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How do I change the color of an object? from Lightroom: Tips and Quick Fixes by Richard Harrington

How do I change the color of an object?

Oftentimes, you’re asked to change the color of something in a scene. It might be something that’s very specific, like a piece of clothing. Or maybe just something that you’d like to add emphasis to. Let me show ya two ways of doing this. First is just in Lightroom. And then, we’ll jump into Photoshop. I’ll select this image here. And what I’d like to do is really bring out some of the details a bit. First up, one of the things to realize is that you can actually paint on the image itself. But, you’re going to want to take control.

Over here, you can click the adjustment brush. And this allows you to paint to make a selection. To control what’s selected, I suggest the following. Come down here, and choose auto mask. And as you start to adjust, you can see things. So I’ll paint on the image here, and I can start to judge. Now in order to see things a little bit better, I’m going to turn on a color. So there’s my brush and my masking, but I’m going to add a color here so it’s easier to see.

This color isn’t really used, it’s just useful so we can judge what’s happening here with the selection. So now, I can quickly paint over the item that I want using the auto mask feature, makes a little bit easier to detect edges. There we go. If I need to subtract, I can hold down the option or alt key, and I could paint away. And now, I’ll click on that color, and turn it back off.

Now you’ll notice that you have full controls up here. So you could adjust the temperature and the tint. In this case, I took that statue that was blue and shifted it more to a red. Remember, if needed, you can continue to paint on that. So you can add a little bit more, and paint for any missed areas. Now, as you paint here, you’ve got full control. That added two pins, so let’s delete that one.

And instead, select this pin so it’s currently active. And I’ll make sure that I’m editing the mask. So now as I paint, it continues to add to the same mask. Besides temperature and tint, you also have saturation. So you can really adjust the colors further. And you might notice that you need to add a little bit more or subtract. You can adjust the size of the brush using the left and right bracket keys, so you can really get into some smaller spaces.

In this case, I can just erase away some of the stray pixels there. There we go. And that works quite well. Now, this is going to allow you to really get in there, and continue to use all of the controls here for temperature and tint as well as adjust the shadows and the contrast. And you can see that in this case, once I click done, what I was able to do is go from blue to red. And it’s often quite possible that you could substantially shift the overall colors by just painting selectively within the image.

Now this method works very well, but if you do have access to Photoshop, I find that sometimes it’s easier to jump into Photoshop very quickly. Let me show ya. With our next image selected here, I’m happy with the overall image. But I’d like to substantially change the color of this ball. What I’ll do with the image selected is I’ll choose Photo > Edit in > Open as a smart object in Photoshop. This will send the picture into a new document in Photoshop, and preserve the RAW file inside.

Now, Photoshop will launch and opens the RAW photo as a new Photoshop document. You’ll see, in fact, that there’s the layer with your Lightroom adjustments. If you double click, everything you did in Lightroom is now available here inside of camera RAW so you can tweak. So for example, if needed you could assign lens corrections or adjust the amount of dehaze or perhaps a slight vignette as you feel fit.

And when you click okay, the RAW file will update. But what I want to do here is select the ball here to change its color. With the layer active, I can choose the quick selection tool. It’s right here, or the shortcut key is w. Now, very quickly, you can drag through an item to select it. And it does a great job of recognizing the edges and making a clean selection. There we go. Now, I could choose select and mask in the top toolbar.

And you can easily see what’s happening. Feel free to adjust the radius and smart radius to clean up the edges. And very quickly, a complex selection is made. If needed, you can smooth or feather to get a gentler edge. And you can choose to view this a couple a ways. Seeing just the item you chose. Looking at it as the image over white or black. Or the ability to see it to see it as a mask.

So this can make it a bit simpler. When you’re ready, just click okay, and it will create a selection. Now, from the pop-up list here, I can choose hue saturation. Click the colorized box, and you can choose any color that you want. And adjust the saturation and the lightness, making it very easy to tint the image.

Now, if that seems a bit too heavy-handed, here’s a little secret. Rather than doing the entire adjustment layer and having it affect all of the pixels, I could set the blending mode of that layer to something more gentle like hue. And now, you’ll notice that it’s only applying to the colored areas, not as much to the other gray values down here. A blending mode like hue or color is going to work pretty well. I generally find that hue works the best.

So now, I can easily adjust the saturation and choose whatever color I want for that object. In this case, a nice vivid red that’s super-dark and rich. Now, I’ll just close the file and click save, switch on back to Lightroom, and the file is sent back and stacked with your original. So you can see the original file and the one that went over to Photoshop where you can easily select the object and quickly recolor it.