue and amount of saturation and lightness with which to replace it by adjusting the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness as follows:



Hue. This refers to the color value setting of the replacement color. As the hue value is adjusted to a color, the replacement color changes along the range shown in Figure E. You can set the value by either entering a numeric value in the Hue text box or by adjusting the Hue slider.