How to change white to color in Photoshop, and colorize black

How to change White to color in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial , I’m going to show you how to change white to a color, or black to a color in Photoshop. Colour if you live outside the USA.


We’ll colorize our photo in just a sec.

First we will start with this image which is 1/2 black and 1/2 white, so you can clearly see how this works.

change white to color in photoshop

Click the adjustment layer in the Layers panel and choose Hue/Saturation.

change white to colour in photoshop

In the Properties panel, click on the colorize button.

Notice when you move the Hue and the Saturation, nothing happens.

change black to color in photoshop 2021

This is because Black is 0 and White is 255. (There are no values to change in black, and white is already fully exposed).

In plain English, you can’t shift the color of Black or White because there is no color to change. (Technically, white is all colors combined, but we are keeping this simple).

tonal range in Photoshop

The key to all of this is the Lightness slider.

I have seen people use this slider to lighten or darken images, please don’t do that, use levels or curves to change brightness of your images. The Lightness slider has a different purpose.

how to get batter colors in photoshop

Turn black into color

If we increase the lightness, black is no longer black and it can now display color.


colorize white

Change the hue to change the color and Saturation to change the amount of color

change black to color in a photo

Change White to a color

If you move the Lightness towards the left, it darkens the white and allows it to show color.

Changing white to color

Change the color on a photograph from white to color

Let’s apply what we have discovered to a photo. We will change the color of the shirt from white to a color.

Choose the layer with the t shirt selected (Ill show you how to isolate that at the end, so as not distrtact from the purpose of the tutorial, which is colorizing).

Add a Hue Saturation adjustment layer (click on the Adjustment layer in and Layers Panel).

change white to colour in photoshop

In the Properties panel, click the little arrow at the bottom of the panel

how to clip in PS

This will make the Adjustment affect only the layer beneath and not all layers beneath the adjustment.

original coloir

Notice as we move the hue and saturation, you’ll see a little color. This is because there is no pure black or white in the real world, there is always some color.

Also notice, it’s really grainy looking.

colorizing a shirt

Click the colorize button in Hue/Saturation

This will clean up the noise and allow us to change the color.

Maybe you have noticed, you can only get pastel colors and not strong color.

change color of shirt

Move the lightness slider to the left, and now you can get nice, strong colors.

change color of clothing in photoshop

You can dial in any color like this.

coloirizing textiles digitlly

Turn white into black

If you want to turn white into black, lower the saturation and brightness to a very low amount. Still allow the shadow to show for realism.

change white to black

Change the color on a photograph from black to color

Let me show you how to change black to a color.

We will change the color of her skirt. It’s won’t look good color matching wise, because black is a good color choice, but you will see how it works.

With the skirt isolated (ill show you how at the end), choose a hue/saturation adjustment layer.

clipping adjustment layer

Increase the brightness and you can now change the color with Hue and Saturation.

change color of skirt


You can use Hue Saturation to change colors without making any selections, here is the tutorial. 

Let me show you how to select white or black.

Selecting White and black in Photoshop

Choose Select>Color Range

Select: Highlights

selecting white in photoshop

As you move the range, Photoshop will narrow the tones to the brightest areas. The fuzziness will refine the selection.

make selection

If you want to select the darkest parts of the image, choose Shadows from the Select menu instead.

In depth tutorial for making selections with color range

how to select black in photoshop

I hope you found this week’s Photoshop tutorial useful. Don’t forge to watch the video for additional tips.

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