Have you ever wondered how websites that sell clothing and others that sell cars change the colors of whatever it is they’re selling? You know what I’m referring to here. Pretend you’re looking at a Honda Civic on the Honda website and the default color is gray. Below the photo of the car are alternative colors. Click the small square and the same exact car changes color. Neat, huh?
Years ago, before I got into all this design and photography stuff, I wondered how the vehicle manufacturers pulled this little trick off. I thought, “Well, they must roll a differently colored car into the studio and take new photos of it.” That idea never squared with me because, I’m telling you, it was the same exact car – just in different colors. I was dumbfounded.
Now that I’m much more immersed in design and Photoshop and all that goes along with that, I know that, yes, it was the same car or the same sweater or the same pair of pants every time. The company that was selling them used some fancy software to change the colors. I’m sure they have their methods that I’ll never truly know, but I can tell you that we can do something very similar in Adobe Photoshop.
In today’s post, I’d like to introduce you to a blending mode that hardly anyone ever uses. It’s the Hue blending mode and when it comes to changing the color of an object, it comes in extremely handy. In the post below, I’ll select one of the colored pencils in the demo image and then I’ll apply an entirely different color to it. I think you’ll be impressed with the results. You’ll never even know that the original color was, well, the original color.
What Does the Hue Blending Mode Do?
I’ve talked a lot about blending modes on this website, so I can say that I’m rather comfortable with them. This one though, as I admitted above, hardly gets any use. Whether that’s because I don’t change colors of objects very much or it’s because I forget about it, I’m not sure. Perhaps after today’s post, I’ll give it some more love.
So, what exactly does the Hue blending mode do? Well, it allows a color to overlay an object, while maintaining the luminance and saturation of the object’s base color. Instead of simply “colorizing” the base color in a blunt and primitive way, it sort of allows the new color to “absorb” into the underlying one in a much more natural way.
Making a Selection
To start things off, I’ll use the Quick Selection Tool from the left toolbar to select the yellow pencil.
Now, just to let you know, I’m making this rough selection because it’s the easiest way to do this. I could just as easily paint over the yellow pencil with a color using the Brush Tool and maybe I’ll even clean things up later on using this method. But for right now, to give you the general idea of how to do things, I’ll make a selection.
After I make the selection, I’ll head down to the bottom of the Layers panel and click the Create a New Layer button. This will create a new layer while keeping the selection live. With the new layer active in the Layers panel and the Quick Selection Tool still active as well, I’ll right-click inside of the selection. This will open a menu. I’ll choose the Fill option.
Filling the Selection with Color
When the Fill dialog box appears, I’ll choose the Color option from the drop-down. This will make the Color Picker appear, where I’ll choose my new color.
When I’m finished, I’ll click the OK button for both the Color Picker as well as the Fill dialog. Let’s see what things look like now.
Ah, now we have a beautiful solid purple color. Just as I wanted.
Applying the Hue Blending Mode
At this point, since I have a solid color that’s shaped like a pencil in its own layer in the Layers panel, all I need to do is change the blending mode for that layer. I’ll head to the blending mode drop-down in the Layers panel and I’ll choose the Hue option.
Let’s see what that accomplished.
As you can see, the new color has changed the pencil from yellow to purple. As a reminder, the luminance and saturation are maintained from the original color, so that’s why this purple is so light. To give you a better idea of how this works, I’ll recolor a few more pencils quickly by following the same exact steps as I laid out above.
As you can see, we went from green, yellow, orange to blue, purple, green. That’s pretty cool and that’s all there is to it. Again, to clean the edges up, you can easily do that with the Brush Tool set to the original color. Simply paint the edges until they blend in with their surroundings well.
I hope I clearly explained how to colorize objects using Adobe Photoshop and the Hue blending mode. If you have any questions regarding this post, please ask in the comment section down below or in the Adobe Photoshop user’s forum. Thanks for reading!