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How to Change Black to Any Other Color in Photoshop

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Changing black to any other color in Photoshop can be tricky. Unlike other colors, using a single Hue/Saturation adjustment layer does not work for black because it can’t lighten the shade. Therefore, you need to use a combination of multiple adjustments like Curves, Levels, and more, depending on the complexity of the subject.


So, here’s how to change black into any other color in Adobe Photoshop…

How to Change Black to Other Colors in Photoshop

The steps for changing black to any other color can vary tremendously depending on the subject. For instance, changing black to a darker shade is quicker, whereas you’ll require additional tweaks like the Curves layer for lighter shades.

So, let’s start with a simple example to understand how the process works. Later, we will work on fine-tuning the details.

  1. First, import your image into Photoshop.
  2. Now, create a selection of the dress using the Quick Selection Tool or Magic Wand Tool.
  3. Press Select and Mask from the top of your screen and fine-tune the selection.
  4. Select Output to New Layer with Layer Mask and hit OK.
  5. Now, press Ctrl/Cmnd + G to create a new group.
  6. Hold the Alt key and drag your selection mask onto the group. It will create a copy of the mask that will apply to the whole group.
  7. Now, create a Levels adjustment layer inside the group. It will control the brightness of your selection. There are five pointers you can tweak in the Levels adjustment layer.
  8. The three just below the histogram show your image’s distribution of dark and bright pixels. Drag the left one to the right to minimize the dark pixels; you can leave the right one for now.
  9. The two pointers below are for output levels that control how dark your darkest pixel will be and vice versa. Drag the left pointer sightly to the right to get a faded dress color. The faded shade will help you retain the details once you change the color.
  10. Now, create a Solid Color layer and pick a color of your choice. Red, for example.
  11. Change the blending mode to Color from the drop-down options in your layers panel.
  12. You should be ready to export the image if you pick a proper color. Otherwise, tweak the Levels values to get a natural shade for your dress.


That’s all. You now have a template to change the color of your black dress to any other shade you want. You can quickly change the color by selecting a new one using the solid color layer. However, there is a catch. Using this technique, it can be challenging to change black to lighter colors like yellow or peach.

How to Change Black to Lighter Colors in Photoshop

The above-mentioned technique is not handy when applying it for lighter shades. Therefore, you must play with curves to make the extreme black brighter without giving up on the details. You can change your black dress to yellow, peach, or even white using this technique.

  1. Import your photo into Photoshop.
  2. Now, create your dress selection using the Pen tool for a precise outline.
  3. Right-click on your mouse and click Make Selection.
  4. Now, click on the Mask option in the layer panel to make a vector mask out of your selection.
  5. Now, press Ctrl/Cmnd + G to create a new group.
  6. Hold the Alt key and drag your selection mask onto the group. It will create a copy of the mask that will apply to the whole group.
  7. Now, create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation slider all the way to the left. It will remove any noise from the image that might cause trouble.
  8. Next, create a Curves adjustment layer, hold the Alt key, and slightly slide the right pointer towards the left until you see minor details.
  9. Repeat the Curves layer process to get a brighter tone on your dress.
  10. Now, create another Curves adjustment layer (name it Shadows) and move the line slightly upward while in RGB mode to brighten the shadows. This is essential since details are usually lost in the shadows.
  11. Double-click the Shadows layer on the right side to open Layer Style.
  12. Now, hold the Alt key and bring the white pointer all the way towards the left for the Underlying layer under the Blend if options and hit OK. It should split the pointer into two parts and blend the color equally in all areas.
  13. Lastly, create a Solid Color layer and choose a bright color (such as yellow) and change the Blending mode to Color.


Make some final tweaks if required in the Curves adjustment layers, and you are good to go. Now, you can convert your dress to any color you want. Remember, you can pick any hue for the black dress. However, to make it realistic, you’ll have to tweak the Curves and Hue Saturation settings. You can make the dress utterly white without losing any details using this method.

Just bear in mind that when using the curves to change the brightness/contrast of shadows and highlights, you have to increase the contrast when dealing with clothes. You do this by dragging the curve up to the left side. On the contrary, you can decrease the contrast by dragging the curve down if you are dealing with a glossy material.

Here’s how to use the Curves tool in Photoshop.

In both methods outlined above, you only have to use a single mask on the group. You can delete the additional layers’ masks to keep your file size in check. Read our detailed guide on how to use layers and masks in Photoshop to get a better idea.

Important Points to Remember When Changing Black to Another Color in Photoshop

It can be troublesome for new users to change black to a different color in Photoshop. Since it is an absence of colors, we have to make the object brighter and apply a second layer to induce the color in the equation. It can also be impossible to retain the details in some cases.

For instance, if you are changing a black dress to a lighter shade, there is a high chance you’ll see pixelated parts in the shadows. There is no escaping this unless you are working with RAW images. It happens because the shadows formed by creases on clothes can be easily lost due to the dark color. In such cases, applying an additional filter like a gradient or grunge/texture on top of your final edit is the best way to camouflage the pixelated area.

You Can Now Change Black to Any Other Color in Photoshop Without Breaking Sweat

In this article, we showed you two methods of changing black to another color. The first method works best when changing the subject to darker shades. The second method works best when changing the subject to lighter shades.

It’s worth mentioning that dealing with the color black can be trickier than it appears depending on the subject of the photo, so you should tweak the adjustment layers for each color to make your edit look more natural.

Read the full article here

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