Color swap - Changing color on product photography

In this article I will explain some of the difficulties, advantages and cases when changing the color of a product is better done in Photoshop and when it is better to photograph all colours.

I selected a few jobs where I had to use this technique. The first one is these masks. The client asked that each mask be exactly in the same place. This is one time when this technique should be considered.

This photo is un-retouched, so you can see what the product looks like without any adjustment.

Masks with multiple colours - Unretouched
Masks with multiple colours - Unretouched

The color-swap technique works better when we have "simple" colors. That means if the blue is very blue, red is very red and so on. Complex or mixed colours such as yellowish-green may be harder to change than one that is super yellow or super green. This is true when we decide to use the colour as the basis of the selection in Photoshop (Select+color range). Photoshop may not be able to select all areas we need.

The most used Photoshop technique is to mask the area of color and change the hue of that using an adjustment layer. In photoshop we can adjust the hue (color), saturation (how much color) and luminosity (how bright/light or dark). When we adjust the luminosity, in most adjustment layers, it affects a lot the saturation of the colours. When you make an image darker, the colours look more intense. So, the final result in many cases requires a combination of small adjustments one on top of the other.

Layers in Photoshop 1
Layers in Photoshop 1
Layers in Photoshop 2
Layers in Photoshop 2
Layers in Photoshop 3
Layers in Photoshop 3

Another technique that is not really a true color-swap but that should be considered is the photography of all products in a similar position and by carefully masking, we replace the areas from one photo to the other. This may create the most precise colour on all photos but brings other problems such as the changes in the position of the product from one photo to the next that may require stretches, moves, transforms, etc.

You will almost always find other issues caused by color contamination. It is when the light bounces from a color area, and illuminates another area with the light of the same color as the object. In our case, the filter caps reflect their colour on the white body of the mask.

There are times when we need to change the colour of a product for other reasons. Perhaps due to changes in the production color by the manufacturer or to explore how the product would look like in other colors.

For this product, the client asked for some variations on the color. Click on the images to see larger.

Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant_- Color change in product photography sample
Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant_- Color change in product photography sample
Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample
Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample
Brown Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample
Brown Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample
Black diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample
Black diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample

The perception of the colour varies depending on what is close to the product and how bright or dark the scene. See these other samples:

Diffuser metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table with approved logo Color change in product photography sample
Diffuser metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table with approved logo Color change in product photography sample
Brown metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table - Color change in product photography sample
Brown metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table - Color change in product photography sample
Black Diffuser metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table - Color change in product photography sample
Black Diffuser metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table - Color change in product photography sample

My opinion is that while this is a valid option and should be used, when necessary, it is an expensive option and sometimes risky. Here at Zoom Studio, our objective is to always have the best quality images and keep the client happy.

These products were photographed and retouched by Jose Aguiar .

Click on the images to see them larger. Please leave a comment and share. 

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