How To Change The Color Of Objects, Text, and Shapes In Photoshop

There are a variety of easy ways to change the color of layers in Photoshop, whether you’re working with shapes, images, or text. The only trick is that each type of layer requires something a little different for editing the color.

To change the color of a layer in Photoshop, click on the foreground color at the bottom of the toolbar. In the color picker that appears, select a new color for the layer and click OK. Now select your desired layer and press Alt or Option + Delete to fill the layer with the active foreground color.

Now that is the most basic and quick way of changing the color of a layer in Photoshop, but obviously won’t work for all color-changing needs. So let’s begin to break down how to change the color of any layer type individually instead!

How To Fill A Layer With Color

To fill a layer with color in Photoshop, first select your desired layer in the Layers Panel. Next, click on the foreground color at the bottom of the toolbar and select a new layer color. With a color chosen, press Alt + Delete (Windows) or Option + Delete (Mac) to fill your layer with the color.

This technique works best when filling in a transparent layer with color since it will cover everything up. If you have something on your layer that you don’t want to get rid of, then this particular method isn’t ideal.

However, it works great to create solid-colored layers for adding to your background!

For the sake of example, I’ll first create a new layer by clicking on the new layer icon. I’ll then make sure that the new layer is selected since that’s the one I want to fill with color. 

Next, you’ll need to choose a foreground color. This is the top box of the two color boxes found at the bottom of the toolbar. Click on it to bring up the color picker.

Within the color picker, choose a color you want to fill your layer with, then press OK.

Now you will have an updated foreground color, and you’re ready to fill the layer!

Making sure the layer is selected, press Alt + Delete (PC) or Option + Delete (Mac) to fill the layer with the foreground color. Now you’re left with a solid color covering the entire layer!

In terms of general color fills, this is the quickest and most basic way of doing things. In the next section, you’ll learn about fill layers that offer a similar result but are easier to edit afterward!

How To Change Fill Layer Color In Photoshop

To change the color of a color fill layer in Photoshop, first, double click on the color fill layer icon in the Layers Panel. Then, in the color picker that appears, select a new color for the fill layer and click OK. Now the color fill layer has been changed.

Depending on which type of fill layer you are working with, the color-changing technique varies a bit. So let’s start with color fill layers!

1. Color Fill Layers

Color fill layers act as a single layer dedicated to displaying a single color. They work well for adding as image backgrounds or using with a clipping mask to change the color of rasterized shapes. Unlike the previous color fill method you learned, a color fill layer is much easier to edit.

To create a color fill layer, go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.

In the color picker that appears, select a color for your color fill layer and click OK.

Now you are left with a color fill layer that fills your entire canvas with your chosen color. If you need to change this color, simply click on the fill layer icon to reveal the color picker. 

Since these types of layers are so easy to edit, it’s an effective way of changing the color of an entire layer in Photoshop!

2. Gradient Fill Layers

The next type of fill layer in Photoshop is called a gradient fill layer. As the name suggests, these types of layers fill your image with a gradient rather than a solid color.

To create a new gradient fill layer, go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient.

In the gradient fill dialogue box that appears, you have all the options for editing your gradient. To change the color of your gradient, you need to click on the gradient editor.

Inside the gradient editor, you can choose between a variety of preset gradients available in Photoshop. If you aren’t finding what you need, you can create a custom gradient by clicking on the color swatches beneath the gradient preview.

Once you’re happy with your gradient, click OK to exit the gradient editor and the gradient fill dialogue box. Now you’re left with a gradient filling your canvas rather than a solid color!

Like with a color fill layer, you can change the color of gradient fill layer by double-clicking on the layer icon. This will reopen the gradient fill dialogue box to allow for easy color and style changes to the gradient.

Now that you have a solid handle on how to change the color of an entire layer using keyboard shortcuts or fill layers let’s start getting specific. Next, you’ll learn how to change the color of shapes and objects in your layers!

How To Change The Color Of A Shape Layer

To change the color of a shape layer in Photoshop, select the shape layer and access the Shape Tool (U). This will reveal a variety of options in the upper setting bar for editing the shape. To change the color, click “Fill” and select a new color for the shape.

This same process works for any shape layer that you work with. From circles, rectangles, polygons, and more, it’s all the same steps!

First, you need to make sure your shape layer is selected by selecting it in the Layers Panel. This way, Photoshop knows what shape you are trying to edit.

Then to reveal the settings available in the upper setting bar, you need to make sure the shape tool is active. You can find this tool near the bottom of your toolbar or press U on your keyboard to access it.

Within the different settings, look for the one called “Fill.” Click on it to reveal your fill color options where you can choose between a variety of preset color swatches. If you need a more custom color for your shape, click on the color picker in the upper right corner.

After you click on a new fill color, notice how the color of your shape changes too! You can rinse and repeat this process multiple times if needed until you settle on the perfect shape color.

Now, if you’re working with a rasterized shape, the fill option won’t affect your shape. Instead, you’ll need to use a different technique that I outline in detail here.

How To Change The Color Of A Text Layer

There are a few different ways to change the color of text layers in Photoshop, but the easiest is with the Character Panel. This panel offers a variety of style settings for your text layers and allows for quick color adjustments.

First, you need to access the Character Panel by going to Window > Character to reveal the panel.

Then select your desired text layer in your Layers Panel.

Now go to the Color option within the Character Panel and select a new color from the color picker that appears. Once you’re happy with the new color, click OK.

Since your text layer was selected in the Layers Panel, this color adjustment will be directly applied to your text. The great thing about this method is that you don’t need to activate the type tool or highlight your text. Instead, a simple click on your layer is all that’s required to change the color of your text!

Now, this is the most simple and basic way of changing text color in Photoshop, but if you want to learn some more advanced ways to edit text color, this tutorial will share everything you need to know!

How To Change The Color Of The Background Layer In Photoshop

When you first create a Photoshop project, you’ll have a background layer created by default. Often, this is set to white, but you can quickly change its color whether you’re creating a new document or already have one started.

– Changing The Background Layer Color Of A New Project

If you have yet to create a new document, you can edit the background color within the new document dialogue box. To access these options, press “New” from the Photoshop start screen or press Command + N (Mac) or Control + N (PC) on your keyboard.

Here you can choose all of your settings for the new document you are about to create, including the background color. Clicking on the drop-down menu under Background Contents, you can choose between five different background options:

  • White – Sets the background layer color to white
  • Black – Sets the background layer color to black
  • Background Color – Sets the background color based on your active background color in the Photoshop workspace.
  • Transparent – Removes all color of the background layer and instead replaced it with a transparent layer.
  • Custom – Allows you to choose a custom color for your background layer.

You can pick any background layer color you can imagine between these options before ever creating a new project. Then, after pressing “Create” to open the new project, you will have your background layer set to the color you specified while creating the new document.

– Changing The Background Layer Color Of Existing Background Layers

Another situation you may find yourself in is needing to change the background layer color that is already created. Rather than creating a new document, you simply need to edit the color of your existing background layer. Luckily this is super easy to do with a simple fill layer keyboard shortcut.

First, you need to select a color to fill your layer with. By clicking on your foreground color at the bottom of your toolbar, choose a color to fill your background layer with.

Next, click on your background layer to select it and press Alt + Delete (PC) or Option + Delete (Mac) to fill your layer with the foreground color.

This keyboard shortcut can be used for any layer in Photoshop but works well to quickly change the background layer’s color.

How To Change The Color Of A Photo In Photoshop

To change the colors in a photo, create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer via the Adjustments Panel and place it above your image. Next, select a Hue/Saturation color channel to effect within your photo, then adjust the hue, saturation, and lightness sliders accordingly.

The Hue/Saturation adjustment layer is the most simple way of changing the color of a photo in Photoshop since you can target different color channels. Breaking up your image into a variety of colors, it’s easy to apply targeted color-changing effects anywhere in your photo without selections.

Let’s take a deeper look at how you can use this adjustment layer to change colors within any image you work with.

To create a hue/saturation adjustment layer, click on the icon within the Adjustments Panel, or select it via the adjustment layer option at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Once created, make sure it is placed above your image layer, or else your adjustment won’t make any changes.

Then double click on the hue/saturation layer icon to open the adjustment panel. Inside this panel are various options to choose from, but let’s first talk about color channels.

The default color channel will be set to “Master,” which means your color adjustments will apply to every color range in your photo. If you want to change color globally, this is a good option, but it doesn’t work well for targeted adjustments.

Luckily you can easily make more specific adjustments by changing the color channel. By clicking on the drop-down menu, you can choose between a variety of colors. These options are the same for every photo you work with, but the usefulness of each channel will vary depending on which colors are present in your image.

For example, if you selected the blue color channel, your color adjustments would only apply to the blues in your image.

Now within every color channel, there are three adjustment sliders to help you edit your colors. Let’s break down what they all mean for your editing.

Understanding The Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Sliders

The hue slider will change the hue of any color in your photo. This hue adjustment will apply varying color effects to your photos depending on which color channel is selected. This slider is the main one you will use to actually change colors in an image.

The saturation slider controls the richness of the colors in your photo. By increasing or decreasing this slider, you can better control how colorful your image appears.

Lastly, you have the lightness slider, which controls the brightness of different colors in your images. With a higher lightness setting, colors will take on a more soft pastel look. With a lower lightness setting, they will appear more black.

Seeing The Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer In Action

Now that you understand how this adjustment layer changes color in a photo let’s go through a quick example together. First, I’ll create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer above my image layer.

Then within the Hue/Saturation Adjustment options, I will select a color channel to work with. In most cases, you will edit multiple color channels to get all the color-changing effects that you’re looking for. If you aren’t sure where to start, simply go through each color channel in order.

To see exactly what areas of the photo will be edited, move the saturation slider to +100. This will heavily saturate every color within your selected channel, making it easy to see what’s affected.

Now that you know what’s going to be edited reset the saturation back to 0. Then click and drag on the Hue Slider to adjust the hue of the colors of your active color channel.

After editing the hue, work through the saturation and lightness sliders as needed to finalize your updated color hue. From there, you can repeat this process through every color channel to completely change the colors in your image.

This technique works best for editing general parts of your photo without getting too specific. If, however, you want to change the color of an object or a piece of clothing, there’s a far more precise way of doing things.

How To Change The Color Of An Object 

Now to change the color of an object without editing anything else, you need to use a selection to make your adjustments precise. There are many different ways to create selections in Photoshop, but one of the easiest ways is with the Quick Selection Tool.

For this example, let’s change the color of this woman’s shirt with the help of the Quick Selection Tool and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.

First, access the Quick Selection Tool in your toolbar or by pressing W on your keyboard.

With your image layer selected, begin to paint over the object you want to change the color of. In this case, I will paint around the shirt to select it.

While using the Quick Selection Tool, you may run into problems where it selects things you do not want. To remove part of your active selection, press the Alt or Option on your keyboard and paint over where you want to remove.

Now adding to your selection will be done by default while the Quick Selection Tool is active. However, if you need to select another place not directly connected to your other selection area, simply hold Shift and paint to add to the active selection.

After doing a bit of refining holding Alt/Option or Shift, you will be left with a perfect selection around the object you want to change the color of. In this example, the t-shirt is perfectly selected.

With the selection complete, create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. The active selection will automatically be applied to the adjustment layers mask, so your color adjustments will only target your selected object.

Opening the Hue/Saturation adjustment settings, you can work within the Master color channel since you have already selected the area you wish to target. By adjusting the hue, saturation, and lightness sliders, you will only affect the areas that you selected previously.

So whether you are changing the color of clothes like in this example or other objects in your photo, this method is a fast and easy way to do so!

How To Change The Color Of Multiple Layers At Once

If you want to change the color of multiple layers at once, so you don’t have to go through each one individually, there are a few different ways depending on your layer types. Let’s break down the process of changing the color of multiple shapes, text layers, and image layers at once.

Changing The Color Of Multiple Shape Layers

In this example, a few different shapes have been created, all with different colors. Let’s say I need to make all these colors match, but I don’t want to go through and change the color of each shape separately.

(Because who wants to spend the time doing that? Not me!)

First, hold the Command or Control key and click between each shape layer to select them in the Layers Panel.

Once they are selected, press U to access the shape tool and reveal the shape settings in the upper bar. Then click on the “Fill” option and select a new color to apply it to all of the selected shape layers at once. The same thing applies to the stroke color as well!

Changing The Color Of Multiple Text Layers

Like the last example with the shapes, now multiple text layers need their color changed. If you have a lot of layers, you can filter the Layers Panel to only see your text layers by pressing on the T icon at the top of the panel. Once filtered, hold Command or Control and click on the text layers you want to change the color of.

With the text layers selected, open the Character Panel. If you don’t see it, go to Window > Character to reveal it. Inside this panel, click on the Color option and choose a new fill color for your text.

Now the updated color will be added to all of your selected text layers at once and saves you time editing each one individually!

Changing The Color Of Multiple Image Layers

As for changing the color of multiple images at once, you don’t need to do anything more than create a hue/saturation adjustment layer above your image layers!

Adjustment layers are applied to every layer beneath them in the layer stack by default. That means you will edit all of your image layers with the hue/saturation adjustment without having to do anything special. If you were only to apply these color adjustments to a single layer, you would need to use a clipping mask.

Otherwise, simply creating a hue/saturation adjustment layer above your other layers is all that’s required to target multiple image layers at once!

How To Change The Color A Layer Mask

To change the color of a layer mask in Photoshop, select the Brush Tool, then click on your layer mask to select it. Next, set your foreground color to white (100% visible) or black (100% transparent) to edit your layer mask. Now paint on the canvas to mask the layer and change the layer mask color.

Layer masks are an essential tool to hide parts of your layers non-destructively. They work well for removing backgrounds or applying selective adjustments, but if you don’t know how to edit their color, you may run into problems.

In the world of layer masks, white is 100% visible, while black is 100% transparent. Therefore, any shade of grey between black and white simply indicates varying levels of transparency. Outside of black, grey, or white, no other colors can be used with a layer mask.

By default, a new layer mask added to a layer will be completely white, meaning everything on that layer is visible.

To change this layer mask’s color in this situation, you need to paint black or grey to edit the layer mask and hide part of your layer. First, select the Brush Tool (B) and click on your foreground color. In the color picker that appears, choose black to make any area you paint over 100% transparent.

Before you paint on your canvas, click on your layer mask to ensure it is selected. Once selected, you will see a white highlight around the layer mask.

From here, begin to paint on your canvas to change the color of the layer mask and mask out your layer. If you need to make parts of your layer visible again, simply change the foreground color to white, select the layer mask, and paint over your image once again. This time you will make the black parts of the layer mask visible once again!

So now you know how to change the color of any shape layer, text layer, image, or layer mask in Photoshop with ease. Although there is a lot to remember, the techniques you learned here will help you breeze through your color-changing edits. Now, if you’re looking to improve your color-changing skills even further, check out this next tutorial on how to add color to black or white objects in Photoshop!

Happy Editing!

Brendan 🙂

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. You can view my photography portfolio here.

These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

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