Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

As Jude Stewart wrote over on PRINT about Pantone’s Color of the Year (COTY) Greenery (Pantone 15-0343), the COTY never fails to provoke “debate, inquiry, delight in some quarters, inspiration in others, with a reliable sprinkling of outrage: at the color chosen that year, at the very premise of a ‘Color of a Year,’ at whatever creative conspiracy theories certain curmudgeons like to nurse.”


[Related: 10 Things You Might Not Know About the Color Green | A Magical, Turbulent History of the Color Green]

Well, those of us rather inspired by the yellow-green hue will be delighted to see that Greenery is the star of Adobe’s latest tutorial—a two-parter teaching us how to match colors in Photoshop so that we can create designs in the exact hue of Pantone’s Color of the Year (or any other color, for that matter).

HOW is excited to share part 1 of this tutorial below. In it, Jesús Ramirez, a digital graphics expert and online educator specializing in Adobe Photoshop, shows us how to take advantage of Adobe Stock’s visual search to find the perfect images. Then, he walks us through a basic color-matching method to quickly and easily change the color of an object using blending mode.

Let’s dive in!

The following tutorial was written by Jesús Ramirez and also appears on Adobe’s blog.

Using Adobe Stock’s Visual Search

Let’s start by finding the right image for this project using Adobe Stock. Instead of using a regular keyword search, we will use Adobe Stock’s new visual search. This enhanced way of searching allows us to use the visual contents of an image to find another.

In this project, I would like to create a holiday-themed design using green and red disposable coffee cups, isolated on a white background. Using a coffee cup and white paper, I mocked up the type of image that I’m looking for and took a photo with my cell phone.


We can now upload this file into Adobe Stock and get results that resemble this image.

Start by going to Adobe Stock, then bring up the visual search box by clicking on the camera icon in the search bar. Or you can simply drag your image on to the browser.

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

The search results bring up images that are visually similar to the coffee cup image we uploaded.

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

We can refine the search to get more specific results. Type “Holiday” in the search bar and click on the search icon. This refinement returns cups that have holiday themes. This festive coffee cup will work great for our design.

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

The next step is to change the color of one the cups to Greenery. We will use Adobe Photoshop CC for that.

Hover over the “Save Preview to” icon and Save it to your Creative Cloud Library. I created a library called “Tutorial Ideas” just for this project. If you are not a member of the Creative Cloud, you can download the preview to your desktop. You can then open the image as you would open any other image on your computer.

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

In Photoshop, you will see the image of the two red coffee cups in your Libraries panel (Window > Libraries). You can double-click on the thumbnail to open it in a new tab, or you can click and drag it onto any open document.

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

Click and drag the image from your Libraries Panel into any open document. If you don’t have one, go to File > New to create one.

Select The Pantone Color of The Year In Photoshop

The color that we’re going to apply onto one of the red cups is Greenery, the Pantone Color of The Year.

The first step is to select the color in Photoshop. You can use the Foreground Color Picker window for that. To open it, double-click on the foreground color from the tool bar. In the Color Picker window enter the hexadecimal color #84BD00 in the input box and press OK.

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

With the Greenery color selected we can start the color match!

Method 01: Hue Blending Mode

This method uses the Hue Blending Mode.  This Blending Mode applies color without affecting neutral grays, whites or blacks.

This blending mode is ideal when working with Stock images that are isolated on white backgrounds because you don’t have to worry about creating layer masks to contain the color within the object. For images without white backgrounds, you can use a layer mask to contain the colors to specified areas. In the advance example, we will use a mask to contain the color.

Start by creating a new layer (Layer > New > Layer…), then with the Brush Tool (B), paint over the red coffee cup on the left.

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

From the Layers panel, change the Blending Mode to Hue.

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

The cup will take the green hue, but the color will not affect the white design inside the cup. In this case, the white background includes a bit of red ambient color from the original red cup. You can of course paint that in as well.

If you look closely, you will notice that the green cup is not the same color as the Greenery color we used as a reference for the color match. The Hue Blending Mode retains the original luminosity and saturation of the original pixels, so it will never give you a true match, only a close approximation.

If you paint over the cup with the Greenery color you will see the difference.

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

If you would like to get a closer match, then there’s an advanced technique that we will cover in part two. [Click here for part 2.] If you are happy with your results, you can license the image directly from the Libraries panel. Simply right click on the image, and select “License Image.” Licensing an image removes the watermark and downloads the full-resolution image into your Creative Cloud Library.

This workflow is a huge advantage over other stock image vendors. With Adobe Stock you get to quickly find and try out images, and license only what works.

Jesús Ramirez is a digital graphics expert, and online educator specializing in Adobe Photoshop. He is the founder of the Photoshop Training Channel, one of the most popular Photoshop YouTube channels in the world. Jesús is also an Adobe Community Professional who is passionate about teaching the creative community.

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2 thoughts on “Photoshop Tutorial: Using Blending Modes to Match Colors

  1. Meghan_bligen

    Hello, my name is Meghan Bligen. I’m a 21 year old student at Johnson C. Smith University majoring in Visual and Performing Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design.