Coloring Images

Created as a Quick Guide in 2003 Copyright SuzShook
Made a "Version-Independent" Tutorial March 2009
Property of SuzShook

This tutorial is my own creation;
however, most of the techniques used in this tutorial, I have learned from others!
Therefore, if you recognize any contribution you have made, I thank you!
And I thank you as well for respecting this as my work by not posting it,
in whole or in part,
in any other location without written permission from me!

Individuals and PSP graphics groups are invited to share my tutorials with others with TEXT LINKS ONLY.
You can e-mail me to let me know you are adding one or more of my tutorials to your list if you like -
it's always fun to know who is doing them!

This tutorial was originally published as a Quick Guide in 2003. With the demise of the Quick Guide capability in PSP, this Quick Guide is being re-published as a mini-tutorial!

This tutorial will show you how to change the color of an image while retaining the shading and color nuances. The same sample image provided will be used for all five coloring techniques. It is a two-layered image with a black background and a sinedots creation on the Raster 1 layer. All these methods retain the shades and diaphanous effects of the original image.

I make my tutorials as brief as possible, without the customary paths, details, and how-to's. For those veterans among you, this will be welcome! But for those less familiar with PSP, I included a "Glossary" that contains all the details omitted in the tutorial. If you need a little extra help, check the Glossary section. Just click on the button below - the Glossary will open in a new window.

PSP glossary button

This tutorial assumes you have a working knowledge of Paint Shop Pro at the intermediate level (or advanced beginner level with the Glossary). It was originally written in and for PSP Version 7, then revised for PSP 8, and now made "version-independent". Screen shots for this tutorial can come from any version of PSP - where there are significant differences from version to version, a green "Version Note" will be included, along with multiple screen shots if necessary.

Where a note/tip refers to a version of PSP and all higher versions, a + sign will be used to indicate this. For example, if a note/tip applies to PSP X and higher versions, I will use the convention "PSP X+".

If you try this tutorial, and find something is inaccurate for your version of PSP, please EMAIL ME to let me know so I can fix it!

Screen shots in this tutorial are resized - your work will be larger than this!

Supplies - For this tutorial, you will need the following:
  • Paint Shop Pro - any version. The latest version of PSP can be found at the Corel site HERE.

  • The PSP sample image provided for this for this tutorial - you can get it HERE. ~ ~ Unzip into the folder where you keep your current PSP work.

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Ok, now we're ready to begin! Grab your mouse and let's get started!

Remember to save often!

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Open the sample image distributed with this tutorial ($sample.pspimage). Copy the image and close the original - you'll need it to test each of the six coloring methods described in this tutorial, so save the original image. Here's what the test image looks like:

sample image

Making sure the Raster 1 layer containing the sinedots image is active, select all (choose Selections...Select All, or CTRL + A).

Choose the Selection tool selection tool (S), resetting ALL values to default settings. If you've set the Tool Options correctly, the cursor will look like a four-headed arrow cursor when moved over the image:

selection cursor
Note: I intentionally did not use the Float command to float the image. For some reason, that command tends to either darken or lighten the image.

Click within the selection to float the sinedots image. Here's the floating selection:

floating image

Choose the Flood Fill tool flood fill tool (F). On the Tool Options palette, make sure Match Mode is set to None, Blend Mode is set to Normal, and Opacity is set it to 100%.

Choose a Foreground color - I chose #FF00FF. Apply color to the floating selection using the Flood Fill tool. You'll see that the shades and diaphanous effect of the original image are preserved when you float the selection before coloring. You may need to adjust the opacity for some images. Deselect to remove the marquee and reveal the results.

colored image

You can also fill with gradients or patterns using this method. Some gradients look better after multiple applications.


For the second coloring method, you'll need another copy of the sample image distributed with this tutorial. Open that image again and make a copy, or undo all the changes made to the image in STEP 1.

Choose the Flood Fill tool flood fill tool (F), with the same settings as in STEP 1.

Choose a Foreground color - I chose #FFFF00. In this second colorizing method, we lock the layer transparency before filling. Locking the transparency protects the transparent areas of the layer - any tools or effects apply only to areas of the raster layer with data. On the "Raster 1" layer, click on the Lock Transparency button ( lock transparency button - off ) to lock transparency - it should look like this when locked: lock transparency button - on .

Version Note: In PSP 8 and 9, the Lock Transparency "padlock" looks like this when transparency is not locked ( lock transparency button - off ), and like this when transparency is locked ( lock transparency button - on ).

Apply color to the image using the Flood Fill tool. Depending on the image, you may want to lower the Opacity value for the Flood Fill tool before using this method. Experiment to see what works best for you. Here's my finished image:

colored image
Note: When you are finished, don't forget to unlock the layer transparency (by clicking on the Lock Transparency button again. Otherwise, you may get some unpredictable results!

Like the method used in STEP 1, you can also fill with gradients or patterns using this method.


For the third coloring method, you'll need another copy of the sample image distributed with this tutorial. Open that image again and make a copy, or undo all the changes made to the image in STEP 2.

Another way to change the color of an image is to use the Colorize dialog. To use this colorizing method, choose Adjust...Hue and Saturation...Colorize (or SHIFT + L). Using the Hue and Saturation sliders, you can change the colors easily. For this image, I used a Hue of 93 and a Saturation of 255:

colored image


Another method that often works very well to colorize images is the Hue/Saturation/Lightness dialog. This method is used to shift all the colors of an image or selection and change their strength and luminance. It takes some practice to use efficiently, but provides a great colorizing method. As before, make another copy of the sample image to test this coloring method.

To use this method, choose Adjust...Hue and Saturation...Hue/Saturation/Lightness (or SHIFT + H). I set the Hue to 100, Saturation to 100, and Lightness to 0 for this image:

colored image

Click OK to apply the color change.


For this coloring method, we'll use one of the Retouch tools. As before, make another copy of the sample image to test this coloring method. Then select the Change to Target Brush tool change to target brush.
Note: This tool is part of a tool flyout and may be hidden behind any of the tools contained in the flyout - the most recently used tool will be the one visible.

On the Tool Options palette, choose a Round brush tip and change the Size to about 100, the Hardness to 75, the Opacity and Density to 100, and the Mode to Color. Choose a Foreground color - for this step, I chose #31CDFD.

This method changes pixels based on a characteristic of the current Foreground color (on the Materials palette) - color, hue, saturation or lightness. Since we've chosen the color as the target, the tool will apply the Foreground color (or the Background color, if you use the right mouse button) without affecting the luminance. Adjusting the other values in the Tool Options palette adds further variation to the colorizing. Give it a try now - here's my finished image:

colored image

You can also fill with gradients or patterns using this method. Experiment with different settings for Hardness, Density, and Opacity for interesting results.


Make another copy of the sample image to test this coloring method.

PSP XI introduced a new tool for coloring images called the Color Changer color changer tool.

Note: Unfortunately, this tool's icon is almost identical to the one for the Color Replacer tool, so it is very difficult to distinguish one from the other. Your best bet is to be attentive to the tooltip when selecting this tool, to be sure you have the correct tool.

This tool does a great job of changing the color of an element in a photo while preserving the shading and luminosity of the original color. To recolor using the Color Changer tool, position the Color Changer cursor over the color you want to change in the image, and then left-click to recolor with the Foreground/Stroke color, or right-click to recolor with the current Background/Fill color.

If you want to change the recoloring color, click another color in the Materials palette before clicking Apply. You can also adjust the the color you have chosen by changing the Tolerance and Edge Softness settings in the Color Replacer tool Tool Options palette before clicking Apply.

Once you have the recoloring you want, click Apply to prevent further changes when colors are changed in the Materials palette. Here's a sample of my finished image, after setting the Foreground to #BC01FF, and adjusting both Tolerance and Edge Softness to 50:

colored image
Note: This recoloring method works with color only, and not with patterns or gradients. But one of its greatest advantages is that it works with whites and blacks, something the other color changing methods don't always do so well!

Hope you have enjoyed this tutorial as much as I did creating it!

If you have any problems, comments, or questions, please do not hesitate to Email me.


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All graphics and content 2002-present by SuzShook