There are several color changing tools in Photoshop. Match Color, Replace Color, Hue / Saturation Adjustment are the three most prominent. The problem is they don’t do a perfect job. Why? The color they match, replace or hue change is a color that can contaminate the end result. There is a more versatile way although can seem a bit cumbersome.

Dealing with Color Contamination

The color change tools in Photoshop have to work with the underlying color. It can contaminate the result. The Hue / Saturation adjustment works the best of any I have found. It’s still limited. For instance, changing the color of something like this black velvet dress like the one Jennie’s wearing. There is no hue in black. There is a small color cast. The first step takes care of that.


Select the dress or color to be changed

Let’s stat by accurately selecting the dress.

  1. Use your favorite selection tool to make a selection of the dress. I used the Pen tool.
  2. Press Command (PC: Control) + J to jump the selection to a new layer.
  3. Name this layer Grayscale.
  4. Choose Image > Adjustments > Desaturate or press Command (PC: Control) + Shift + U. This removes any color by turning the selected area into black and white.
  5. Press Command (PC: Control) + J to duplicate the Grayscale layer. Rename it Mulitply.

SO Color Change-007Make Smart Objects

Now let’s work nondestructively.

  1. Press Command (PC: Control) twice to make two copies of the Smart Object Layer Multiply.
  2. Rename Multiply copy 1 to Overlay and copy 2 to Color. The layers are now named from top to bottom Color, Overlay, Multiply, Grayscale and whatever the background layer is named.
  3. Change the blending mode of each of the top three Smart Objects to Color for Color, Overlay for Overlay and Multiply for Multiply. The keyboard shortcuts are (with the Move tool active) Shift + Option (PC: Alt) + C (for Color), Shift + Option (PC: Alt) + O (for Overlay) and Shift + Option (PC: Alt) + M (for Multiply).
  4. These three layers show they are at 100% opacity. Change them to 50%.


Initial color change

For the first color let’s use red.

  1. Press B for the Brush tool.
  2. Hold down the Option (PC: Alt) key then click on Jennie’s red lipstick to sample the color.
  3. Double click on any one of the Smart Objects. It opens up in Photoshop.
  4. Select Edit > Fill > Foreground Color from Photoshop’s menu bar.
    SO Color Change-013
  5. Next choose File > Save then File > Close or from the keyboard Command (PC: Control) + S then Command (PC: Control) + W.

Brightening color

There’s red where before was only dark gray shadows. This isn’t quite red enough.

  1. First lower the opacity of the Multiply layer to 10%. That’s a bit better.
  2. Next click on Grayscale. Duplicate it by holding down Command (PC: Control) +J.
  3. Choose the Move tool (V) then tap 5 to make Grayscale copy 50% opacity.
  4. Change the blending mode to Screen, Shift + Option (PC: Alt) + S on the keyboard.
  5. Finally name the layer Grayscale Screen 50%. The result is still too dark for my eye.
  6. Duplicate Grayscale Screen 50% two more times. Sometimes using multiple copies is the best way to create a realistic color change.

SO Color Change-014

The screen layer brighten the underlying Grayscale layer. To make it darker, just click an eyeball or two off.

Blue velvet

It’s super easy to change to another color.

  1. Double click the foreground color to get to Photoshop’s color picker.
  2. Choose a blue. I used R:80, G:67, B:204. D
  3. ouble click any of the three Smart Objects.
  4. Fill it with the foreground color, save and close. Done.

SO Color Change-015

The Overlay and Color layer help finesse the tone and purity of the color. 50% is a solid beginning setting. Adjust these to get exactly the shade you want. Remember Multiply controls the brightness. Lower opacity is lighter while a higher opacity will be darker overall.