Skip to main content

How to change the color of an object in Photoshop in three simple steps

The colors in a photograph convey a mood, but the existing colors in an image don’t always jive with the rest of the image or give you the mood that you’re looking for. Maybe that neon outfit is distracting, or you want to change the colors to match your decor before you commit the photo to print. Whatever it is, Adobe Photoshop can change the color of that object — and it’s surprisingly simple.

There are a few different ways to become a color-changing Photoshop wizard, but the hue adjustment is one of the easiest and most realistic. Here’s how to use it.

1. Select the object

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Selecting the object from the rest of the image is typically the most tedious part of the color-changing process, but Photoshop’s new object selection tool simplifies it. (The tool is available in Photoshop version 21.0, so make sure your software is up to date.) From the toolbar, select the Object Selection Tool. It’s located with the Magic Selection Wand — tap and hold the icon to change the selection tool to Object Selection.

Now, draw a box around the object that you want to adjust. Make sure the entire object is inside the box; you’ll get the best results if you draw the box tightly around the object. Photoshop will work its magic to detect the edges. You can refine the selection by holding the Shift key and drawing another box to add to the selection, or the Alt/Option key to subtract from the selection. In the sample image, I held down the option key and drew around the green leaf overlapping with the flower in order to deselect it.

2. Adjust the color using a hue/saturation adjustment layer

Image used with permission by copyright holder

With those marching ants still around the object, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation. This creates a layer to adjust the object’s color.

In the Adjustment Layer Properties Box, drag the hue slider to start changing the object’s color. (The box should automatically pop-up after you create your adjustment layer, but if not, click on the Top Icon on the right sidebar that has a cube on it.) Play with the hue slider until you’ve found a color that you like.

Next, adjust the saturation and lightness, if desired. The saturation will increase or decrease the intensity or amount of color, while lightness will lighten or darken the selected area.

Note: For very simple images, with no other objects with that same color in the photo, you can use color channels in the Master Dropdown Menu at the top of the Adjustment Layer Properties Panel. This is less precise and will change the color throughout the entire photo, not just the object. Occasionally, this method will work with simple images, but selecting the object first typically offers better results.

3. Refine the selection with brushes

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Adjusting the color of the object may make even slight errors in that original selection more obvious. To perfect the color change process, use the Paintbrushes to refine the adjustment layer. This process can get rid of the halo that’s sometimes created when changing the color of the object.

In an adjustment layer, if you click on the Black and White Mask on the Adjustment Layer icon, you can refine what’s included in that adjustment, using white to include those pixels and black to exclude them. Select the Paintbrush Tool and hit D on the keyboard to change the foreground and background colors to black and white. Use a white paintbrush to paint over any parts of the object that you missed in the original selection; use a black paintbrush to brush over any parts that should not have been selected. To correct minor halos at the edge, use a brush with soft edges. You can change both the brush type and size in the top panel.

Once you are finished adjusting the color, you can continue adjusting the rest of the image. With an adjustment layer, you can always go back in and use the hue slider again to make further adjustments — just select the Adjustment Layer from the Layer Panel.

When finished, save your image. A JPEG is easy to share, but if you want to come back and further refine that color, be sure to save a PSD file, too.

Editors' Recommendations

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
How to create a layer mask in Photoshop
Close up of Adobe Photoshop app icon being chosen from among other Adobe apps on a laptop screen.

If you’ve used Photoshop for image-editing, you know that the popular program can sometimes be a little intimidating for newcomers. One of the advanced, but vital tools you’ll need to get to grips with eventually is the humble layer mask. This feature allows you to alter small parts of an image, leaving other parts untouched.

In this guide, we explain all of the steps you need to follow to create a layer mask. Once you know how to create a layer mask, you can edit small parts of your images without having to change the entire thing.
What is a Photoshop layer mask?
A layer mask makes a portion of that layer invisible, revealing the layers underneath, while keeping other parts of the layer intact. Unlike making a selection to copy and paste into a new layer, a layer mask allows you to go back and make adjustments to what’s included in the selection (and what’s not included) at any point in the editing process.

Read more
Image Editing 101: How to crop and straighten an image in Photoshop
Close up of Adobe Photoshop app icon being chosen from among other Adobe apps on a laptop screen.

Adobe Photoshop is full of advanced editing tools that let you do everything from change the color of an object to remove the background from an image, but the seemingly humble crop tool is among the most important.

Photoshop offers a couple of ways to crop an image, but the crop tool offers more control, with options to straighten, set a specific aspect ratio, correct perspective distortion, and even fill in missing areas using artificial intelligence. Here's how to get the most out of this simple yet powerful tool in the world's favorite photo-editing program.
Cropping an image in Photoshop

Read more
How much is Adobe Photoshop?

how much adobe photoshop

A once simple question has grown to include multiple answers after Adobe has switched to a subscription-style service. After the launch of Photoshop CC in 2013, Adobe no longer offers a one-time purchase option for its popular photo editing software. Let’s take a look at the different options you have for obtaining Photoshop, and what other options you have if subscription services aren’t your thing.
Signing up for Adobe Creative Cloud

The only way to obtain the latest version of Photoshop is to sign up for Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription. This service provides creative tools, such as Photoshop and other popular Adobe options, including Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, Premiere Pro, Dreamweaver, and more. Depending on the package you select, and whether you are an individual, a business, or a student, there are a few subscription options available.

Read more