I know how to replace a color in Photoshop (by going to image -> adjustments -> replace color and selecting the color etc.) however I need to match specific Lab colors provided by my client in order to show the same product photo in a variety of different colors. Even though I put the specific Lab numbers after clicking the replacement swatch, it doesn't even come close to matching on my actual photo. The original base color of the photo makes a big difference in the end result.

Any suggestions or alternative methods on how to approach this would be much appreciated.


2 Answers 2


'Replace color' is legacy Photoshop tool and isn't among the precise ones. It is even more difficult to introduce it to the workflow because it wasn't implemented in adjustment layers. You can re-create it using modern layer approach:

  • Create a selection from source color with 'Color range' and refine it

  • Create color fill layer with destination color, current selection will be used as layer mask

  • Set its blending mode to 'Color'

This approach lacks lightness element from 'Replace color', but since it is generally not desirable to adjust the entire color range evenly, it is beneficial to make an additional level, gamma or brightness/contrast adjustment layer with the same mask to adjust the brightness manually.

It is still not quite correct to call it 'precise' method, because the results will vary greatly if you choose Lab, CMYK and RGB image mode (even if there are no gamut warnings, they all do color math differently). However, RGB will usually give you more natural results, but it is up to your and your client's taste. Take notice that you will lose level and gamma adjustment layers when converting between color modes.

  • 1
    Thanks! I just tried this but found I was still having the same issue of the color being affected by the color of the original photo and not matching. I ended up just making a layer with a destination color swatch for visual reference and adjusting hue/saturation until it looked as close as possible to the flat color swatch (then turning that layer off). With the manual adjustments you mention, I'm doing more or less the same thing you suggest. Obviously, this isn't something that can be exactly precise since I'm converting from Lab specs to RGB website photos. But I'm definitely closer now.
    – Kimley
    Mar 3, 2015 at 23:56

You'll get better results if you start by:

  • Going to Edit > Convert to Profile

  • Choosing Lab Color:

Convert to Profile dialog

Without doing this the colors will change slightly.

You're still not going to get 100% accurate results from the 'Replace Color' adjustment in my experience...

Better off to just do a straight color overlay if possible.

  • New layer

  • Fill selection with desired Lab color (after converting the document to Lab Color of course)

But I'm not sure what this person specifically was selecting so this may or may not have been feasible in that case.

Replace color can get you pretty darned close. Most people would not be able to tell anyhow (my opinion)... Might need minor adjustments.

The hard part is getting a good selection


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