Photoshop tutorial: Change colours in a photo to match 2017’s visual trends in Photoshop

Create a brilliant image with bold, contrasting colours from a model photo shot against a white background.


In this Photoshop tutorial, Tigz Rice shows how to create an image in this style from a photo shot against a white background – you could use one of your own or one from a stock site such as iStock, Shutterstock or DepositPhotos. Check out our list of where to find free images. It’s best if each of the model's clothing and accessories are simply coloured, as our model Marnie’s are here.

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One of 2017’s big visual trends is bold use of contrasting colours. Called ‘Colour Surge’ in Getty’s trend report, this uses blocks of colour that stand out against each other without clashing or overwhelming the viewer. For more on what’s hot for year ahead, read our guide to 2017’s Visual Trends: Colour, design, branding and photography.

Tigz shows you how to extract the photo to change the background, how to choose the right colour to contrast with our model’s outfit, and how to change the colours of individual elements for a more harmonious composition.

STEP 1

Open your chosen image in Photoshop. First we need to separate Marnie from her background so we can flatten it and change the colour to contrast with her dress. Make a rough selection of the background using the Quick Selection tool (W).

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For easier refinement of the mask, we’ll need to invert the selection to include Marnie instead, so press Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I.


STEP 2

Click on Select and Mask in the Options bar. First, you will want to choose your view mode in the Properties panel.

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From the View dropdown menu, choose On White. Set the Opacity to 100% so it’s easier to see what has been selected.

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STEP 3

If there are any areas of your image not selected that should be, use the Quick Selection Tool to paint them in.

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STEP 4

Next, we need to clean up the edges of our selection. Select the Refine Edge Brush and brush over the edges of the hair to include any stray strands of hair that were missing from the original selection. Don’t forget to do the rest of the edges as well.

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STEP 5

Turn on Smart Radius in Edge Detection. This will help bring in some of the finer details, especially in the hair. The Radius you use will vary depending on your image – I used a 5px Radius.

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STEP 6

Use the Global Refinements sliders to fine-tune your selection. I’ve not needed any for this image, but you may find Shift Edge and Contrast help the make the hair look more defined and realistic.

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STEP 7

When you’re happy with your selection, click on the dropdown menu in Output settings and choose Selection. Then, press OK to confirm.

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STEP 8

Back in the main Photoshop window, click on the New Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Solid Colour. For now, set this to white – we will be changing the colour later once we’ve built a colour scheme.

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Pressing OK will confirm the new layer, which should now have the mask applied. Don’t forget to invert the mask again by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + I.

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STEP 9

Now that we have our background masked, let’s decide on a colour for it. For this, we will be using the Adobe Color Themes panel. You can find this by going to Window > Extensions > Adobe Color Themes.

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Here you can see a selection of colour schemes made by other users that you can use in your own work, but for now go ahead and click on the Create tab.


STEP 10

We’ll be using Marnie’s dress as the base colour for our colour theory. With the Brush tool selected, hold down the Alt key and click on the hair to make it our active colour. Then, in the Color Themes Panel, click on the middle icon beneath the colour wheel to set the selected colour to be the active colour.

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STEP 11

Next, click on the drop down menu at the top of the Color Themes panel and choose Triad. Rather than directly contrasting complementary colours, this should give us a selection of two evenly spaced colour suggestions from the colour wheel that will sit well with the blue of Marnie’s dress.

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STEP 12

Now that we’ve got our triad colours for this image, go ahead and click on your favourite swatch and click on the Set Active Color icon to bring the colour into our normal swatches panel ready to use.

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STEP 13

Double click on the Solid Color layer to bring up the Colour Picker dialogue box and, with the eyedropper cursor, click on our active swatch in the main Photoshop Window. Once this is done, press OK to confirm.

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STEP 14

At the moment, this is a really intense, flat colour. Let’s bring it back a little by changing the layer Blending Mode to Color - which will also allow the original shadows from the white background to pop through.

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STEP 15

Going further, you could also repeat the above with accents in a third colour from your triad colour scheme. Here I’ve brought in the red as an accent, using Hue as the layer blending mode to turn it into a softer, peachy tone.

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