Have you ever taken a photograph that would be perfect if you could just change the colour of something?
Perhaps you use stock images and want to make yours look a little different to everyone else's.
Today’s tutorial will walk you through one method to do just that using Photoshop. For today’s example, I’ll be changing the colour of a glass coaster in a stock photo from the Resource Library.
CHANGING THE COLOUR OF AN OBJECT
To change the colour of an object, you’ll need to learn how to use the Photoshop Quick Selection Tool, a Layer Mask and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.
The Quick Selection Tool method works best when you have good contrast between an object and its background. In the video example, the coaster has a nice defined edge and its colour contrasts well against the white background. A perfect specimen for the Quick Selection Tool.
QUICK SELECTION TOOL
To select an object using the Quick Selection Tool, you simply click and drag around its edge. Your selection will appear as ‘marching ants’.
Don’t worry if your selection isn’t perfect first time. On the Options Panel at the top of the screen, you’ll notice three brush types: new selection, add to selection, or subtract from selection. Once you have marching ants, you can then refine your selection by using the add-to or subtract-from brushes.
If you prefer to use keyboard shortcuts, hold down your Shift key to turn the brush into a + (add to selection) or hold the Alt/Option key down to turn the brush into a - (subtract from selection).
You can also improve your selection by changing the size of your brush. This can be done on the Options Bar at the top or by pressing your left square bracket [ to reduce its size or your right square bracket ] to increase its size. I find it easier to set my brush size using the square brackets, as you are actually hovering over the image at the time.
Photoshop has an amazing range of edits, effects and adjustments you can apply to a photograph. Layer Masks make these more powerful by allowing you to apply these changes to a specific area of a photograph.
Layer Masks appear as black, white or shades of grey. The darker the colour, the more the image is protected from any changes. In this example, we’ll use a layer mask to protect the rest of the photograph while we make changes to the coaster. On the layer mask, the coaster will appear as white (not protected from any changes) and the rest of the photograph will appear black (completely protected from any changes).
HUE/SATURATION ADJUSTMENT LAYER
This is the final stage and this is where we actually change the colour of the coaster.
With a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer, you can colorise the selection and change not only the hue (colour) but also the saturation and lightness. Go easy on the sliders. You can move the hue slider to your heart's content, but subtle changes work best on the saturation and lightness sliders.
This video will show you how to:
Use the Quick Selection Tool to define an area.
Create a Layer Mask on a photo.
Apply a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer.
With your photograph layer selected, press Ctrl/Cmd J to create a duplicate.
Choose the Quick Selection Tool (shortcut W) from the Tool Bar on the left-hand side.
Hover over your image and change the brush size (square brackets) to suit the object you are selecting.
With your duplicate layer selected, click and drag across the object you want to select.
Use your + (add to selection) or - (subtract from selection) brushes to refine your selection.
When you are happy with your marching ants, click on the Layer Mask icon (rectangle with a circle in it) at the bottom of the layer stack. The layer mask will appear on the same layer showing your selection in white and everything else in black.
Click on the Adjustment Layer icon (a half black, half white circle) at the bottom of the Layer stack and choose Hue/Saturation.
Open up the Layers Panel again and you will see the following layers: your original image on the bottom, a duplicate with a layer mask in the middle, and a hue/saturation adjustment layer at the top.
With the Hue/Saturation layer selected, hold down your Alt or Option key and hover between the Hue/Saturation layer and the Duplicate with a Layer Mask layer. When you see a box with an arrow appear, click to clip them together.
Double click on the Hue/Saturation icon on the left-hand side of the Hue/Saturation layer.
In your Hue/Saturation Panel, check the box Colorise.
Slide the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders left and right until you get the colour you want.
BEFORE & AFTER
There are a lot of steps when they are written out . Don’t let this put you off. Once you get the hang of using layer masks, it really does greatly improve how you edit your photographs. As with all these things, the more you practice, the easier it gets. Just start with a simple image, a strong-coloured object with a clear edge on a light background.
If you'd like to have a go, you can find the image used in the video in the Resource Library. If you don’t like my lovely gold coaster, then please feel free to change it to any colour you choose, no offence taken.