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How to Use the Color Replacement Tool in Photoshop?

  • Last Updated : 24 Jun, 2021
Geek Week

Adobe Photoshop is a raster-based image editing software. It is developed by Adobe.Inc and available for both macOS and Windows operating systems. You can use Photoshop to create or edit images, posters, banners, logos, invitation cards, and various types of graphic designing work. It provides various tools for designing and editing and the color replacement tool is one of them.

Color Replacement Tool

Color replacement tool, as the name suggests, helps to replace the color of any object or part of the document with another color chosen by the user. It is considered as the fastest way to change the color of any object, but it has one disadvantage too, i.e it is not so accurate as the other methods. But it a very easy method and beginner-friendly. The symbol/icon of the color replacement tool is given below: 

In the tool palate, it presents inside the brush tool. If we right-click on the brush tool icon, we can see four tools:

  • Brush tool  
  • Color replacement tool
  • Pencil tool  
  • Mixer brush tool



Disadvantages of a color replacement tool:

Though it can quickly change the color of the image, but it creates some brightness problems and is not so accurate. The more accurate way used by professionals is by Adjustments -> Hue/Saturation. This makes the changes more accurate and true to the colors. But still, the color replacement tool is highly recommended for beginners and students who have just started learning Photoshop.

How to use the Color Replacement tool?

As discussed earlier, the color replacement tool is the easiest procedure to replace the color of an object with another. Let’s understand the function of this tool with the help of an example:

Below is the picture of a flower with pink petals, now if we want to change the color of the petals to any other color (say Sky Blue). How to do it ??

This can be done using the color replacement tool.  

Step 1: Open the image in Adobe Photoshop.



Step 2: Now we have to select the petals of the flower using any selection tool. Here we are using the Magnetic Lasso Tool. After selecting the petal part we get:

Step 3: Now let’s color select the sky blue color from the swatches and paint our selection with the color using the color replacement tool. You will get results like this:

Therefore, we can very easily change the color of any part of the image using the color replacement tool.

Note: If your Caps lock key is on, the cursor of the color replacement tool can be a plus sign (+). Many students get confused. You can change the cursor back to the normal shape by switching off the cursor again.

Options of Color Replacement Tool

Now, when you click on the color replacement tool icon we can see an option bar with numerous different options.  

We will now understand them all one by one.

1. Brush Size



The first one (i.e left-most) is the brush size in which we can change the size of the brush and the hardness and also the angle. If you click on it, a dialog box will open as given below:

There are options like:

  • Size: To change the size of the brush.
  • Hardness: To change the hardness of the brush.
  • Spacing: If we increase the spacing the brush stroke will not be continuous if will be apart from each other. (Use only when required)
  • Angle: We can change the angle of the brush.
  • Pen Pressure: It can only be seen using a graphics tablet and it is not used in this case.

2. Mode

This is a very important property of the color replacement tool. There are four different types of modes in color replacement tools. 

When you click on the mode option, you will see the different option as below:

  • Color(Default): This the default mode of the color replacement tool. This mode just replaces the color of the selected part of the image with the color that is chosen by the user, just like the example we have seen above in the article.
  • Hue: This mode changes the hue of the selected part of the image.
  • Saturation: This mode can be used to make an image look dull or bright by replacing the color saturation with a less saturated color makes an image look dull and my replacing the color saturation with a high saturated color makes an image look bright.  
  • Luminosity: This mode helps to make an image bright or dull by changing the luminosity(ie. Light) on it. This mode is not preferred to use as most of the time it destroys the image’s quality.

3. Sampling

There are three sampling options available and their names and description are (from the left):

(i) Continuous Sampling: In this sampling option, the color replacement tool continuously samples the color while we paint  



(ii) Once: In this type of sampling option, the color replacement tool samples the color once and replaces the same color wherever it is found with the color chosen by the user.

(iii) Background: In this type of sampling option, the tool replaces the color sampled with the background color.

4. Limits

The next option of color replacement is limits. This option tells the color replacement the limit or the boundary till which it can change the color.

Photoshop has three limits mode:

  • Contiguous: In this limit option, the tool changes the color of only the sampled area pixels where the center of the cursor is and does not change the color of the neighborhood that matches the same color
  • Dis-contiguous: In this type of limit option, the tool changes the color of the surrounding area with matched sampled color till the spread of the cursor boundary.
  • Find edges: In this limit option, the tool automatically finds the edges in the picture and slows down as we approach the edge, and limit the color change to the edges.

5. Anti Alias

The last property of the color replacement tool is anti-alias. Though anti-alias is not a new tool. It can be seen in numerous other tools like erasers, selection tools, etc. Anti-alias in Photoshop enables the smoothing of the edges of the transformed region. By default, anti-alias is turned on. It is also recommended to keep anti-alias turned on to give a perfect change in color of the edges of the image.

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