I'm on Photoshop 2021. (Not Elements. Not Lightroom.)

I have a .webp drawing with an object, parts of which are in a particular color (at the moment, a blue).

(The image started out as a .PDF; I thought maybe my problem was the PDF being messed up so I saved it as a .webp. It doesn't seem to make any difference.)

At the bottom of the image I've got a palette of about 40 possible colors at the for the stuff currently in blue. I want to quickly replace all the blue stuff in the drawing with a color from the palette, to see what looks best. (I mean to try all 40 colors, ideally by clicking with the eyedropper to select each one.)

How do I do that in Photoshop? I've tried this:

  1. Select area of image to be changed (the whole upper half of the image, which contains the drawing, part of which is blue).

  2. Image>Adjustments>Replace Color... Preview is on.

  3. I click on the Color: swatch, then in a blue part of the drawing (to sample the color to be changed). I set Fuzziness to 0 (this does seem to select the parts of the drawing I want to change).

  4. I double-click on the Result swatch to get the Color Picker for the result color. That gives me an eyedropper cursor.

  5. I click the eyedropper on one of the palette colors. I want and expect that to change the blue things in the drawing to the sampled palette color.

It kind of does, EXCEPT THAT THE REPLACEMENT COLOR DOESN'T MATCH THE PALLETE COLOR. Instead the replaced area gets a nearby color that's (generally) less saturated. Clicking OK or APPLY doesn't help (colors stay the same as in Preview).

For example, if I click on pure white (255, 255, 255), I get a grey (229, 229, 229).

I've been struggling and Googling for a few hours now. I even tried installing GIMP to see if I could do it there and had a similar problem.


Added: Here's a small part of the image I'm working with. At the top you can see some of the (rather dark) blue stuff, at the bottom a couple of the palette colors (yellow and burgundy).

Image clip

  • Chances are the "selection" is not solid and is mixing with unselected areas, causing a color shift. You can't see selected areas if the pixel is less than 50% opaque. I'd wager Fuzziness at 1 or 2% will change the color further. If the image "came from a PDF" is it a raster image or a vector image in the PDF? What you are trying would be much easier if the PDF image is vector in nature.
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 19:29
  • @Scott That makes sense. I don't know how the PDF was originally generated. Is there a way to tell Photoshop to select not only the maching colors but also a small fuzzy surrounding area (even if a distant color)? Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 19:40
  • @Scott Alas, that doesn't seem to be it. I can zoom in to 1000% and see individual pixels - they're all the same solid color. I'm adding a small sample of the image to my question. Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 19:45
  • Try to open the PDF in Illustrator. If you expand the layers panel you can see is there editable vector shapes. To make such edits you may need to make several ungroupings and clipping mask removals. No guarantee, everything can still be bitmaps in a PDF and they can be splintered to unmanageable pieces.
    – user82991
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 19:48
  • 2
    I'm not an Inkscape user myself, but it should be possible to do like I would do in Illustrator: Select an object with blue fill color, select all objects with the same fill color, select a color for them (not sure how eyedropper works in inkscape). And then, if necessary, repeat with stroke color. Those are two different attributes.
    – Wolff
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


I would use a different approach.

  1. Using the Polygon/Lasso Select tools, make a rough selection around at least one of the objects whose colour you wish to change.

  2. Apply a new Hue-saturation adjustment layer, select the Colorize Option, and adjust the hue, saturation, and lightness sliders until you get the desired colour. Obviously, this may require a bit of trial and error if you are trying to match a specific colour.

This will produce a layer mask, i.e. the black and white thumbnail you can see in the layers panel, which effectively applies the adjustment only to the area you selected.

For example, here I selected around the circular shape at the top, then applied the Hue-Saturation adjustment layer.

enter image description here

  1. To add the colour change to more parts of the image, select the Layer Mask thumbnail in the layers panel, and using the Paint Brush, paint in solid white on the layer mask to apply the adjustment to additional areas of the image.

enter image description here

  • Thanks, but using HSL sliders defeats the purpose of seeing how the colors in the palette will look. The whole idea here is to recolor the blue stuff to match each of the 40 or so palette colors. Having to fiddle with HSL knobs and try to match colors by eye is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 22:43
  • @nerdfever.com Yeah, sure I get it. But if you try to rely on the replace colour adjustment it won't create such a nice result. You will get messy pixels around the edge where the image has anti-aliasing. At least this method avoids that problem. I realise this isn't a perfect method by any means, but it's better than replace colour which is actually better suited to photographic images rather than images like yours. The best way would really be to do this in vector software. Photoshop isn't really the right kind of software for this.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 22:50

Not the cleanest way but seems perfect for testing colours out:

– Select Illustration layer
– In the main menu "Select / Colour Range"
– Sample the colour you want to replace
– Increase "fuzziness" quite high, this will make sure you have no edges, but might also take other colours if too high.
– Now you should have a selection of the colour
– Then in the layers panel add a new Solid colour.
– Just doubleclick on the layer icon and you can change colour or sample from somewhere.

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