How to Change the Color of Overlays in Photoshop

how to color overlay in photoshop

How to Color an Overlay in Photoshop

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Let's talk a little about how overlays are used.  Overlays can be used in Photoshop to add a special text or an ornamental picture to your image and while they are super easy to apply and re-size to suit your vision, we want to show you how to take it a step further and change the color of your overlay for a custom look!

We know you are excited to start customizing and coloring your overlays so let's jump right in and get started.

However, before I show you how to change an overlay color, I will briefly review how to apply an overlay to your image in Photoshop:

Holiday Bokeh Overlays

Applying An Overlay in Photoshop

To apply an overlay in Photoshop, first make sure the image you wish to apply the overlay to is open.  You will need to place the overlay on top of your image. To do this navigate to your top menu bar and select File>Place.

Next, navigate to where you have your overlay saved and select the overlay you want to use.  Once you have selected your overlay, you will automatically have the ability to move it around within your image without having to select your Move Tool from the Tools Panel.

Hit Enter when you're happy with where you've placed the overlay and voila you are done placing your overlay!

how to add color in photoshop

If you want to move your overlay again because let's face it...sometimes it's just hard to make up our minds, just select the Move Tool from the Tools Panel and move the overlay to where you think it would look best.

To re-size the overlay, use the same Move Tool and click on any of the corners of your overlay while holding the Shift key (this will keep the original proportion of the overlay) and drag inwards to make it smaller or outwards to make it larger.

Color Overlay Photoshop

How to Color an Overlay in Photoshop

OK, now that we have our overlay placed and looking good, let's move onto the fun part...changing the color!

This next step will allow you to change your overlay to virtually ANY color imaginable.  You can even sample from the colors already existing in your image for a more cohesive look!

Keep in mind that technically we will be adding a color and not changing the original color.  To do this, navigate to your top menu bar and select:

Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color

Your Color Picker box will automatically appear and you can click anywhere within the color box to select your desired color.

how to change the color of a layer in photoshop

Note - The color will apply to your entire image at first.  But we will change that with one quick step, so don't worry - this enhancement is on a completely new layer and will not ruin your image in any way, promise!

To apply the color to just the overlay and not the entire image simply navigate to your top menu bar and select:

Layer>Create Clipping Mask

You will notice right away, the color is now only applied to the overlay.  If you decide to change the color again or to match the color with the tones already present in your image, simply double-click on the layer thumbnail.  You will see your Color Picker box appear again and your Color Dropper has already been selected.  Go ahead and click around within the color box to adjust your color. 

You can even click anywhere on your image and get a real time preview of what your overlay will look like with a matching color tone that you click on within the image.  Yes, this is a neat trick and I use it quite often!

If you are more of a visual learner, I've created a short video demonstrating these same steps to change the color of your overlay in Photoshop.

Changing an Overlay Color - Video Tutorial


If you're looking for some other great Photoshop Overlays and Actions that will really make your holiday images POP, make sure to check out our Holiday Bokeh Overlays and Holiday Magic Collection!

Do you have any questions or comments about changing your overlay color?  Leave us a comment below  - we would LOVE to hear from you.  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it!) 

Photoshop Overlays