There are many ways to partially color a photo in Photoshop, but some don’t preserve the original image. For example, when you use the paintbrush, even at partial opacity, it brushes over some of the photo’s detail. A better way to change color without losing an object’s details it to adjust its hues.
The key is to change the hue only within a certain area of the photo. In this tutorial, I’ll use three selection techniques — polygonal lasso tool, rectangular marquee tool, and color range selection — and selectively adjust the hue to change the color in parts of the photo. Try this technique to adjust the colors in a photo for special effects or for professional considerations, such as when a client wants a different color to match a color scheme. Selectively adjusting hues is also a handy way to colorize black-and-white photos.
Polygon Lasso Tool: Step 1
Begin by opening a photo with a colored object you want to adjust. In the image below, the client requested that the car not be red.
Polygon Lasso Tool: Step 3
Click on the edge of the area you want to exclude. Move to the next area along the border in a straight line, clicking around the area until the polygonal lasso tool is back to where you started. Hover over the original point, and a circle over the cursor appears. Click to complete the selection.
Polygon Lasso Tool: Step 5
You also need to remove from the selection the red hood visible through the front windshield. Hold down Option (PC: Alt) and click around that area as well.
Polygon Lasso Tool: Step 7
Add a new adjustment layer to the selected pixels by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation.
Polygon Lasso Tool: Step 9
Adjust the hue to +100 to get a green color.
Polygon Lasso Tool: Step 11
If you’d like to try a different color, go to Edit > Step Backward to undo the most recent hue change. Now, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation. Press OK and set the hue to -143 for a blue hue. Notice that the hue is adjusted only for the areas you selected.
Rectangular Marquee Tool: Step 2
Instead of the polygonal lasso tool, select the rectangular marquee tool.
Rectangular Marquee Tool: Step 4
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation. Press OK after naming the adjustment layer.
Rectangular Marquee Tool: Step 6
Set the hue to +180 to get a more orange hue.
Color Range Selection Tool: Step 2
Go to Select > Color Range.
Color Range Selection Tool: Step 4
Click OK to select the specific color range in the sky.
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