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Using the Color Replacement Tool in Adobe Photoshop CS5

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In this excerpt from Photoshop CS5 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide, Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas show you how to use the Color Replacement tool.

Using the Color Replacement tool

The Color Replacement tool lets you change color, hue, saturation, and luminosity values, except instead of using a dialog as you do with Replace Color, you apply changes manually with a brush. You can also specify mode, sampling, limits, and tolerance parameters for the tool. And unlike the Brush tool, which applies flat colors, the Color Replacement tool tries to preserve the original texture as it changes colors. This tool, like the Replace Color and Match Color commands, is especially useful to advertising and catalog designers.

To use the Color Replacement tool

  1. Open an RGB image.
  2. Choose the Color Replacement tool color-replace-tool.jpg (B or Shift-B).
  3. To choose a replacement color, do either of the following:

    Choose a Foreground color from the Color or Swatches panel, or sample a Foreground color by Alt/Option clicking in the document.

    If you’re going to choose Background Swatch as the Sampling option in step 5, choose a Background color now.

  4. If the color you chose isn’t on the Swatches panel,swatches-panel-icon.jpg add it to the panel by clicking the New Swatch of Foreground Color button.new-layer-button.jpg
  5. From the Options bar, choose parameters for the tool:A

    From the Brush Preset picker, choose a high Hardness value and a low Spacing value.

    To control which color characteristics the tool applies to the image, choose a Mode of Hue, Saturation, Color, or Luminosity. We’ve been pleased with the results we’ve gotten with Color mode.

    Click a Sampling button: Continuous sampling-continuous-icon.jpg to apply the current Foreground color to all pixels the brush passes over (we prefer this option because it lets us replace both light and dark colors); or Once color-replace-sample.jpg to sample the first pixel the brush crosshairs click on and apply the Foreground color only to pixels that match that initial sampled color (since this option confines the sampling to just one color, if you need to replace, say, different shades of a particular color, you would have to sample each one separately); or Background Swatch sampling-background.jpg to replace only colors that match or are similar to the current Background color.

    From the Limits menu, choose Discontiguous to recolor only pixels under the pointer; or Contiguous to recolor pixels under the pointer plus adjacent pixels; or Find Edges (our favorite option) to recolor pixels under the pointer while keeping the color replacement within discrete shapes. Note: Remember that in addition to the Limits choice, the tool is also controlled by the current Sampling and Tolerance choices.

    Choose a Tolerance value (1–100%) for the range of colors to be recolored. A high Tolerance value permits a wide range of colors to be recolored; a low value allows only pixels that closely match the sampled color to be recolored.

    Optional: Check Anti-alias for smoother transitions between the original and replacement colors.

    If you’re using a stylus and tablet, click the Tablet Pressure Controls Size tablet-pressure-size_1.jpg button and from the Size menu on the Brush Preset picker, choose Pen Pressure or Stylus Wheel.star.jpg

  6. Click a layer, adjust the brush diameter by pressing [ or ], then drag across the areas to be recolored (AD, next page). Only pixels that fall within the chosen Mode, Sampling, Limits, and Tolerance parameters will be recolored.
    • For precise control when using the Color Replacement tool, you can change Options bar settings or brush diameter between strokes.
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