I've got this image of one of our products (baby bottle nipple) and I need to change its color to Pantone 7596, which is RGB 92, 61, 49:

enter image description here

In Photoshop CS5, I first use the Magic Wand Tool to select the nipple. I copy and paste it into a new document. Then I use the Color Replacement Tool with these settings (following instructions in this article):

  • Mode: Color
  • Sampling: Continuous
  • Limits: Find Edges
  • Tolerance: 50%
  • Anti-alias: checked

However, the result doesn't look correct to my eyes:

enter image description here

This is my first time replacing an image's color. Should it be darker based on the RGB values? Or is this correct?

Here's the RGB color I'm trying to use in the image:

enter image description here

Thank you.

  • 1
    Do you need to change the color to Pantone and print this in CMYK... OR will the Pantone be used for printing? Very different techniques in that case. You'll need to use the channels of duotone mode if you need the color separation of the Pantone + CMYK.
    – go-junta
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 19:27
  • Thanks, @go-me. We've printed other items in RGB before but how would we do it if we needed CMYK?
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 19:50
  • 1
    Usually printing is in CMYK. If you get that in a catalog or boxes that are printed on Offset printing (large quantities) then it's probably CMYK. You should work in CMYK color mode, it's a bit unsafe to do color adjustment in RGB mode and then let the printer converts this to CMYK; colors in RGB are more "luminous" and bright than the ones used in standard printing. And for the pantone, you would know by asking your client or printer; there is a cost related to using an extra color for the printing!
    – go-junta
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 20:06

3 Answers 3


If you really want to do this in a "mechanical" way or if you need to print CMYK + a Pantone, there's a few ways to do it.

Here is one:

1) Make a duplicate of your file and keep the original file somewhere.

2) Make a layer mask to isolate the nipple image from the shadow; use a brush with a hardness that isn't below 85% and not 100% either. Don't use magic wand if possible, it doesn't do a nice smooth edge to your image. On my examples below, I didn't do any mask but you should.

3) Put your image to grayscale mode, then put it to Duotone mode

4) Choose a black 100% K, and your pantone. Adjust the curves in each color to fill the image with brown in the mid tones and light tones. You could use another black but be careful to not use a black that is green or blue! Make sure your values in Magenta-Yellow are higher than the Cyan-Blue. You want a black that is a bit brown.

Duotone black and Pantone in Photoshop

5) If you go in the color mode "multichannel", you'll see how the colors are shared in both channels black and Pantone. You can verify your work this way. If your printer needs to print with an extra pantone, then you can save your image in duotone mode in EPS or Multichannel in DCS2. Ask him about it.

You might also want to simply use a CMYK base and add the new pantone channel on top of your CMYK (see here)

How the image is in brown channel

How the image is in black channel

Both channels together

6) If you don't need to print with an extra pantone but only simulate it, convert your color mode back to CMYK.

Final result in CMYK mode

If this was my project, I would take the final result in CMYK, but I would use the shadow from the original image.

I didn't do this on my example but you should. This way if the light skin nipple is next to the other one, they'll have the same shadow and it will look nicer.

You don't need to use the same numbers as I did for my curves! You can add more black but be careful to not add too much in your mid tones or it will change the color of your pantone to something darker. I used the black to accentuate the shadow.

Extra suggested step if you convert to CMYK:

If you look at the dark brown part of your image on the "info" window, the Magenta and yellow are in higher value than the cyan.

But in the mid tone near the middle, these CMY values are very close and the brown can looks a bit grayish. To fix this, you can simply slightly adjust the cyan and lower its value a bit using the "levels." It will give your brown a warmer tone.

Again, don't change these values too much. You can see I removed -0.21 but usually +/- 0.20 is the max before getting in the "danger zone!" You don't need to remove as much cyan as I did.

Adjust cyan channel with levels in Adobe Photoshop

  • Thanks. What's the difference between this technique and what @MarcEdwards suggested?
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 12:37
  • Mine can be used for CMYK + 1 Pantone printing OR duotone printing since it's a real color separation. It's quite easy to update the Pantone to any other Pantone too. I also think you have more control on the tones with this technique if you want to adjust precisely the channels. As you can see, I saturated the Pantone in my example but this can be adjusted quickly with the curves; you adjust it to what seems right to you. Honestly, I don't use the gradient map much and maybe both techniques offer a precise control. I'm just more used to curves and channels since I have a prepress background.
    – go-junta
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 12:58
  • Thanks, @go-me. While adding the color from the Color Libraries, I couldn't find it in the list of Pantone colors, so I just added it using the RGB values. Does your Photoshop have that Pantone color available?
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 13:25
  • Yes, Pantones are updated often and new colors are added; I'm using the latest version of Photoshop. That's why you don't see that exact Pantone. The CMYK for it is: C45 - M68 - Y72 - K47 but your RGB is close to this too too (Hex: 5e3d32 / R94 - G61 - B50)
    – go-junta
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 13:42
  • I got the Pantone to RGB value from here: rgb.to/pantone/7596-c. Is it possible to download the latest Pantone colors for an older copy of Photoshop?
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 14:17

A method you can try in this situation is extract the bottle nipple as you did then do the following.

  1. Make the make the image black and white.

  2. Add a color fill layer above the bottle nipple layer in the color you need, make it a clipping mask and set the blend mode to multiply.

  3. Add another layer and paint a dot(in the color you need) that overlaps the bottle nipple, but doesn't fully cover it.

  4. Adjust the color of the color fill layer to match the dot's color, then when you're happy, you can delete the dot layer.

Adjust color


  • Thanks, @Polar1ty. I'm going to try this and let you know.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 17:49

A single gradient map adjustment layer will do this for you, and let you have very precise control over the colour, because you get to map values to tones. This is perfect for products where you need to match an exact colour.

Here's a really quick attempt:

enter image description here

The gradient map goes from black to Pantone 7596 (at 60% location) to white.

Gradient maps work in RGB and CMYK mode, so you can choose whatever is appropriate for your output.

  • Thanks, @MarcEdwards. Why did you choose black as the starting color and 60% as the point to switch to the Pantone color?
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 12:36

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