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How to create a selection and change its color in an image in Adobe Photoshop?

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Ryan Kilimnik
I use my years of visual communication and design thinking to understand the user and their pain points to deliver the best user experience.
In this article, I'll explain how to change the color of a selection in Photoshop. I'm sure there are a couple different ways to do this in photoshop, but this is my preferred method in Photoshop. I am using Photoshop CS6 and I will be adjusting the color balance of selection. In this particular image, I will change the guys striped shirt to a blue striped shirt.

Step One: Open Image

First open your image. Duplicate the image layer and work in a copied layer. Select "Layer" in top menu > Select "Duplicate Layer". Now I have two layers that I name "original" and "copy". I do this as a way to preserve the original image. Alternatively, you could duplicate the actual image and open the copy only. If working with two layers, don't forget to turn off the original layer and only work in the copied layer.

Step Two: Trace the shape

I use the pen tool to Trace my image. There are some good tutorials out there for tracing. See this one or this one.
I find a point to start on the shirt and work around the edge by adding pen points around the shape. If the path I'm tracing doesn't match the shape I'm trying to trace, I quickly switch to the Direct Select Tool (white arrow tool) to adjust the bezier handles that show up on each point to better manipulate the shape to match my traced outline.

Step Three: Make the selection

Now that you traced your shape -- in this instance the man's shirt -- open the "path" palette. Select "Window" in top menu > Select "Paths". Right click on the path (probably named "Work Path") and select "Make selection…". This brings up the Make Selection dialog box. Make sure your "Feather Radius" is set to 0 if you want to your selection to exactly match your tracing. Leave the "Operation" set to "New Selection". Note: The feather radius will feather the edge of your selection by the number of pixels you enter here, which might be useful for some images. Now, you should see the "marching ants" border of the selection you made.

SelectionBox.pngMarching-Ants.pngStep Four: Change color of selection

Re-open the layer palette and select the image layer. Select the "Image" tab in the top menu and hover over "Adjustments".  Select "Color Balance" to change the color of selection. In the Color Balance box adjust the sliders for each color to change the color. I chose -100 -100 +100 to change the shirt stripes to blue.  You can also change the tone balance in the same Color Balance box, which includes color adjustments for the shadows, mid tones and highlights depending on what you are looking for. I stuck with the mid tones and you can see now the striped shirt has blue stripes. The Adjustments palette in Photoshop is very powerful and has many different options that can effect the coloring of the selection so have fun and experiment!

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