Re-coloring an object in an image can be usefull in any number of projects. I am reminded of the TV commercial of the painter taking a digital picture of a house and waiving his magical mouse over the picture on the laptop and WHACK-SMACK the house has a new coat of paint in a different color. What the commercial leaves out is the hour or so of masking, smoothing and gamma correcting to make the effect look real.

This tutorial will show you a short-cut that you can use that can give you the same professional result in 1/2 the time. As with any project, the more care you take the better your result. Here we will be doing a "quickie" change that would be usfull to "comp" an idea to a client. To follow along you will need Photoshop 5.5 or 6.

Lets begin by loading the image set the color space to RGB. Go to the layers pallet and copy the background layer (fig.1).

Fig. 2

Select the newly copied layer.

Next we need to do a rough mask around the parts ofthe image we are going to re-color. The more accurate your mask the better the result. I used a digital artpad to mask the areas of the girls sweater with the magnetic lasso for a rough selection (fig. 2) then the regular lasso to add (hold shift key) and remove (hold ALT/CMD key) areas of the mask until I was satisfied (fig.3).

    Fig. 2

Notice that the mask is not perfect, you can spend more time tightening up the selected areas but for our purposes, this is close enough.

Save the selection as a new channel in case you need to go back and clean it up some more or if you have to start over. (in the menu bar Selection>Save Selection).

Now its time to change the color of the sweater. Zoom out to view the whole image. With the sweater still selected open the "Hue and Saturation" panel (Ctrl-U or Image>Adjustments>Hue and Saturation). (fig.4)

Select the check box for "Colorize"

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Adjust the 3 sliders till the desired effect is achieved'

My example used :

  • Hue=50
  • Saturation=53
  • lightness= -23

Once you are satisfied with the settings click "OK". Press ctrl-D to deselect the sweater. Take a close look at the edges for any areas that might show through the old color.


Depending on the final use this small amount of bleed may not be visible in the final image. These areas of blue halos can be removed with the sponge (O) tool set to desaturate with a soft brush and a fow of 25% to 50%. Then recolored with a soft brush.

Select the eyedropper tool (I) and click ona blue area to be removed. Switch to the Sponge tool and desaturate the offending area. You do not need to remove all of the color just enough so the brush tool can do its job. se the eyedropper tool to select the color you are going to reshade the area with. Select the brush tool and a soft brush 30% larger than the area to paint. Set opacity to 20% and recolor the area. Do this process to each area as needed.


Here is the final image ready for your piece. at this resolution all of the defect are invisible. For larger work, more time and attention to detail would be required. It is up to you and your project.

Michael Richter


Michael S Richter © 2000 - 2011 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED