Selective Color Adjustments in Photoshop CC

Ever have a black element that you want to change to a different color for your layout? You have tried all of the normal things… color overlay, adding a solid color over it and then trying to use a blend mode to make it work, or even inversing the black object to white and then trying to color that… all to no avail. Sure it may work sometimes, but it really doesn’t do a great job.  If so, then here is your quick tip answer!


In the past I have used “Selective Color” Adjustment for red eye correction, but I was amazed to find out I can change a black object to a color in Photoshop CC just by adding a selective color adjustment layer.


Let’s begin!

Start with a new workspace with a white solid background.

I am going to start easy with just a black colored circle:

Using the Elliptical Marquee tool, make a round circle. Fill with Black (Hex Code = 000000)


Once you have your black circle, go to your layer pallet and click on the adjustment layer icon, and choose Selective Color from the fly out menu. (It will be at the bottom.)


Choose the Adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the layer pallet. The Adjustment layer will need to be clipped to the layer you want to change. (In the above layer pallet picture, 2 black circles are reflected. The Selective Color adjustment layer is clipped to the top one.)



When the Selective Color window opens “Preset” should be left at “Default”.  Change “Colors” to Blacks. (At the bottom of the window is a box with an arrow. If you check that, it will clip your adjustment layer to your item, so you affect that layer only, not other layers below that may have black in them.)


There are 4 slider areas… Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. For each slider if you slide to the left and/or the right, it will affect the black object, changing the color. Experiment and have fun.


Cyan, Magenta & Yellow adjusting together at different levels will adjust the colors. It is fun playing to see what  color it makes. Experiment with the sliders until you get the color you want.  The Black color slider adjusts the lightness and darkness of the color.


Here is a sample of what I did with the black circle:



Now let’s use an element and change color. For example this soccer ball:





And a ribbon:





I would suggest changing the color prior to shadowing as the shadow will also change color.


[Note: This can be done with hue and colorizing but it will affect the entire image not just the areas that are black. There is no way to select just black in the hue adjustment layers window.]


Here is a page I made with a few changes to black in the paper and the heart… the kit I am using is a Studio Basic Designs Freebie Mini kit: Kindness Matters from the Digi Scrap Parade giveaway. (It can be found on her Facebook page here: )


I have changed these items from the black to the deep turquoise coloring:




Now for the completed page:





And there it is. I hope that you have found this useful, and that it will allow you to stretch your stash!


Until next time!

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  • Joann September 1, 2017   Reply →

    photo elements doesn’t have selective color so is there a way to do this PE?

    • Yobeth Puckett September 2, 2017   Reply →

      The short answer is yes. The steps are different depending on what type element you’re recoloring and whether they’re textured or not. I think it would require a separate tutorial.

  • Lori September 1, 2017   Reply →

    I found this so useful! Thank you for this detailed tutorial.

  • Joann September 2, 2017   Reply →

    thanks I was just wondering.

  • Linda Lockhart September 16, 2017   Reply →

    It would be so handy to be able to colour black objects in Photoshop Elements. Any chance of a tutorial on how to do it? Would be much appreciated.

  • Mimi Desaujon December 14, 2017   Reply →

    Merci beaucoup pour ce tuto très utile

  • Christa File December 14, 2017   Reply →

    I will see if perhaps Yobeth or another one of the ladies here can do a PSE tutorial for you all. I am more fluent in Photo Shop so unfortunately I don’t know the work around for PSE.

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