Photoshop Tutorial: Color Matching

We had a customer who wanted to see how a pair of basketball shorts looked with a particular jersey.  The only problem was that we did not have the jersey and shorts on hand in the same color.  Instead of losing time and money shipping the correct color to our main office, we took this picture with mismatching colors and changed the color of the jersey in Photoshop to match the shorts.  I am going to show you how to replace and match colors in pictures so you can use this awesome tool yourself.

Color Matching Original Image

Open your picture in Photoshop.  Save this picture and give it a new name, then open the original picture again.  You should now have two copies of the original image open.  First we are going to work with the copy that is not going to have any color changes.  We are going to call this image the Source Image.  Select as much of the shorts as possible using a selection tool.  You can use the Magic Wand, Lasso, or other selection tool.  I used the Magnetic Lasso to make my selection.  I clicked around the main section of the shorts to get as much of the red color as I could.  As you can see, it is not necessary to select all of the shorts, but you do want to get the full spectrum of color so the new coloring will be accurate.

Magnetic Lasso Tool

Selected Red Shorts

Now go back to the other image.  This is the image that you will be replacing the color on.  It is the Destination Image.  Right click on the background layer in the layers panel and select duplicate layer. 

Duplicate Layer 

By default this new layer will be called Background copy.  I am going to rename this layer Color Replace and click OK to complete the step. 

Rename Layer 

We will be working with this duplicated layer to preserve the original image. Use the selection tool of your choice to select the entire area where the color should be replaced.  Again I used the Magic Wand Tool.

Selected Blue Jersey

Now go to the file menu and choose Image>Adjustments>Match Color. 

Match Color 

The Match Color Options Window will pop up.  For this example we do not need to worry about the the three sliders under the Image Options.  Under Image Statistics, make sure the two boxes are checked.  Checking the top box means that only the area selected in the Source Image will be used for color matching instead of colors from the entire image.  The second boxed is checked indicating that only the selected area in the Destination Image will be affected.  Next to Source: select the Source Image.  You will be able to see a small picture of the Source next to the Source Image name.  Click OK.

Match Color Options

You can see that the jersey is now red instead of blue, but there is still some work to be done.  We are going to adjust the contrast of the new red jersey.  Make sure this layer is still selected in the layers panel.  In the layers panel click on Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer and select Levels. 

New Adjustment Layer

New Layer - Levels

A Histogram will appear.


There are three arrows at the bottom of the Histogram.  A black one on the left that controls the darkness of the shaded areas.  There is a gray arrow in the middle, and then a white one on the right that controls the highlights.  I am going to slide the black and white arrows inward until the contrast in the red looks how I want it to look.  If your image looks faded, this is how you fix it.  Now, in the layers panel I am going to select Luminosity so the overall color is not affected by this new layer, only the brightness of the color.


There you have it.  Here is a perfect sample picture to send to our customer.  It will be much easier for our customer to decide if they like how the jersey and shorts look together now.  With a blue top and red bottoms they were almost certain not to like the match.

Final Color Match Image



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