Deke’s Techniques 238: Colorizing with a Photoshop Layer Effect

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke quickly colorizes these cold, spooky woods with a simple layer effect.

image to be colorized

Turning them into the equally foreboding but nicely warmed background we’ve been seeing for the past few weeks as the landing spot of his alien creatures. Because it’s a well-known fact that our flesh-eating alien overlords like a nice warm environment from which to plan their dominance and consumption of earthlings.

Rather than using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer this transformation is the result of a simple, but not-often-used layer effect: Color Overlay. Here’s the basic process Deke uses in the video:

Start by selecting the layer to be colorized, click on the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose Color Overlay:

Your image will be flooded with the default opaque red. I’m convinced seeing their images covered with this harsh color is the main reason Color Overlay’s lack of popularity. Click on that offending swatch in the Layer Style dialog box to choose a better hue.

layer style dialog box

In Deke’s case, he uses a nice rich brown, created from a Hue of 2 degrees, Saturation of 1 percent, and a Brightness value of 5 percent. Click OK to escape the Color Picker.

color picker

Back in the Layer Style dialog box, change the blend mode to Overlay (or whatever might be appropriate for your project).

And the result is a quickly colorized photo created with nary a color slider in sight. Come to think of it the alien is missing too. Uh oh. Well if we survive, I’ll see you next week with another Deke’s Techniques.

If I don’t survive, remember that you can find the entire collection of Deke’s Techniques at, including several member-exclusive videos. If you’re not a member of, you can get a free week’s trial at See you next week. I hope.

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