Change color in Photoshop with Gradient Maps

How to change color in Photoshop using Gradient Maps

How to change colour in Photoshop using Gradient Maps

As the saying goes “A leopard can’t change his spots, nor a zebra its stripes”. But there are lots of ways to change color in Photoshop, and one of the most effective is through the use of Gradient Maps.

Not only does this give you the option to remap colors in any way you choose, it also allows you to choose different shades at any time. Here’s how to use them.

How to change colour in Photoshop using Gradient Maps: before image

01 Add Gradient Map
Open your ‘before’ image – in our case it’s this image of a zebra – and hit D to reset your colors to black and white. Click the Create Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and choose Gradient Map.

How to change colour in Photoshop using Gradient Maps: step 1

Next, click the gradient preview in the Adjustments Panel to enter the Gradient Editor.

How to change colour in Photoshop using Gradient Maps: step 2

02 Remap the colours
Choose the first preset in the list ‘foreground to background’, then double-click on the white block to the lower right of the black to white gradient preview. Choose a deep red color then hit OK to apply.

How to change colour in Photoshop using Gradient Maps: step 3

03 Add blue and yellow
Hide the red layer then add a further two more Gradient Map Adjustment Layers in the same way, choosing blue and yellow tones. Now double-click the layer name of each and rename them after their colors.

How to change colour in Photoshop using Gradient Maps: step 4

04 Invert the masks
Reveal all the layers then click on the mask thumbnail of each of the Gradient Map layers and hit Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert it. This fills the mask with black, hiding the colour change. We’re now ready to paint back in the colors.

How to change colour in Photoshop using Gradient Maps: step 5

05 Reveal the red
Click on the red layer’s mask, then grab the Brush tool and choose a soft-edged circular brush tip. Set your foreground color to white, then paint over one of the stripes to reveal the red. Continue painting over every third stripe.

How to change colour in Photoshop using Gradient Maps: step 6

06 Paint the rest
Paint with white on the other two masks to reveal the other colors. If you go wrong, hit X to flip your colour to black and 
paint to hide the color. If you want to tweak colours at any time, double-click the layer thumbnail and adjust the gradient.

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