In our last blog, we looked at gently adjusting the Hue, Saturation or Luminance of a color in a photo using the TAT tool (Targeted Adjustment Tool). But what if you want to completely change a specific color, for example the color of a shirt or a car? You can use a Color Range selection that you’ll find in Masking.
Let’s take this photo and change the color of the blue dress to green in a few simple clicks.
Create a Color Range Selection
To create a Color Range selection as your first mask on an image, select the Masking tool beneath the histogram (Lightroom Classic, left image) / in the sidebar (Lightroom Desktop, right image). Then Color Range as the type of mask you want to create.
Or if you’ve already used Masking on the photo, click Create New Mask in the Masks panel then select Color Range.
The color range selector tool is automatically selected. Click on your chosen color in the photo (blue in this case), or for greater accuracy, click and drag a rectangle to select a range of colors. You can add up to five samples by holding down the Shift key when you click. If you make a mistake and need to remove a sample point, hold down the Alt key (Windows) / Opt key (Mac) and click on the sample icons.
Tip: it can be easier to see the areas affected in the photo by changing the mask overlay to Color Overlay on B&W using the … button at the bottom of the Masks panel. This is especially helpful if you are selecting red, as this is usually present in skin tones too. In our example, we selected a red overlay for anything selected so it’s really easy to spot.
Fine Tune the Selection
Once you’ve selected the right area, adjust the Refine slider to adjust the threshold. Holding down the Alt (Windows) / Opt (Mac) key while dragging the slider makes it easier to see which pixels are included in the selection.
But what if the Color Range selection has picked up other areas in the photo that you don’t want to adjust? In this case, there’s only one blue dress so the selection is simple. But what if we were trying to select only the red dress but not the pink background?
There’s multiple ways of combining selection tools, but in this case, let’s keep it really simple. Click the Subtract button in the mask and select the Brush tool. Paint away the areas you don’t want to affect with your color change.
Adjust the Color
Finally, with the mask still selected, it’s time to adjust the color using the sliders on the right. The Hue slider is the obvious choice for a complete color change, but you might also want to adjust the Exposure (for a lighter or darker shade) or Saturation (to make the new color more or less saturated).
Here’s our finished photo – a blue dress is now green! This took us just a few clicks to achieve. Some photos and colors can be more complex, but the selection process is often much quicker than trying to select it all with a brush.
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