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SLP Curriculum Guide #25: Retouch - Color Replacers

This series of guides will explore the Photo Enhancement tools or the 'Retouch' Tools. Because these tools are like brushes (brush tips) one can retouch just small areas of a photograph. For the most part the Tools Tool Palette for each Retouch Tool has similar options, so learning to use these options will provide one with great skills to enhance photographs.

There are two brushes that allow one to replace or add colors to a photograph or image. One is the 'Color Replacer' which changes a selected color in the photograph to a new color in the Materials Palette. The other is the 'Change to Target' which paints a selected color in the Materials Palette to the photograph or image.

Color Replacer

The Color Replacer will change one color for a new one selected in the Materials Palette. This brush tends to work best when the color to be replaced is fairly solid (similar) rather than textured or varied, such as a gradient.
  1. First, in the Materials Palette, select the Color to Replace.
    • Click on either the Background Color Box.
    • In the Master Picture move mouse to the color to select and click to set that color.
  2. You have two choices in the way the color is replaced.
    • (1) Select a Brush and set its various options. Then paint over the area you want changed.
    • (2) At the Far Right of the Tools Palette click the icon "Replace all Pixels" (Run mouse over it to pop up the text for it.) Click on the Icon to change all pixels to the new color.
  3. If the color to be changed is somewhat varied one may need to repeat the action (Select the color in the master and again either paint or click the icon.)
  4. Experimentation is useful (use the undo of Ctrl+Z as needed) to determine the best values in the Tool Options Palette.
  5. Generally, hardness set to about 50% and opacity to about 80% is useful. Also setting the tolerance value between 10% and 40% helps to fill more of the color to change.

Change to Target

The Color to Target Brush is a very useful tool to master as it will change colors on the master photograph to new colors preserving the gradations of colors (shadowing) on the master. This tool's options need to be explored as well as exploring the color to use in the Materials Palette as different lightness/darkness of the new color paints a bit differently on different master photographs. However, time spent exploring the various options and colors and ways to paint is well worth the time and energy.

Often using this Brush is used to paint colors onto a black/white photograph to accentuate an area or to create a very interesting result of color on black and white photographs. The following two tutorials will detail the steps. The steps themselves can be applied to any version of PSP. Adding Color Accents to a B/W Photograph and Color Popping in PSP.

  1. In the Materials Palette select the Color to paint to the master. (Often a darker color will paint a lighter hue on the master.)
  2. Select a Brush (Circle or Square) and set its size.
  3. Recommended is to set Hardness to 50% or lower to better blend the edges of the brush.
  4. Experiment with Opacity values. If using an Opacity value of less than 100% uncheck Continuous so that you can repaint over the area to increase the color painted to the master.
  5. The MODE values include:
    • Color: Paints the RGB or Color selected.
    • Hue: Paints a different Hue value over the area on the master but experimentation is needed as not all photographs will reflect this mode well.
    • Lightness: Paints a white value on the Master. Useful to lighten the area and/or to use different types of brushes to accentuate an area (see example).
    • Saturation: Paints a richer color to the area on the mast though not all photographs will reflect his mode well.


One very interesting aspect of these brushes is that one can select any brush tip wanted. Thus if you have a variety of brush tips beyond the standard that come with PSP you have various ways to create some interesting results.

As an example, one could use a Gradient rather than a Solid color to replace a color on the master (see example). One can add interesting features to a photograph (see example). Again, experiment and explore and you will find some very unique results for both enhancing photographs and creating very interesting photographs.

An Example (Click on Thumbnail for full size)


Color Replacer

Using a Gradient
Change to Target

Selecting a Rust Color
Color Replacer

An Enhanced Product
The examples shown are using the two discussed brushes.

In the photograph with the Gradient background, I used the Color Replacer by first using the magic wand to select an area of blue. Because the blue background has actually different hue in various areas, I had to repeat the action of using the Magic Wand to select and area and then clicked the Icon for Replace all Pixels.

In the next example, I used Change to target but first selecting a rust color. This example took some work to get the colors to only be in the clock. I used a small sized brush as well as using the selection tool to isolate the clock from the rest of the photograph in order to paint closely to the edges.

In the final example of enhancements, I used a number of enhancements. I first reduced the picture to a black and white or greyscale photograph and then increased the colors back to 16M colors.

Each of the various enhancements were done on a duplicated layer so that I could return to a previous enhancement and start again. Again I isolated the Clock, Clock face and Clock hands as selections so that I could work on each without affecting the other.

I added a texture to the clock, embossed the clock hands and then used an Inner Bevel to give the hands some dimension. I also ultimately used the Change to Target to color the clock face.

I also used the Change to Target to color the tree leaves on the left, then used the Burn Tool to darken them and then the Sharpen tool to sharpen them.

Finally, after isolating the Clock and the enhanced trees with a selection, I blurred the rest of the background to create an effect of the clock being definitely in the foreground..

In this example, I took the Color Replacer photograph from above and added a special brush tip enhancement using the Change to Target with the Mode set to Lighten. This example illustrates how one can enhance photographs in different ways.


  1. When completing a tutorial or series of tutorials, and having placed them upon your web page, post in the SLP Forum your completed work using this layout:
    • a. Name or Screen Name.
    • b. Web Site URL.
    • c. Version of PSP using.
    • d. List of Tutorials completed.
  2. From exploration of using any of the Retouch Tools on images and/or photographs post some of your results and or comments in response to the exercises.
    • a. Indicate what you did so others can duplicate.
    • b. Indicate what option values.
    • c. Add comments on your results and findings of interest.
    • d. Share your questions and comments in the SLP Forum and your graphic results in the member Gallery SLP Album as well as in the Forum.


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