Adobe Creative Cloud

Matching Colors In Photoshop Part 1: Blending Modes

Every year, the Pantone Color Institute has chosen a color that reflects the current cultural climate. The Color of the Year has historically influenced trends in all facets of design, including architecture, interior décor, fashion, food, travel, and many others fields. The color chosen this year was Greenery, a yellow-green shade associated with environmentalism and nature.

In this two-part tutorial, you will learn how to match colors in Photoshop so you can create designs that are in the exact hue of Pantone’s Color of the Year.

In part one, we’ll use a basic color matching method to change the color of an object quickly and easily using blending mode and take advantage of Adobe Stock’s visual search to quickly find the right images for your projects. In part two, we will look at a more advance method that will give us better results, but it requires a few more steps.

Using Adobe Stock’s Visual Search

Let’s start by finding the right image for this project using Adobe Stock. Instead of using a regular keyword search, we will use Adobe Stock’s new visual search. This enhanced way of searching allows us to use the visual contents of an image to find another.

In this project, I would like to create a holiday themed design using green and red disposable coffee cups, isolated on a white background. Using a coffee cup and white paper, I mocked up the type of image that I’m looking for and took a photo with my cell phone.

We can now upload this file into Adobe Stock and get results that resemble this image.

Start by going to Adobe Stock, then bring up the visual search box by clicking on the camera icon in the search bar. Or you can simply drag your image on to the browser.

The search results bring up images that are visually similar to the coffee cup image we uploaded.

We can refine the search to get more specific results. Type “Holiday” in the search bar and click on the search icon. This refinement returns cups that have holiday themes. This festive coffee cup will work great for our design.

The next step is to change the color of one the cups to Greenery. We will use Adobe Photoshop CC for that.

Hover over the “Save Preview to” icon and Save it to your Creative Cloud Library. I created a library called “Tutorial Ideas” just for this project. If you are not a member of the Creative Cloud, you can download the preview to your desktop. You can then open the image as you would open any other image on your computer.

In Photoshop, you will see the image of the two red coffee cups in your Libraries panel (Window > Libraries). You can double-click on the thumbnail to open it in a new tab, or you can click and drag it onto any open document.

Click and drag the image from your Libraries Panel into any open document. If you don’t have one, go to File > New to create one.

Select The Pantone Color of The Year In Photoshop

The color that we’re going to apply onto one of the red cups is Greenery, the Pantone Color of The Year.

The first step is to select the color in Photoshop. You can use the Foreground Color Picker window for that. To open it, double-click on the foreground color from the tool bar. In the Color Picker window enter the hexadecimal color #84BD00 in the input box and press OK.

With the Greenery color selected we can start the color match!

Method 01 – Hue Blending Mode

The first method uses the Hue Blending Mode.  This Blending Mode applies color without affecting neutral grays, whites, or blacks.

This blending mode is ideal when working with Stock images that are isolated on white backgrounds since you do not have to worry about creating layer masks to contain the color within the object. For images without white backgrounds, you can use a layer mask to contain the colors to specified areas. In the advance example, we will use a mask to contain the color.

Start by creating a new layer (Layer > New > Layer…), then with the Brush Tool (B), paint over the red coffee cup on the left.

From the Layers panel, change the Blending Mode to Hue.

The cup will take the green hue, but the color will not affect the white design inside the cup. In this case, the white background includes a bit of red ambient color from the original red cup. You can of course paint that in as well.

If you look closely, you will notice that the green cup is not the same color as the Greenery color we used as a reference for the color match. The Hue Blending Mode retains the original luminosity and saturation of the original pixels, so it will never give you a true match, only a close approximation.

If you paint over the cup with the Greenery color you will see the difference.

If you would like to get a closer match, then there is an advance technique that we will cover in part two. If you are happy with your results, you can license the image directly from the Libraries panel. Simply right click on the image, and select “License Image.” Licensing an image removes the watermark and downloads the full resolution image into your Creative Cloud Library.

This workflow is a huge advantage over other stock image vendors. With Adobe Stock you get to quickly find, tryout images, and license only what works.

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