Changing a Car's Colour in Photoshop

By Rashad Nsouli | Photoshop CS3 | Beginner

This tutorial will teach you how to give a car a whole new paint job in Photoshop. We will be changing the car's color by selecting specific parts we want to paint and subtract the parts we want to leave unpainted, then we'll fill the selection with the desired paint color, apply to it various Layer Blending Modes and finally obtain our new painted car. Below is an example of what you will be achieving by the end of this tutorial.

Sample Result

Start off by opening the image of the car you want to re-color in Photoshop. I have used this image through out the tutorial, you are free to practice this tutorial using it to get similar results to the one shown above.

Raw Original Image

Selecting the Parts to be Coloured

We will start off by selecting the parts of the car which we wish to change their colour. In this sample image we are using, the part to be colored is the body of the car without the headlights. Even though we can select the part we need by using a combination of the Selection Tools found on the Tools Panel(these consist of the Marquee Tools , Lasso Tools and Magic Wand ), I think that it is easier to achieve a better result by using the Pen Tool to trace certain areas of the car into Custom Vector Shapes, then Select their Pixels and paint on them using Blending Modes. Grab your Pen Tool and start tracing out the two shapes shown in the screenshot below.

Pen Tool Settings

Tracing Shapes

Your should now have two Custom Vector Shapes in your Layers Panel, one is for the main body and one is for the headlights.

Layers Panel

Our objective is to select the body without the headlights. which means we will Select the Pixels of the body first, then Subtract the pixels of the headlights out of it, do so by holding Ctrl and clicking on the main body's layer and then holding Ctrl+Alt and click on the headlight's layer. This will subtract the headlights layer from the car body layer. You should now see that the main body is selected without the headlights as shown below.

Subtracted Selection

We are now going to start painting the car blue. Set your Background Colour to #108195 and then go through Layer>New>Layer and press Ctrl+Backspace to fill the layer with the Background Colour you chose. Access the Layers Panel then change the Layer Blending Mode to Colour and Opacity to 85%.

Color Bleding Mode

This is how your image is going to look now

Color Bleding Mode Applied

Go through Layer>New>Layer and press Ctrl+Backspace to fill the layer with the Background Color. From your Layers Panel, change the Layer Blending Mode to Soft Light and Opacity to 85%.

Soft Lght Bleding Mode

Go through Layer>New>Layer and press Ctrl+Backspace to fill the layer with the Background Colour. From your Layers Panel, change the Layer Blending Mode to Overlay and Opacity to 85%.

Overlay Blending Mode

Finally, change your Background Colour to #313841. Go to Layer>New>Layer and press Ctrl+Backspace to fill the layer with the Background Colour. From your Layers Panel, change the Layer Blending Mode to Overlay. This will make the colour look darker and vibrant.

Overlay Bleding Mode

Your final image will now look like the this. You can try out applying other colours and playing with the layers' parameters to achieve a closer result to reality.

Final Result

This concludes our tutorial, you can check my source PSD here. Make sure you show off your work in the Graphics Showcase forum. I hope that you've learnt something new from my tutorial, feel free to email me on diablo@republicofcode.com if you have any comments or questions or alternatively post in the Republic of Code Forum to get instant feedback.

- End of Tutorial