Midweek Masterclass: Colour Schemes in Photoshop

Midweek Masterclass: change knitting pattern colour schemes in Photoshop

Want to try different colour combinations before committing to buying the yarn - Photoshop can help with that!

10th May 2017

As we become more confident knitters, we feel undaunted about substituting our own preferred colours and yarns for those recommended in the pattern. However, sometimes it can be hard to visualise how a garment is going to turn out in these new colours - particularly if it’s a design that uses lots of different shades.

It’s here that the computer software program Adobe Photoshop can be really helpful, and with a little know-how you can use it to mock up an image of how your project might look with a different colour scheme.

The steps shown below are a very rough guide to recolouring in Photoshop, but the beauty of using a method like this is that you can go back and tweak certain colours until you are totally happy. You can make a few different versions in several different colour schemes, then compare them side by side to see which you like best.

For our example, we’re going to be using Marie Wallin’s amazing ‘Eldora’ pattern, taken from Rowan’s Knitting & Crochet Magazine 55 and which also appeared in The Knitter issue 71. It uses eight bright shades of Rowan Cotton Glacé, and we’re going to show you how to play around with the design using adjustment layers in Photoshop to come up with alternative colour palettes. Why not give it a go and see what you end up with!

The first step is to scan the photograph of the pattern you wish to recolour. If you don’t have a scanner at home, find out if your local library or high street copy shop has scanning facilities. Alternatively, you may be able to download an image of the design if it appears on Ravelry. 

Colour Schemes in Photoshop Master Class 01

1. Open up the image of your project in Photoshop. If your adjustment palette isn’t already showing, you’ll need to make this visible. Find this under the ‘Window’ menu. 

Colour Schemes in Photoshop Master Class 02

2. Next, switch on ‘Quick Mask’ mode. This allows you to quickly select the area you want to change. Double-click the little button at the bottom of the tools palette and check the colour indicates selected areas. Press ‘OK’. 

Colour Schemes in Photoshop Master Class 03

3. Now select the paintbrush tool from the tools palette and make sure that the foreground colour is set to black. Carefully paint over all the areas that you want to change. Here we have painted over the Blackberry stripes, neckband and armhole edgings, using red. 

Colour Schemes in Photoshop Master Class 04

4. Next press the ‘Quick Mask’ button or hit ‘Q’ to take you out of Quick Mask mode. The stripes or area you have selected will now have a dashed line dancing around it. 

Colour Schemes in Photoshop Master Class 05

5. Next go to the adjustments palette you brought up at the beginning and select the ‘Selective Colour Adjustment Layer’. 

Colour Schemes in Photoshop Master Class 06

6. This will bring up a bunch of sliders to play with, based on the colours in the selection you are changing. Here I started with the magenta selection, then changed to neutral, before I got a blue. This gives you a (rough) idea of what the new colour might look like. 

Colour Schemes in Photoshop Master Class 07

7. Next you want to open the ‘Layers palette’ (see above) and make sure you are selected on the ‘Background’ layer. This is an important step! Go back to ‘Quick Mask’ mode again, by using the button or pressing ‘Q’, and select the next stripe or area you want to change. 

Colour Schemes in Photoshop Master Class 08

8. If you go back to your ‘Layers’ palette and double-click the ‘Selective Colour’ icon, you can select the changes you made separately and play with them again. Save your file in PSD format so you’ll be able to go back and edit the colours afterwards, or if you’re happy then you can go to Layer/Flatten and save as a JPG. And now you're finished, remember this is a rough guide to get you started, but there's an amazing amount that you can do with photoshop once you get the hang of it.

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