Deke’s Techniques 033: Changing the Color of a Car

Have you ever noticed that an awful lot of Photoshop experts spend an awful lot of time doing an awful lot of stuff to pictures of cars? As an equal-opportunity image editor, I’ve never quite understood the car fixation. (I own a Jeep. So, seriously, I’m lucky to put gas in the damn thing.) “But, you know,” I thought one enlightened afternoon, “Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the guy who’s spending too much time on image stacks and 3D type and ink drawings and synthetic starfields and artificial wood grain and stereoscopic imagery and fake monsters. Maybe I should jump in a jalopy, roll down the windscreen, and edit a car.”

And so this week I have. In fact, I do the most typical thing imaginable: I change a car’s color. Only in the least typical, and most reliable, way that there is.

Here’s the official description from

In this week’s Deke’s Technique, Deke McClelland shows you how to change the color of a car in Photoshop. I know what you’re thinking (if you’re a seasoned Photoshop user and/or classic car online sales guru): “Targeted adjustment tool plus Hue/Saturation, and I can change anything that’s not the same color as anything else.” But how often does that work? According to Deke, it often leaves something to be desired. So in this week’s technique, Deke gives you a nuanced approach for changing that car from everyday, empty-calorie-candy-apple red to rich, worth-its-weight-in gold. The key is making a quick, but essential, mask.

And in this case, the key to the mask is the impeccably named but often overlooked Color Range command. If Photoshop can “see” what’s red, then you can use Photoshop’s “vision” to create a mask that lets you apply your hue adjustment in a more controlled way. Then you can colorize the isolated red of the car and change it to a purer gold. In the end, your custom set of wheels goes through this transformation:

Changing a car from bright red to lustrous gold

It’s Deke giving you the keys to a customized set of wheels, free to all in this week’s complimentary technique. And for members of the Online Training Library, Deke’s members-exclusive video shows you how to take that red car and make it a deep, mysterious black, while retaining all the shine and sass. Check this puppy out:

Changing a car from bright red to shiny jet black

Every week, a free technique from Deke!

On second thought, that’s it for me and cars. Next week, it’s me and zebras. Sure, that sounds a bit weird. But, really, which would you rather ride?

Next entry:Cookin’ with Camera Raw: The Basics and Beyond

Previous entry:Up and Running with Photoshop for Design


  • Martini Glass turned into three each with a different colour.

    I just signed up for and noticed an image of a martini glass (Black and White) with I believe water on the ground. I went to to purchase the image to try out the technique. But when I came back the next day to (Deke Pod I believe) the technique was NOT there any more. Does anybody know where I can find the video on how to turn the single image into three martini glasses all with different water inside each glass?

    Mark Hyttinen

    Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

  • Colorful martini glasses

    I believe the article you’re looking for is located here.

    Just so’s you know, there’s a search field in the top-right corner of the site. I entered “martini glasses” and came up with this post. Not trying to call you out. Hell, I don’t even remember writing this article! Just trying to help one and all with future searches.

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