Using the Color Replacement Tool

Last week we learned how to Recolor Semi-Transparent Images using a Color Fill Adjustment Layer. This method helps you easily customize the beautiful blendable elements, stamps, and accents that come in some collections, allowing you to stretch your digi-stash.

Today let’s take a look at another way to recolor, using the Color Replacement Tool.   This tool allows you to replace the original color of an image with the foreground color of your choice.  The tool preserves the tonality of the image, keeping the lovely shadows and highlights that might be present.

This is a word art graphic from Metamorphosis. Let’s change the aqua text to purple.

Here’s how:  (Screen shots using Photoshop CC 2017. This technique works the same in Photoshop Elements; PSE screenshot at the end of this tutorial.)

  1. Select the Color Replacement Tool. It is nested with the Brush tool.  (Image 1 below).
  2. In the top Options bar, you have several options:
    • Use the drop-down arrow next to the Brush Picker and choose the type of brush you want. For this image, I will choose a small, round, hard-edged brush.
    • Mode: “Color” is the default and usually works the best, but you have the options of Hue, Saturation, and luminosity also. Experiment as you like.
    • Brush Sampling: Choose either “Continuous” (2 eyedropper icon: allows you to drag color); or “Once” (eye dropper icon with a circle-plus at the end of it: allows you to click to add color). Both work equally well.
    • Limits: Set to Contiguous
    • Tolerance: Let’s start at 75%.
    • Choose Anti-alias
  3. Place the Color Replacement Brush over your image. You will see a small crosshair in the middle of your brush.  In Image 2 below, I have enlarged my brush so you can see the crosshair. The brush I am using is much smaller than what is shown here. (Image 3).
  4. Place the crosshair over the color you want to replace; click and drag. Be sure to keep the crosshair on the color you want to replace. If the crosshair touches any other area, the replacement color will affect that area also.
  5. In Image 4 below, which is shown at 450%,  you can see the purple was not completely replaced.
  6. Let’s take the tolerance up to 100% and color the “h.”  With the higher tolerance level, we are now targeting all of the shades of the aqua, giving us complete coverage. (Image 5).

There might be times with a lower tolerance might provide an interesting effect, but if you want complete coverage, taking the tolerance to 100% is best.

Image 6 provides a screenshot for Photoshop Elements users.

Image 1 Color Replacement Tool


Image 2: Note the crosshair in the center of the Color Replacement Brush
Image 3: Resize your brush
Image 4: 75% Tolerance does not replace the entire aqua color
Image 5: With a 100% tolerance, the aqua color in the “h” is completely replaced with purple.
Image 6: Photoshop Elements Screen Shot

And here is the final result:

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful!

If you would like to download a PDF of this tutorial, you may do so here: Using the Color Replacement Tool

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Comments (2)

  1. Peggy S

    This is one of my favorite tools for recoloring in a complex image. Thanks for the tutorial!

    August 5, 2017 at 11:35 am
  2. Another PHENOM tutorial, Karen. Thank you so much for helping us dig into this feature.

    August 5, 2017 at 1:00 pm
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