Adobe Photoshop® Color Match Objects Tutorial

by | May 9, 2019

Adobe Photoshop is one of the most popular image editing programs that exists in the design industry, but this design software is only as good as the person using it.

Most people using Photoshop understand there are multiple ways to achieve your results. There is no right or wrong way, but knowing the right tools saves some time and unnecessary steps to achieve the desired end goal.

In this post, we’ll demonstrate how to easily match colors of objects between different photos using the match color command. In this example, the client wants to use the picture of the gold car, but needs it to reflect the blue color, like the secondary picture. Thanks to Photoshop’s color matching tool, this is easily remedied!

This is only one way you can use the match color command. Also, depending on what images you are working with, this tool may provide spot on results, and sometimes it needs a little help.

Before getting into detail, we should mention that these tips are for intermediate Photoshop users.

Let’s Get Started

This tutorial will explain Photoshop’s color match command, which allows color matching between objects in different photos to create the end result shown in the example below. Let’s dive in.

Step 1

Open both images you’re working with in Photoshop. Select the image that requires the color change and duplicate the background layer. This allows you to work on the image while still having the original to fall back on if needed.

Tip: Keyboard Shortcuts: Ctrl+J (Windows) / Command+J (Mac)
Step 2

Create a precise selection around the object you want to match the color of, and use your preferred tool for this (Quick Selection tool, Lasso tool, Pen tool, etc.).

Step 3

Switch to the other image that has the color you want to match. Select a large area within the object of the color you need, keeping in mind that this doesn’t need to be a precise selection. The goal is to get as many shades of the color in your selection as possible. The more shades you select, the better Photoshop can match those colors to the new object. We are calling this image the “source” image.

Tip: Deselect anything that isn’t part of the colors you need. For example, the headlights, windows, grill, etc. have all been deselected.
Step 4

Now we can use the match color command after selecting the object in the original image, and the large color selection in the second. Switch back to the original image. Make sure this image is in focus by clicking the layer that has the selection in the document.

Step 5

Bring up Photoshop’s match color dialogue box by selecting the Image tab on the top menu, go to Adjustments, and click on Match Color.

Step 6

You should see a dialogue box like the image above. Make sure that the Target Image is your original image, and the Source Image is the second image you’re pulling the color from. Make sure to checkmark both boxes under the Image Statistics section. These should already be selected automatically, but double check as it ensures that Photoshop only pulls colors from selected areas.

Please note: If your Source Image has multiple layers, be sure to select the correct one under the Layers tab (e.g., Background layer, Merged layer, etc.).

Tip: If you don’t check the Image Statistic checkmarks, Photoshop will match the colors of the entire source picture to the entire target picture instead of your selected areas.
Step 7

Photoshop will try its best to match the colors, but depending on your image, it might not create the perfect color match just yet. Within the Color Match dialogue box, you can use the Image Options by adjusting the sliders below to get the correct color output. Then click OK to apply the settings.

Please note: If your Source Image has multiple layers, be sure to select the correct one under the Layers tab (e.g., Background layer, Merged layer, etc.).

Tip: Make sure the “preview” button is turned “on” so you can see the adjustments you are making.
Step 8

If you need further color adjustment or need to work on the highlights and shadows on the image (because it still looks artificial), go ahead and create a new adjustment layer and select either Levels or Curves to make your adjustments. This might shift the color, but if you change the blend mode of your adjustment layer to Luminosity (which is only affecting the brightness of the image), you’ll keep the color values.

Voila! That’s how to color match between different photos.