And now for something completely different…

Following a Twitter-based conversation about the choice of colour for a kitchen splashback and whether or not to paint the units cornflower blue, I ended up producing a quick photoshoppage of a similar kitchen to demonstrate my point. This was a technique I had used a few years ago when we were preparing to redo almost every wall in the apartment. Being a DIY freak and a graphic designer sometimes has its advantages. So I figured maybe it could be of use to someone else out there, and being that kind of selflessly generous person I decided to do a quick tutorial for the benefit of humanity. The greater good, ‘n’ all that.

Well, first things first: if you don’t have Photoshop, you can download a trial version of it from the Adobe site, or you can get a free, open-source alternative called The Gimp from here. The interface is slightly different, but the same principles apply. Also I have a rather old version of Photoshop, so the screenshots will probably not match the swanky new trial version.

Now, what you will need is a picture of the interior you want to play with. If you are redecorating a whole room, take several shots, the same colour will look different depending on the light sources etc. Remember, this technique won’t give you a perfect rendering of what the room will look like once it’s painted, many things can change the final result, including light colour, and the way other colours reflect off the paint. When we painted the hallway of our flat, we picked a light yellow from the pictures, but once it was done, the reflection of the massive green front door (that we weren’t allowed to paint) meant that the yellow looked very sickly, so we had to repaint the walls blue…

So, you have your picture on your computer, now open it up in Photoshop (File>Open). If you have never used anything like Photoshop before, you may be panicking a bit by now, but don’t worry, we won’t be using any of the fancy tools and stuff. Take a deep breath. There, better? Good.

Photoshop toolbarYou should now have your photo open in the main workspace. If you want to zoom in or out, use the magnifying glass tool, or hold down the Ctrl key and press + or -. If you have zoomed in so far that the image is larger than the window, you can move the image around by holding down the space bar and dragging with your mouse, or by using the hand tool. Now, you have the basics; the fun begins.

Select the Polygonal Lasso tool from the toolbar – click on the square marquee button and hold to get the range of selection tools, then pick the Polygonal Lasso. This will allow you to select an irregularly-shaped part of the photo by simply clicking on the angles. Try it out a few times if you have never used it before: try selecting a triangle to start with, each time you click will create a new point, then move back to the first point and when the little circle appears next to the cursor, click one last time to close the selection. Got it? Need a little video to help you? Here you go…

So now you are a lasso master, let’s try applying this to our picture… Have a good look at it and identify the part you want to play with. Now, select it with the lasso, going round the sides and trying not to miss too much (don’t worry if you don’t get every single tiny bit, remember, this isn’t for the cover of Homes & Gardens, it’s just to give a rough idea…)

Tut_layersOnce you have the area you want selected, copy it (Ctrl+C) and paste it in the same place (Ctrl+V), Photoshop should automatically put it in the same position, but on a new layer. Look at the layers panel, it should be on the right of your screen (If not press F7) you should have a first layer with your original photo and a new layer with your pasted selection. This is the layer we are going to play with, so make sure it’s selected before we move forward, or funny things will happen!

HSL boxWith your new layer selected, go to Image>Adjustments>Hue and saturation. Make sure the “Preview” box is ticked. The top slider will change the colour of the layer, the middle one will change the saturation of that colour, and the bottom one will change its lightness… This should allow you to produce most colours, just play around with it! The “Colorize” checkbox will change the results, and although it’s great fun, it probably won’t produce a very lifelike finish.

So there you have it. I would recommend saving a version whenever you achieve a colour you like (File>Save As… and select JPG in the file options.) so you can flick through them later, it’s so much easier…

A few results...

Oh, you can also use this technique to pick your hair colour, for example. You know you want to…


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