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How To Change Clothing Color In Photoshop

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Changing the color of clothing in Photoshop seems like a tricky task because of the unevenness of clothes. When changing the color of clothes, you have to take into account the various shadows and tones that occur from their creases to get a good result. Luckily with the right steps, this can all be done quite easily.

The method you use to change the color will depend on the color of the clothes as well as how they appear in the image. Black and white clothing are the trickiest to change because they are not actual colors, they are in fact shades. This means that there are no hues to change.

So depending on the initial color of your clothing, the method you use will vary. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to change both colored, white, and black clothing with ease!

The Easiest Way To Change The Color Of Clothing In Photoshop

In certain instances, you can quickly change the color of clothing in a few clicks. This is done by simply changing one color in the image to another using the Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer. This method works well when the color of the clothing is not repeated in the image, such as when a model in a blue shirt stands against a white background.

Just remember, this technique only works when changing actual colors (not white or black) so use this method only when working with colored clothing.

As usual, open your image in Photoshop. As you can see in this example, the color of the shirt is not repeated in the image, which makes it simple to change the color by adjusting the hue of the shirt.

Start by adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer. You can add this layer by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation or by clicking the Hue/Saturation icon in the Adjustments panel

If you use the menu path, you will have the option to name the new layer before it is added to your Layers panel. Select OK, when you have added a name to the layer.

Once you have created the layer, open the Properties panel above the Layers panel. If this panel is not visible, head to Window > Properties.

In the Hue/Saturation Properties panel, you can select the color you want to change in two ways. The first is to choose a color channel to target by clicking on the drop-down menu that reads “Master” by default.

However, for a more precise selection, select the icon showing a finger with two arrows on either side. Then click on the color in the image you want to select. For this photo, I will click on his shirt.

Once the color is selected, you will notice that the color group has automatically changed. You could skip the color selecting step if you have made a selection around the clothing item you want to change the color of.

With the color of the shirt selected, adjust the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness sliders to the color and tone you want the shirt to be. 

The shirt will change color as you move the sliders making it easy to find the right updated color. You will now have successfully changed the color of the shirt.

How To Change White Clothing Into Color In Photoshop

Adding color to clothing becomes a bit harder when the item is white. To add a color to a white shirt, you can add a color fill layer over the item and blend it in using Photoshop’s layer blend modes.

This method requires some basic selection skills so your color fill layer only applies to the clothing. Luckily this is quite simple with something like the Object Selection Tool or the Quick Selection Tool.

Once again, open up your image in Photoshop with the white item of clothing you would like to change.

When the image is open, use any selection tool to select the white shirt. In this case, the Object Selection tool works best for me. Select it from the toolbar or press W. Alternatively, you can select another selection tool by holding the icon until the menu appears.

With the Object Selection tool, select the shirt by clicking and dragging on the image to draw a selection box around it. Photoshop will then automatically snap the selection to the edge of the shirt. Alternatively, the quick selection tool is used by painting over the shirt until it is all selected.

If you need to select more areas, you can select the Add to Selection in the Options bar which is the same spot for each selection tool. Make sure the entire shirt is selected properly before moving on to the next step.

Once the shirt is selected, add a color fill layer by selecting the new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and selecting Solid Color from the menu.

The color picker will automatically open, where you can select the color you want the shirt to be. Click on the color of your choice in the panel on the left or add in a specific color value in the color modes on the right. You can also use the middle slider to adjust the lightness of the color.

Pressing OK in the color picker, you will notice the color of the white shirt has changed. However, the color doesn’t look realistic and it is evident that a solid color was simply added to the shirt. This obviously creates a highly unnatural-looking shirt color, so let’s fix that.

To blend the new color into the shirt, you need to change the blend mode of the new fill layer. 

To do this, make sure the new fill layer is selected and click on the layer blending mode at the top of the Layers panel. Then, select Multiply from the options in the drop-down menu. 

Once you select Multiply, you will notice that the new color has blended into the shirt and looks a lot more natural. However, depending on how well the selection was done, there may be a few areas of the shirt which are still white.

These areas can be fixed up easily because of the layer mask. To fix up these areas, select the layer mask of the fill layer, then select the Brush tool from the toolbar (B). Then, make sure the foreground color is set to white.

Note: When painting over a layer mask, white hides the original layer, whereas black reveals the original layer.

Resize the brush using the slider in the Brush Preset Panel or use [ to decrease the size and ] to increase the size. Adjust the brush according to the size of the area you need to touch up.

Once the brush size is correct, brush over the areas of the image you need to touch up.

Once you have touched up the areas using the layer mask and the Brush tool, you will have a shirt that has been changed from white to any color, which in my case is red.

How To Change The Color Of Black Clothes In Photoshop

Changing the color of black clothing is the most difficult because there is technically no hue in the clothing to change.

Luckily while using the Colorize method you’re about to learn here, it’s simple to add color to black clothing; but it has its limitations. The biggest limitation is that you can only add dark colors to the clothing. This method is not well-suited for changing black clothing into white or light colors.

To add color to a black shirt, as always, open your image in Photoshop to get started.

Once your image is open, you need to make a selection of the shirt so that only the clothing is affected by the color change. In this case, the Quick Selection tool will work nicely. To select the tool, click and hold on the Object Selection tool in the toolbar and select the second option.

Then click and drag over the shirt, to make a selection that only covers the shirt. If there are some pieces of hair in the selection, this is not a problem as we will fix this up later.

Once the shirt is selected, create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer by clicking on the icon in the Adjustments panel, or by clicking the adjustment icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and selecting Hue/Saturation.

When the Hue/Saturation Properties panel opens your selection will automatically be applied to the mask. 

Now check the box next to Colorize. The colorize option adds a tinted overlay to the selection allowing you to add a general hue and saturation to the area.

Now, when you adjust the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness slider, the shirt will change color. Remember to only slightly adjust the sliders because changing the color too much will look unnatural. In this instance, pushing the lightness up too much makes the shirt look fake.

Re-adjust the sliders until you have a natural-looking color added to the shirt. Since the original shirt is black, we can only realistically add dark colors in this instance.

Once your Hue/Saturation layer has been added and adjusted, you will notice that the hair that was included in the selection has also changed color.

To fix the hair, double-click on the Adjustment layer in your Layers panel. This will open up the Layer Style panel.

Once the Layer Style panel has opened, move down to the last section and ensure that the Blend If option is set to Gray.

Then, use the bottom Underlying Layer slider and drag the highlight point to the left to remove the adjustment from the highlights (aka the blonde hair). Since the shirt is dark and the hair is light, this makes it easy to remove the adjustment from the hair.

Adjust the slider as much as you need until the hair is back to its original color. Then click OK when you are done.

You will now have an image where the black shirt has been changed to a dark color without the hair on the shirt affected by the color change.

How To Make Colors Brighter When Changing Black Clothing

When changing black clothing, you can take a few extra steps to lighten up the new color a bit using the Curves adjustment.

To lighten up the clothing, adjust the Hue/Saturation levels to the color you would like to lighten. If you have already added the adjustment layer in the previous section, select the layer to adjust the properties as needed.

To add a curves adjustment layer, select the Curves icon from the Adjustment panel or select the icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and select the Curves option from the menu.

Once the Curves layer is added, you need to add a clipping mask to only apply the new adjustment to the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and not the entire image. To add a clipping mask, right-click (Win) or Control + click (Mac) on the Curves layer and select Create Clipping Mask.

The clipping mask will be evident by the arrow icon next to the Curves layer thumbnail, indicating that the adjustments will only apply to the layer below.

In the Curves Properties window, modify the curve, to lift the shadows and refine the highlights. In a nutshell, dragging up the curve will lighten, while dragging down will darken. In this case, I will add an anchor point in the shadows and highlights and drag up to lighten the shirt.

When the new adjustment is added, the edges around the hair on the shirt may change color and look unnatural.

To fix this, double click on the Hue/Saturation layer to open the Layer Style panel and re-adjust the Underlying Layer Blend If slider at the bottom. Hold Alt (Win) or Option (Mac) to separate the slider for a better blend.

Once you select OK, you will have a significantly lighter-colored shirt from the original black.

Now with these different techniques, you can easily change the color of clothing regardless of the environment your subjects are in. Just remember that if you ever have a problem, just create a selection to isolate your effects on the clothes!

Now that you’ve changed the color of your subject’s clothes, you may want to touch up some of the clothing wrinkles too. I share exactly how to do that in this next tutorial on how to remove wrinkles from clothing in Photoshop.

Happy editing!

Photo of author
I'm a Canadian photographer and photo retoucher turned founder of bwillcreative.com. Around here I help you to decode the mystery of photo editing with no-fluff videos and written guides to help you achieve your creative goals. Outside of shooting photos and my passion for educating, you'll find me mountain biking or on the trails with my dog, Sunny!

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