Learn how to recolor line art in Photoshop and how to change the colors very easily.

This video shows the use of the Lock Transparent Pixels option in the Layers Palette in Photoshop and also a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.


Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how you can recolor your art in Photoshop. In this video tutorial we’re going to have a look and see how we could recolor this car and how we can do it in a way that would allow us to perhaps change the colors later on.

I’ve got the car on one layer here and the background which is white on another layer. So I’m going to add a layer between these two layers where I can start painting my colors. I’m going to select one of these color schemes that in an earlier video I created from Kuler and I’m going to just grab my toolbar here so that I can grab a paintbrush and a relatively hard paintbrush, not totally hard but relatively hard. I think I’ll just back it off a little bit here to about 84 percent. And on this layer I’m going to start laying down paint. I’ve got my opacity right down from another job that I was doing so let’s just kick that up.

Now I’m just going to paint over the areas where I want the paint to be. And how detailed you are with this and how accurate you are with it depends on just what sort of effect you want. Now I don’t want it to be quite so accurate so while I am going to erase a little bit of this I’m not going to erase all of it because I do want some over-painting. Now I could leave this layer underneath but you’ll see that there is a little bit of white there that’s showing through. I can get rid of this by going to this layer here and setting its blend mode to darken and that will darken the areas but will let the white pixels blend in with the layer below. I think that gives me a better result.

So let’s go now and let’s get another color in this color palette and let’s just go and paint here. And I’m just going to pick the paintbrush up rather than the eraser and let’s Just paint in these areas. Again depending on what sort of effect I want I may be more or less accurate and I can always come back with the eraser and just tidy up if I want to. Most of these areas of the image are also trapped so if I wanted to I could just make a selection from the original image and pour paint into them. But I don’t really want that effect for this image. I just want it to be a little bit more organic than that. And I’m going to add the orange to various portions of the image but I’m going to do it all on this one layer. So that means that later on I can come back and replace the orange with another color and every element that was orange will be replaced accordingly. So let’s just go here. I think I’ve got a slight problem with my green. So I’m just going to continue until I have my car painted to my satisfaction and then we’ll come back and see how we would recolor it.

Now I’ve finished painting the car and I’m ready to go ahead now and have a look at my options for recoloring it. One of the ways I can change the color of this image is to click on the topmost layer and choose Layer, New Adjustment Layer, Hue/Saturation. And this allows me to recolor the entire image just using a single adjustment layer. So I’m just going to drag here and then if I drag around on this color selector here you can see that all of the colors bar that sort of gray color are now changing. And they’re changing in the same relationship to each other. So that’s one of the options I have for recoloring this vehicle is to just adjust the hue/saturation of the entire image using a hue/saturation adjustment

layer and just stopping when I get to the color scheme that I want to use for example.

Now another alternative is if I want to just selectively recolor areas because I put each of these colors on a different layer I can then just change those layers. So for example let’s go and pick up another Kuler color scheme. I’m in beach ball but that doesn’t really matter too much. Let’s go and get this beach combo color scheme from Kuler. And if you haven’t yet watched my Kuler video and if you want to know how to do this then I suggest that you go and have a look at it.


Now my mouse and my video tool aren’t running very well together right now so I’m having a bit of trouble selecting this. Ok, it’s now in the Swatches panel. So I’m going to go ahead and select this blue color as my foreground color. And I want to replace this color green with the blue. Now what I’m going to do is because there’s a lot of detail on this layer and I want to replace the whole lot, I’m just going to lock the pixels on that layer. And what happens when I lock the pixels is if now I press Alt and Backspace, Option Delete on the Mac, what I’m doing is flooding just the filled pixels on this layer with that Color and so now that layer has been recolored. I’m going to select this layer and lock the pixels on it and pick up a color to use for it and then I’ll Alt Backspace, Option Delete on the Mac, to change its color.

And finally I’m going to lock the pixels on this layer and let’s go and get a color to use for that. We’ll choose this darker blue, Alt Backspace, Option Delete. Of course these layers are now locked so if I want to be able to edit them for example erasing any excess paint or making any changes to them, I’ll need to unlock them. But this Lock Transparent Pixels tool allows you to quickly isolate the contents of a layer, select a color to use for it and just Alt Backspace, Option Delete on the Mac, to immediately select and refill all the pixels on that layer.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. If you liked this tutorial please give it a thumbs up and feel free to comment on it. Please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and visit me at projectwoman.com for more tips, tricks and tutorials on Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, Illustrator, GIMP and a whole lot more.

Helen Bradley