Sometimes you take a shot and later see that the color harmony is just not there. Maybe there’s a dominance of deep browns and reds, but there is something distracting that is a bright green. Do you just chalk it up to another so so image, or do you try some Photoshop magic to make it an epic image? To me the answer lies with how confident you are with your Photoshop skills and whether you think it’s ethical. Personally, I don’t see a problem with the ethics unless it is major violation of copyright or trademark laws, such as changing the Coke logo from red to green.
So how do you change the color of something in Photoshop and make it look realistic? You know there is a way, but not quite sure of it. Well as it turns out, there are several ways. I’m going to show you a couple of ways that are very simple.
The first way is with a Hue and Saturation adjustment layer. See the image below where the girl has on a shirt that doesn’t blend well with the background. I want the shirt to be more of a blue-green color.
Bad Color Harmony
So add a Hue and Saturation adjustment layer. This technique usually gets you about 90% there and then you have to mask out the rest. Below is the Hue and Saturation adjustment layer dialog box. There are multiple ways to do this, but I am going to show you how I do it and I think it’s probably the easiest.
Hue And Saturation Dialog Box
The first thing you do is click on the color sampler (hand with finger pointing, see above). Then click in the area of the color you want to change. You will probably have different tones of that color, some dark and some light. Try to click in a mid tone. Clicking in the sample area will set your color bar for your current color (see image above) and the sliders will indicate a range of that color. Most of the time it will include colors you don’t really want. For example, our image has kind of a rust color in the shirt. When we select a sample with the color sampler it selects a color range that includes pinks, reds, oranges, and some yellows. This is too broad of a range for us, but we will get back to that in a moment.
Next, drag the Hue slider to the left or right until you see the shirt change to the color you want. You may also want to adjust the Saturation and Lightness sliders to refine the color tones. As you move these sliders you will see it change everything in the image that is within the color range of the current color. Since her skin and shorts are included in the color range they too are replaced with the new color. See below.
Now you need to refine the color range for the current color to remove the pinks, most of the reds, and yellows. To remove these colors go to the color range sliders and move all of them in toward the center. You may have to play with them a little to get the replacement where you want. See the image below where most of the replacement color has been removed from her skin and shorts.
After Adjusting The Color Range
Below is the Hue and Saturation dialog box showing the settings I used.
You should also notice that the Colors dropdown (next to the pointing hand) has changed to Reds. This is because the color range you selected for the sample was in the red family of colors. It’s important because if you need to make a change later you need to be sure to go to the Reds color. That is where all of the adjustments will be. When you initially open the dialog box it defaults to Master.
Now the final adjustment is to mask off the adjustment where you don’t want it. From the image above you can see that the adjustment is still on her face and fingers but not really anywhere else. Most of this is pretty easy to mask. The only challenge is her fingers that are on her side. Be careful not to remove the adjustment from here shirt around those fingers. See below for the final adjustment.
If you look closely you will see that there are still some edges that need cleaning up, but the idea is to understand the technique. It’s not hard once you have done it a couple of times.
Next time we will explore another method of changing color and making it look realistic.