Color Replacement Tool in Photoshop Elements 10 - dummies

Color Replacement Tool in Photoshop Elements 10

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

The Color Replacement tool allows you to replace the original color of an image with the foreground color. You can use this tool in a multitude of ways:

  • Colorize a grayscale image to create the look of a hand-painted photo.

  • Completely change the color of an element, or elements, in your image.

  • Eliminate red-eye (or yellow-eye in animals) if other, more automated, methods don’t work to your satisfaction.


The Color Replacement tool preserves all the tones in the image. The color that’s applied isn’t like the opaque paint that’s applied when you paint with the Brush tool. When you’re replacing color, the midtones, shadows, and highlights are retained.

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 Full Photo Edit mode, select the Color Replacement tool from the Tools panel.

    This tool shares a flyout menu with the Brush and Pencil tools. Press Shift+B to cycle through the tools.

  2. Specify your desired brush tip diameter and hardness from the Brush Preset Picker drop-down panel.

  3. Choose your desired blend mode.

    Here’s a brief rundown of each one:

    • Color. The default, this mode works well for most jobs. This mode works great for eliminating red-eye.

    • Hue. Similar to color, this mode is less intense and provides 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, the opposite of Color, doesn’t provide much of an effect.

  4. Select your Limits mode.

    You have these options:

    • Contiguous replaces the color of adjacent pixels containing the sampled color.

    • Discontiguous replaces the color of the pixels containing the sampled color, whether or not they’re adjacent.

  5. Set your Tolerance percentage.

    Tolerance refers to a range of color. The higher the value, the broader the range of color that’s sampled, and vice versa.

  6. Select the Anti-Alias option.

    Anti-aliasing slightly softens the edges of the sampled areas.

  7. Click or drag your image.

    The foreground color replaces the original colors of the sampled areas.

If you want to be very precise, make a selection before you replace your color.