How to Change Colors Using the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer in Photoshop Elements
Photoshop has a way to adjust color very easily using the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. In this tutorial you will see just how easy it is to use this amazing tool. I will use Photoshop Elements, but this feature works the same in the full version of Photoshop as well.
First, open a file in Photoshop Elements, or use one of the backgrounds available from the Background pulldown menu on the Contents tab. Go to File - Save As... to save it as a new working file, preserving your original in case you need it again later. I usually just add "_working" to the end of the file name.
The adjustment layer button is found at the bottom of the layer panel. To learn more about the layer panel see the tutorial on layers. Adjustment layers are a way to change the file without altering the original file itself. This is called "non destructive" editing. The color of this background file is brown, but lets say you want a blue background instead. In the layers panel, click on the "create new fill or adjustment layer" button, and choose "Hue/Saturation..."
The panel opens and shows sliders for Hue, Saturation and Lightness. There is a pull down menu where you can choose which colors you want the adjustment to apply to. To change the color of the background from brown to blue I am going to leave the pull down on Master, which will alter all the color channels.
Move the Hue slider, or you can type in the numbers to change the color of the image. Here I went to -115 to change our image to blue.
Just move the slider anywhere along the line to change the colors. Here I moved the slider to the other side to change the color to green.
The saturation slider intensifies the color, or can remove the color altogether. Here is the green one with the saturation slider all the way to the right. You can see it really intensifies the color.
And this one has the saturation slider all the way to the left. This basically removes all the color making the image grayscale.
You can use the lighten slider to darken or lighten the image. I went back to the first adjustment we made, making the image blue. Here is that image with the lighten slider set to -50, making the image darker.
And here is one with the lighten slider set to +50, lightening the image.
You can use these sliders on any color image to adjust the color and saturation, and to darken or lighten the image. Using combinations of the sliders the color possibilities are enormous. Experiment with your own images.But what about a black image? How can you add color to an image that has no color to begin with? We opened a black image for the background.
Using the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer we can colorize this image. Open a new adjustment layer and check the "colorize" box found toward the bottom of the panel. Adjust the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders to find the color you want. Here we made it blue.
And here we changed it to green.
If you bring in other graphics, you may want to change the color of one layer while leaving the other layers alone. This can also be done with the adjustment layers. Here I opened the original brown background we used and brought in a blue flower.
If I use an adjustment layer above the flower layer to change the color of the flower, it also changes the color of all the layers below it, in this case the background layer. Here the adjustment layer changed the flower to yellow, but also changed the background to blue, which I didn't want to happen
There is a way to make the adjustment layer affect only one layer. In our case, I can hold down the alt key on a PC or the option key on a Mac, and place the curser between the flower layer and the adjustment layer in the layers panel. When the curser turns into two overlapping circles, click the mouse button. The adjustment layer then affects only the layer immediately below it, leaving the other layers unaffected. The adjustment layer label moves to the right, and an arrow points to the layer below indicating it is "clipped" (only affects) that layer. Here you can see the adjustment layer changed the flower to yellow and left the background brown.
An alternate way to make an adjustment layer affect only one layer is hold down the alt key (option key on a Mac) when clicking on the "create a new adjustment layer" icon. This will open a dialog box allowing you to change settings for the adjustment layer. Click on the box that says "Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask" and click OK. The adjustment layer will now only affect the layer immediately below it.
When you have the file the color you want it, save the layered "_working" file as a PSD. Saving the layered file allows you the option to make additional changes in the future. Then flatten the file, and save it with a new name. I replace "_working" with "_flat" or "_final".
With such a powerful tool as the Hue/Saturation adjustment layers you can download any image, and colorize it to suit your taste. Keep experimenting and have fun.
"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed but that our power to do is increased".