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Using the Replace Color Command in Adobe Photoshop CS5

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By using the Replace Color command, you can adjust the hue, saturation, or lightness of colors in specific areas of an image using selection and color controls in a dialog. In this excerpt from Photoshop CS5 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide, Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas show you how.

This command works best for recoloring discrete areas that are easy to isolate.

To use the Replace Color command

  1. Optional: For an RGB document that you’re going to send to a commercial printer, choose View > Proof Setup > Working CMYK to view a soft proof of the image in simulated CMYK color.

    Once you’ve made a choice from the Proof Setup submenu, you can toggle the proof on and off while the Replace Color dialog is open by pressing Ctrl-Y/Cmd-Y. Regardless of whether the proof is on or off, the Color and Result swatches in the Replace Color dialog always display in RGB.

  2. Click a layer (not a Smart Object layer) or the Background.
  3. Optional: Create a selection to confine the color replacement to a specific area.A
  4. Choose Image > Adjustments > Replace Color. The Replace Color dialog opens.
  5. In the document, click the color to be replaced. The color you clicked appears in the Color swatch at the top of the dialog.B
  6. Do any of the following:

    To add more color areas to the selection, click the Eyedropper tool eyedropper-tool.jpg in the dialog, then Shift-click or drag in the preview or document window.

    Increase the Fuzziness value to add similar colors to the selection, or reduce it to narrow the range of selected colors.

    Check Localized Color Clusters to limit the selection to similar, contiguous colors. (We sometimes get similar or better results by lowering the Fuzziness value instead.)

  7. If you added colors to the selection that you now want to subtract, with the Eyedropper tool, eyedropper-tool.jpg Alt-click/Option-click or drag in the preview or document window (this is a temporary Subtract from Sample Eyedropper tool).
    • For the preview window, click Selection to view the current selection, or Image to display the entire document. To toggle between the two display modes, press Ctrl/Cmd, then release.
  8. To replace the colors you have selected, do either of the following:

    In the Replacement area, choose replacement Hue, Saturation, and Lightness values (you can use the scrubby sliders). The Result swatch will update as you do this.A Note: A Saturation value greater than +25 may produce a nonprintable color.

    Click the Result swatch, choose a color from the Color Picker, then click OK. The sliders will shift to reflect the values of the new color.

    Note: The Replacement sliders will stay put, even if you click a different area of the image or add to or subtract from the selection.

  9. Click OK.B (For another use of this command, see page 274.)
    • The Replacement sliders won’t change the amount of Black (K) in a color for a CMYK document. That component is established by the CMYK Working Space, which is chosen in Edit > Color Settings.
    • To restore the original dialog settings, hold down Alt/Option and click Reset (Cancel becomes Reset).
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