How To Select by Color in Photoshop

Photoshop is packed with tools that allow you to play with color in your projects. If you’re unhappy with how a color has turned out, or a particular color doesn’t fit the picture’s aesthetics, you can easily get rid of it. Keep reading to learn how to select a color in Photoshop and seamlessly swap it out for a better option.

How To Select by Color in Photoshop

How to Select by Color and Change It in Photoshop on a PC

Working in Photoshop on a PC opens up a world of possibilities for editing your picture. Among the many options, there are a few tools at your disposal you can use to select a color and change it to match your artistic vision.

How to Select by Color and Change It Using the Color Range Option

The Color Range is probably the most obvious choice when it comes to selecting and changing colors in Photoshop. This simple tool will help you accomplish your goal quickly and hassle-free.

  1. Navigate to the “Layers” panel on the right side of your screen.
  2. Click on the “New Layer” button in the bottom-right corner.
  3. Go to the “Select” tab at the top of your screen.
  4. Select the “Color Range” option.
  5. In the “Color Range” panel, drag the “Fuzziness” slider to 0.
  6. Set the “Range” slider to 100%.
  7. Click on the middle “Eyedropper” icon with a “plus” sign on it.
  8. Trace the color you want to change by left-clicking your mouse and dragging it as needed.

Once you’re happy with the selection, you can change the color by following these steps.

  1. Go to the “Layer” tab at the top of your screen.
  2. Select the “New Adjustment Layer” option.
  3. Click on the “Hue/Saturation” option.
  4. Tap “OK.”
  5. Use the “Hue” slider to change the selected color accordingly.
  6. Optionally, drag the “Saturation” and “Lightness” sliders to make further adjustments.

The Color Range option will work perfectly for simpler projects or when you’re in a hurry. However, this option might not be the best route if the pixels you want to change aren’t adjacent in the picture. If that’s the case, we suggest using the Magic Wand tool.

How to Select by Color and Change It Using the Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand tool is ideal for more intricate work, allowing you to produce professional-looking results. It might be a bit more time-consuming than the previous tool, but the results are well worth it.

  1. Navigate to the “Tools” panel on the left side of the screen.
  2. Go to the “Quick Selection Tool” icon (a brush next to a dotted circle).
  3. Select the “Magic Wand Tool” from the fly-out menu.
  4. Disable the “Contiguous” checkbox from the top menu.
  5. Click on the desired color.

The Magic Wand tool will now select all the pixels similar to the ones you clicked on. The range of selection depends on the tolerance level.

By default, the tolerance level is set to 32. This means that the Magic Wand tool will select a range of 32 levels brighter and 32 levels darker than the pixel you’ve selected.

Increasing the tolerance level will result in more color pixels being included, producing a more uniform selection. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the tolerance level you should use. The best way is to experiment with different values until you find the number that best works for your picture. Simply type a value in the Tolerance field at the top and see if that value works. You can go as high as 255.

Sometimes the color you want to select is present in the form of a gradient. As a result, selecting the color will only work for the pixels closest to the one you’ve clicked on. This time, increasing the tolerance level may lead to selecting a wider range of pixels than intended.

Instead, you can do the following.

  1. Hold down the “Shift” key to switch to the “Add to Selection” tool.
  2. Click on the areas you want to include in the selection.

If you notice the tool has selected areas you didn’t want to include, you can easily remove them. Just hold down the Option key on Mac or the Alt key on Windows and click on the area you want to subtract from the selection.

Once you’re satisfied with the color selection, it’s time to change it to a color of your choice.

  1. Go to the “Layers” panel on the right side of the screen.
  2. Click on the “New Fill or Adjustment Layer” icon in the bottom-right corner.
  3. Select the “Hue/Saturation” option.
  4. Tap the “Properties” panel.

Once you’re in the Properties panel, you can change the selected color in several ways.

  • Drag the “Hue” slider to change the color completely.
  • Adjust the “Saturation” slider to change the color’s intensity.
  • Play with the “Lightness” slider to make the color darker or lighter.

How to Select by Color and Change It in Photoshop on an iPad

The Photoshop app for iPad doesn’t have all the selection tools available on the PC version of this popular software. Still, there is an excellent tool you can use to select a color and change it.

To get started, follow these steps to reveal layers in your picture.

  1. Tap the “Detailed View” icon in the upper-right corner of your screen.
  2. Press the “Layer Properties” icon right below the “Detailed View” icon.
  3. If necessary, double-tap the percentage shown in the field on the top of your screen to make your picture fully visible.

Now you’re ready to get down to work. To make a selection in Photoshop on an iPad, do the following.

  1. Double-tap on the “Selection Tools” icon (a brush next to a dotted line) on the left panel to display all the tools.
  2. Select the “Quick Select Tool” option.
  3. Press the “Add to Selection” tool at the top of the mini “Properties” panel next to the main panel on the left.
  4. Using the selection tool, sample different values of the color you want to change.
  5. Navigate to the “Selection Tool” action bar at the bottom of your screen.
  6. Tap the three-dot icon.
  7. Choose the “Select Similar” option.

This option will automatically select all the similar shades of color to the one you initially selected. There’s nothing left to do but change the selected color to a better-suited one.

  1. Tap the “Add” clipped adjustment button within the “Layer Properties” panel on the right.
  2. Select the “Hue/Saturation” option.
  3. Navigate to the “Hue/Saturation” section.

Now you can change the selected color in three ways.

  • Adjust the “Hue” slider to completely change the selected color.
  • Use the “Saturation” slider to change the color’s intensity.
  • Drag the “Lightness” slider to make the color lighter or darker.

How to Select Transparent Color in Photoshop

While most Photoshop users are looking for a way to make a background color in their picture transparent, you might have different plans. Learning how to select a transparent color is the stepping-stone for all the other options Photoshop provides. Here’s what to do.

  1. Click on the “Select” tab at the top menu.
  2. Go down to the “Load Selection” option.
  3. Navigate to “Layer 0 Transparency.”
  4. Enable the “Invert” checkbox.

All the transparent areas of your picture will now be selected and ready for your changes.

Tell Stories With Color

Color is a crucial element in visual storytelling, as it can be used to effortlessly convey different emotions. If one color is off, it can mess up the entire artistic concept of the picture. Photoshop makes it easy to select and change the misbehaving color, allowing you to get just the results you want.

Have you ever tried changing color in Photoshop? What method did you use? Let us know in the comments section below.

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