How to Replace Color in Photoshop (And Make Fall Colors Pop)

Photoshop Replace Color

How to Replace Color in Photoshop

October and November are my favorite months of the year here in the Southeastern U.S.!  The heat and humidity have finally vanished, and I can get outdoors with my camera, without feeling like I'm going to have a heat stroke.

Unfortunately the leaves down here in central Georgia tend to disappoint when it comes to Fall colors, though.  Everything turns sort of a greenish yellow, then drop off the trees.  Where I live, we do not get the bright reds and oranges that we all love so much, so I often rely on the color replacement tool in Photoshop to help me out a bit.

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to quickly change the color of foliage in your images using Photoshop's Replace Color Tool.

Fall Leaves Overlays

Step 1. Duplicate Your Background Layer:

This first step is important.  While editing, you want to keep all edits on a copy of your background layer.  Doing this allows you to always go back to your original image easily.

To duplicate your background image, simply right-click on the Background layer and choose "Duplicate Layer".  You can also use the shortcut ctrl/cmd+J to duplicate the layer.

how to change color in photoshop

Step 2. Add a Layer Mask to Your Duplicated Layer:

Adding a layer mask, will allow you to easily hide or reveal any changes made to this layer.  To add a layer mask, simply click on the small rectangle with a circle inside it below.  You can also go do Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All.

photoshop change color of layer

Step 3. Select the Replace Color Tool

Make sure the duplicated layer is selected, then navigate to and select the replace color tool: Image>Adjustments>Replace Color:

color replacement tool photoshop

Step 4. Change the Color

A touch of green mixed in with oranges and reds is natural, but for a Fall photo we want the greens to be more of a warm, yellow green, than a green with a cool, blue base.

To change the hue of the cool green, with the circle next to Image (instead of Selection) checked, hover the dropper over the color that you want to replace.  In this case, I am sampling the blue green hue just behind the subject:

how to change the color of an image in photoshop

Adjust the Hue, Saturation and Lightness until you are satisfied with the color of the area of foliage you want to correct.  Don't worry if the color on your subject now looks strange, we will fix that in another step.  For now, just focus on getting the color of the foliage correct:

how to change the color of something in photoshop

Step 5. Adjust the Opacity

I always like to reduce the opacity of the duplicated layer first.  Here, I reduced the opacity to 70% so that the initial effect of the Photoshop Replace Color adjustment is not so intense.

Step 6. Remove the Color Adjustment From the Subject

I only want the color replacement to affect the background of the image, not the subject or her skin tone.

To remove the effect of the adjustment completely from the subject, I clicked on the Layer Mask icon, selected a black brush with a soft edge, then I brushed over the subject with my brush at 100% opacity.  This way, the Replace Color adjustments are only applied to the background, and the color of the subject will be the same as it was before I made any adjustments.

You may also want to use your brush to remove the Photoshop Color Replacement effect in other areas of the photo.

Step 7. Correct Any Noise or Pixelation

Be aware that the Photoshop Replace Color Tool can "push" pixels too far in some cases, so be on the lookout for noise and pixelation in highly saturated areas of your image after you apply the adjustment.

When I first applied the Photoshop color adjustments to this image, the orange tones on the ground were looking a bit pixelated, so I reduced the opacity of my brush to 30% to smooth out the area of the ground with the most orange:

change color of image in photoshop

Step 8. Repeat Replace Color Adjustment If Desired

You may also find that you will need to make more than one Replace Color Adjustment to get the colors exactly where you want them.  In this case, I duplicated my layer again, but this time, I targeted the greens and yellows near the subject's face to make them more of a warm yellow green than a blue green:

Fall Photoshop Tutorial


Using the Replace Color Tool in Photoshop is a very quick and easy way to change the colors in your image!

Just keep in mind that you will most likely want to work with more than one layer in order to make the color replacement appear more natural.  And don't forget to work with varying layer and brush opacities, as well!

Fall Photoshop Background

Do you have any questions or comments about using the Photoshop Replace Color Tool?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

Do you want to create your Fall masterpiece?  Don't miss our Falling Leaves Actions & Overlays Collection which includes not only our REAL leaf overlays, but also gorgeous tone actions that will really make your Fall colors Pop!

Fall Leaves Overlays

P.S - If you prefer to edit in Lightroom, our wonderful Fall Lightroom Preset Collection which includes tons of presets and brushes has everything you need to edit your Fall photos in Lightroom!

Fall Lightroom Presets