Picture this scene: you are out and about with your kids. The perfect photo opportunity presents itself. You have your camera with you to capture it all. But, UGH!  What are they wearing?!

Perhaps it is a neon orange t-shirt or maybe your child is like mine and her favorite color is beige. Color can really make or break a photo! A pleasing color combination will elevate a photo from ‘meh’ to ‘yaaassss!’

Enter color replacement.

It may sound like a complicated editing trick, but it’s actually quite simple. I’m sharing two highly effective ways to replace a color in an image. Whether you use Lightroom or Photoshop, I’ve got you covered.

How to replace color in Lightroom

I really love the following image (shot at 1/2000 F2.2 ISO 100…any guesses to where we are?!). However, I’d like to change my daughters shirt to a primary color. While her peach shirt is okay, a color to compliment the red and blue already in the image would be better.

First go to the Develop module. Grab the adjustment brush from the Basic panel and choose saturation as your effect. Paint all over the area that you want to change with a medium feather at 100% flow. You can check the “auto mask” box to help you stay in the lines, if you like. I prefer to wing it!

Once you have fully “painted” in the area you wish to affect, bring your saturation slider down to -100.  Now the area you painted will not have any color. You will be able to see if you missed any areas and clean those up.

PRO TIP: You can use the Alt or Option button to turn your adjustment brush into an erase brush. This can help clean up any messy work (no judgment!). Be sure to zoom in on your image to check those small areas around the edges or near the hair! 

Next, click on the rectangular box labeled “Color” and choose the new color. For this image, I chose a nice bright yellow.  After you have chosen your color you can adjust the exposure, contrast, et cetera to your liking.

The best part? If you change your mind, just activate your selection again and pick a new color and add new adjustments!  So simple, so fun!

As you can see, this image is much improved by this simple change.  And when done correctly, no one will know you used a little Lightroom magic!  Now, you can feel free to  snap away in the Target parking lot without having to run in the store to buy the kids a new shirt!

Follow along with my Lightroom editing steps in this video!

How to replace color in Photoshop

There are countless ways to change colors in Photoshop. Today I am going to show you one that I think is the easiest and most effective.

I chose to work on this image of my daughter commanding an army of chickens, concentrating on her blue jacket.

First, open your image in Photoshop and duplicate the background layer (Command or Control + J).

Next, go to Image —> Adjustments —> Replace Color.

A box will pop up and you can use the dropper tool (it looks like a little eye dropper) to choose the color you want to change.

Then, use the dropper+ (it’s the dropper with the plus sign next to it) to add more of that color to your selection.  You can also change the fuzziness slider to change the amount of color it effects.

Once you have your selection made, you can move the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness sliders to change the color just the way you want it.

Don’t worry if this affects more of the image than you expect. Only pay attention to the area your wanting to work on. We will fix the rest soon!

When you find that perfect color, press OK. Now, add a layer mask to that layer and invert it (command + I).  Everything should look like it did when you started.

Grab a soft paint brush at 100% opacity on white. Paint in the area you are trying to change ( I painted on her jacket). This is the most involved part of the process, but a little patience goes a long way. If you make a mistake, switch to a black paintbrush and clean it up. That’s the joy of working with Layer masks!

And Viola!  You don’t need to invest in costly clothing, all you need is Photoshop! This method could have been used to change the colors of any part of these images.  Who doesn’t want to see blue trees, red grass or purple chickens?!

Now go forth, be creative, play, and have fun!

Follow along with my Photoshop editing steps in this video!