Colorize with the Photoshop Elements 11 Color Replacement Tool

The Color Replacement tool in Photoshop Elements 11 allows you to replace the original color of an image with the foreground color. You can use this tool in a variety of ways. Create the look of a hand-painted photo by colorizing a grayscale image.

Or maybe you just want to change the color of an object or two, such as a couple of flowers in a bouquet. And even though Elements has a bona fide Red Eye tool, you can also use the Color Replacement tool to eliminate red- (or yellow- or green-) eye in people and animals.

The great thing about the Color Replacement tool is that, like the other healing tools, it completely preserves the tonality of the image. The color that you apply doesn’t obliterate the midtones, shadows, and highlights as it would if you were applying color with the regular Brush tool.

The Color Replacement tool works by first sampling the original colors in the image and then replacing those colors with the foreground color. By specifying different sampling methods, limits, and tolerance settings, you can control the range of colors that Elements replaces.

Follow these steps to replace existing color with your foreground color:

  1. In the Photo Editor, in Expert mode, open your image and select the Color Replacement tool from the Tools panel.

    You can also press the B key to cycle through all the Brush tools.

  2. In the Tool Options, select your desired brush-tip from the Brush Preset Picker drop-down panel and further adjust your brush size as needed.

  3. Adjust the hardness, spacing, roundness, and angle under Brush Settings.

  4. In the Tool Options, select your desired Blend mode:

    • Color: This default mode works well for most colorizing jobs. Use this mode if you’re trying to get rid of red-eye.

    • Hue: This mode is similar to color, but less intense, providing a subtler effect.

    • Saturation: This mode is the one to use to convert the color in your image to grayscale. Set your foreground color to Black on the Tools panel.

    • Luminosity: This mode is the opposite of the Color mode. Although this Blend mode can create a beautiful effect between two image layers, it doesn’t tend to provide that great an effect in other circumstances.

  5. Select your sampling Limits mode.

    • *Contiguous: The default setting replaces the color of pixels containing the sampled color that are adjacent to each other directly under the brush.

    • Discontiguous: Replaces the color of the pixels containing the sampled color wherever it occurs under your brush.

  6. Specify your Tolerance percentage.

    Tolerance refers to a range of color. A high tolerance lets you replace a broad range of color. A low tolerance limits the replacement of color to only the areas that are very similar to the sampled color.

  7. Choose whether you want anti-aliasing.

    Remember, anti-aliasing slightly softens and smoothes the edge of the sampled areas.

  8. After you establish your settings, click or drag in your image.

    Notice how the color, which in the example is purple, replaces the original colors of the sampled areas, which is dark pink. Of course, the exact effect you get depends on your settings.

    [Credit: ©istockphoto.com/ courtneyk Image #15324176]
    Credit: ©istockphoto.com/ courtneyk Image #15324176

If you want to be more accurate, make a selection before you replace your color so that you can avoid coloring elements you don’t want to color.

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