Change the colour of part of an image using layer masks.

by hannah 31,116 views12

For this tutorial I am going to use an image from Wikimedia commons by Sebastianjude.

Step 1.
Open your image in Photoshop.

Original image
Original image

Step 2.
Duplicate the layer

Duplicate the layer
Duplicate the layer

Step 3.
Turn off the original picture layer by pressing the eye icon for that layer in the layers palette.

Turn off original layer
Turn off original layer

Step 4.
Select the duplicate layer and click the icon at the bottom of the layers palette to add a layer mask.

Add a layer mask
Add a layer mask

Step 5.
With the layer mask selected, choose the brush tool. If you have not used a layer mask before you will notice that the colour palette has changed to white and black. Black will hide the image and white will bring it back /reveal the image.

Select the layer mask in the layers palette
Select the layer mask in the layers palette

Step 6.
Use the paintbrush with black selected to hide all parts of the image except for the parts where you want to change the colour.

Brush tool
Brush tool

 

Colour palette - select the arrows to swap the colours round
Colour palette – select the arrows to swap the colours round
Start to hide areas of the image except for the areas you want to change colour
Start to hide areas of the image except for the areas you want to change colour
Now just showing areas that will change colour
Now just showing areas that will change colour

Step 7.
Once you are left with just the part you want to change colour. Turn the other layer back on.

turn original layer back on
turn original layer back on

Step 8.
Select the layer with the layer mask and choose Image > Adjustments > Hue & Saturation (You must select the layer on the left of the layers palette and not the layer mask this time). Play around with the colours until you are happy with the look of the image.

Choose Image > Adjustments > Hue & Saturation
Choose Image > Adjustments > Hue & Saturation

Step 9.
If you find a bit you’ve missed you can click on the layers mask in the layers palette and continue to use the airbrush and black to hide more of the top image. Likewise if you what to reveal more of the top image you can do this by using the brush and the white colour to bring the image back.

area not hidden properly
area not hidden properly
After using the layer mask & brush tool again
After using the layer mask & brush tool again

Step 9.
Here is my final image, alongside the original.

Original & Image with colour change
Original & Image with colour change

 

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Comments (12)

  1. Thanks for the tutorial, so very nice effect, interesting results.

  2. Thank you for your comments Mununa, much appreciated 🙂

  3. Hi Hannah,
    I am trying to colourize a car. It has many reflections and varying intensities of colour.

    My attempts to use your method result in solid colour, not gradations over the areas painted. I therefore loose perspective and shape.
    What am I doing wrong?
    Thanks for this.

    Roger

  4. Hi Roger,
    I have tried to replicate this issue myself and haven’t been able to re-create it. All I can say is to try the tutorial again just incase you missed one of the steps. If anyone else can spot the issue here please post an answer. Thanks

  5. Hannah,
    Solution to the problem is
    1) Open the image
    2) Click Adjustment layer (half black half white icon) under layer palette
    3) Select “solid color”
    4) Add a mask by clicking on square with circle inside icon under layer
    5) Click on thumbnail of the adjustment layer (not the mask)
    6) Pick the color you want to replace with
    7) Click on thumbnail of the mask, and fill the mask with black.
    8) Select brush tool and make sure the foreground is white
    9) Start painting the subject that you want to change color
    10) If make a mistake, just change colour of brush to black and paint over to restore.

    Hope that help!
    Raymond Chua from Singapore

  6. Hannah, please use this version.
    (missed out one step 4)
    Solution to the problem is
    1) Open the image
    2) Click Adjustment layer (half black half white icon) under layer palette
    3) Select “solid color”
    4) Click the down arrow under layer and select blend mode to “color”
    5) Add a mask by clicking on square with circle inside icon under layer
    6) Click on thumbnail of the adjustment layer (not the mask)
    7) Pick the color you want to replace with
    8) Click on thumbnail of the mask, and fill the mask with lack.
    9) Select brush tool and make sure the foreground is white
    10) Start painting the subject that you want to change color
    11) If make a mistake, just change colour of brush to black and paint over to restore.

    Hope that help!
    Raymond Chua from Singapore

  7. Thanks hannah for nice post

  8. Awesome! Thank you so much!

  9. Works great! The simplest layer mask tutorial I’ve seen.

  10. Excellent Hannah thanks!

  11. I used to use a simpler method just using the magic wand – select the area then shift key and use the magic wand to expand until ive got the area i want then just use the hue and saturation but your method is more in depth – thanks its always a good day when ive learned something new!

  12. Thanks Gary, yes I have also used that method before. I think whichever method you use it is good to try and do it via a layer mask as if you ever want to go back and edit anything you can. Thanks for you’re comments.

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