There are an endless amount of effects you can try in Photoshop, including the ability to invert the colors of your image. Inverting the colors of your image can lead to some interesting effects that are worth experimenting with. The best part is that inverting your colors can be done quickly, giving you more time to experiment with other effects in your image. 

Today you will learn the quickest way to invert the colors of your image with one shortcut. You will learn how to change the look of your image by inverting the colors of your layer’s mask and how to use this process to select your background quickly. Finally, you will learn how to selectively invert the colors of the subject in your image to create a cool trippy effect. 

How To Invert An Image In Photoshop 

To invert the colors of a photo in Photoshop, simply click on the image layer and press Command + I (Mac) or Control + I (Win) to invert the colors. Alternatively, select the image layer and go to Adjustments > Invert for the same result. This shortcut also works to invert layers masks as well.

Now at first glance, it can be kind of confusing what’s happening when you invert an image. So first, let me explain the basics of what Photoshop does when you invert the colors of your image. 

Inverting the colors of your image will change your light-colored pixels with dark-colored pixels and your dark-colored pixels to light-colored pixels. The easiest way to picture this is in black and white terms. Inverting your colors will turn black pixels into white and white pixels into black. 

Remember, this concept is not just for black and white but for every color in the spectrum. Inverting the colors of your image will change the color of each individual pixel into the opposite color. 

Before you invert the colors for your image, you must make sure that your image’s layer is not locked in the Layers panel. If there is a little Lock icon on your image’s layer, click on it to unlock the layer.

Now that your layer is unlocked, we can invert the colors of your image. With the layer selected in the Layers panel, go to Image > Adjustments > Invert

A faster way to invert your colors is to select your layer and press Control + I (Win) or Command + I (Mac).

How To Invert A Layer Masks Colors In Photoshop 

One of the most powerful and often overlooked tools in Photoshop is the layer mask. You can do a lot with layer masks, including hiding and revealing subjects and backgrounds by inverting the colors of your layer mask.

For example, let’s say you have an image that you already cut a subject out using a layer mask. 

Click on the layer mask in the Layers panel and press Control + I (Win) or Command + I (Mac).

Inverting the color of the layer mask reveals what was hidden and hides what was previously visible.

This effect is also reflected in the mask of your layer in the Layers panel. 

Using this technique also works when selecting subjects using a quick mask. If you’ve already selected your subject, you can invert what is selected in your quick mask. 

You would do this by clicking on the Quick Mask Icon, making sure that your Foreground Color is Black, and grabbing the Brush Tool (B)

Paint over the subject that you want to be selected with your brush. Your subject will be covered in an opaque red color. 

Once your subject is selected, press Control + I (Win) or Command + I (Mac) to invert the colors of your mask. Now, everything except your subject will be covered in the opaque red color. 

To make the selection official, click on the Quick Mask Icon again. You can now make whatever edits you need to depending on your project. 

How To Selectively Invert Colors In Photoshop 

Sometimes you don’t want to invert the color of your entire image, but instead, invert a specific area of your image. You can do this by placing a duplicated layer above your original one, inverting the new layer, then selecting and hiding the areas you need to on the original layer. 

Step 1: Duplicate Your Layer And Invert The Copy

The first thing you need to do is duplicate the layer you wish to invert the colors on. Click and drag your layer onto the New Layer icon in the Layers panel

Now that you have a duplicated layer, you need to invert the colors of the entire copied image. To do this, click on your new layer and press Control + I (Win) or Command + I (Mac). 

You will see that your layer has been inverted in the Layers panel. Now, the next step ensures that whatever pixels you erase on the top layer will reveal the pixels on the bottom layer. 

Step 2: Add A Layer Mask

Since both of your layers are set up, we need to be able to hide a large number of pixels all at once. You can do this with a layer mask. 

To add a layer mask, select your layer and click on the Layer Mask Button. You will see a white layer mask pop up next to the layer. 

Step 3: Setup Your Foreground Color To Black

There is one more thing you need to set up before you can selectively invert the colors on your image. Make sure that your Foreground Color is Black

When it comes to using a layer mask, the general rule goes, “white reveals, black conceals.” So if you paint on a layer mask with black, you will hide the pixels on the top layer, making it possible to see the pixels on the layer below. 

So for this process to work, make sure that your Foreground Color is black.

Step 4: Fill Your Selection With Black On The Layer Mask

Now that your layers are set up, and your Foreground Color is set to black, it’s time for you to select the area you want to erase from the layer mask. 

You can select the area using the Quick Selection Tool or the method in the previous section using a Quick Mask.

Then, click on the layer mask and press Alt + Delete (Win) or Option + Delete (Mac). What this will do is fill your selection with your Foreground Color. Since you clicked on the mask itself, the color black conceals the selected pixels on the mask. 

Doing this will create a hole in your mask the size of your selection. 

The hole you just made in your mask makes it possible to see the pixels of the layer below it. Giving the illusion in your image of your subject being surrounded by inverted colors. 

To deselect your selection go to Select > Deselect or press Control + D (Win) or Command + D (Mac). 

It’s also easy to see what your image would look like if your subject was inverted and the rest of the image was normal. 

To do this, click on your mask again and press Control + I (Win) or Command + I (Mac). This inverts the colors of your mask so that your subject is white and the rest of the image is black. 

Your image itself will now have an inverted subject and a normal background. 

Experimenting with your colors by inverting them can result in some amazing effects!