Home > Free Tutorials > Coloring > How to Use Complementary Colors in Photoshop

How to Use Complementary Colors in Photoshop

  • Easy
  • 30
  • Add to

Certain Color combinations will always look good together, the most simple Color combination being complementary Colors. Learn how to identify and create complementary colors, then change the background of a photo to compliment the subject!

Share this tutorial

How to Use Adobe Color Themes

Complementary Colors are opposites on the Color wheel. In case you don’t have a Color Wheel lying around, Adobe has one built-in to Photoshop.

To access the Color Wheel called “Adobe Color Themes” go to ‘Window – Extensions – Adobe Color Themes’. In this dialog, you can create different color themes including complementary colors, analogous colors, triad colors and more!

To create a complementary color of an existing color in your image, first use the Eyedropper Tool to sample a color. Then click on the icon below the color wheel in the Adobe Color Theme Dialog labeled ’Set selected color from active color’. This will load the color you just chose using the Eyedropper Tool into the Adobe Color Theme Dialog. For best results, be sure to have the center color box chosen in the Adobe Color Theme Dialog.

Once the appropriate color is chosen, click on the drop-down menu on the top of the Adobe Color Theme Dialog and navigate to ‘Complementary’. The Colors below will now represent a collection of complementary colors.

To retrieve more information on any color, choose it from the 5 available color boxes and note the numbers below. Each Color can be identified based on different values. You will see values for CMYK, RGB, HSB, and HEX codes.

These values can be plugged into any color window to accurately Match Colors.

How to Change Colors in an Image

Now that the appropriate color has been sampled, loaded into the Adobe Color Theme Dialog and a Complimentary Color has been chosen, it is time to color objects in the photo to represent the complementary colors.

Changing colors in an image can be done in many ways, in this example, we cover 2 methods for Coloring an image.

The easiest method is to create a ‘Hue/Saturation’ Adjustment Layer by going to ‘Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue/Saturation’. Click on the ‘Colorize’ button in the Hue/Saturation Dialog, then enter the Hue number from the HSB values on the Adobe Color Theme Dialog.

In this example, we chose a Hue of 159, making the Background a nice green to compliment the red/brown in the hat.

The last step is to use a Layer Mask to make the green layer visible over the Background and nowhere else. Because the background of the image is one color, we use ‘Select – Color Range’ to select out the Background and load the selection into the Layer Mask.

There are many ways to make selections and masks, feel free to use the method that is most comfortable to you!

Featured Tutorials

How to Master Layer Styles in Photoshop
In this tutorial, we’ll help you master every layer effect with practical examples like adding photorealistic text to an environment, creating a neon glow effect from scratch, using layer styles to add a natural glow to a light source and more.
How to Master Blending Modes in Photoshop
We take you through every adjustment layer, showing you how to fix exposure, color correct, color grade, place objects on solid colored-backgrounds, make advertisements for print or web, and much more!
How to Master Blending Modes in Photoshop
In this tutorial, we break down all 27 blending modes that Photoshop offers, providing in-depth explanations and practical examples that are bound to help you get your creative work done faster and with impressive results.
Join us as we equip you with everything you need to know about shooting and editing in monochrome.
With over 4 hours of step-by-step instruction, we cover the tools and methodology required to make any color change appear realistic and natural.
While it may seem like magic, the ability to make anything disappear in Photoshop isn’t a trick – it’s a skill that anyone can learn.
Photoshop Compositing
In this tutorial, we cover several tools and techniques that, when combined, will allow you to create perfect masks of anything from the precision curves of designer products to the messy detail of a head of hair.


  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    New dialog box – yup!

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Hi I have a quiestion I have photoshop cc 2017 creative clouds and I try to use extension option but its looks different I don’t have so many options, its look very simple