How to color match anything in Photoshop (step by step tutorial)


If you’ve seen a pretty shade of pink, blue, green, purple or any (literally any) color and want to use it in a design – whether you’re making a pattern, a label or a printable, there’s a quick and easy way to find out the exact shade of that color in Photoshop.

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How to color match anything in Photoshop

If you don’t have Photoshop, you can purchase and download it here (my affiliate link).

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1. Find an image with the color you want

Usually when I’m searching one of my favorite places to find color inspiration, I’ll come across a picture with some really pretty colors.

You might have also purchased a pretty notebook and want to make some coordinating stationery or add a monogram label to the cover to personalise it etc. you can take a photo of it then upload to your computer (or email it to yourself from your phone) or use the photo from the store you purchased it from’s website.

So basically what I’m trying to say it you can do this trick with any photo whether it’s one of your own or from a picture you’ve seen on the internet (landscape and scenic pictures such as sunsets are also great color inspiration)

Need some places to find pretty colors? My 5 Favourite Color Tools for Graphic Design

Design Seeds is my go to resource for color schemes I may not have thought of! They have some serious eye candy for graphic designers 🙂

2. Save the image

To save an image on your computer, right click on the image and choose ‘save as’ then save it wherever you like on your computer. I have a folder with color inspiration and because I have so many pretty colors I want to use in future designs, I’ve created sub-folders as well for:

  • Rainbow color schemes
  • Ombre (different shades of the one shade of the same color)
  • 2 color combinations
  • 3 color combinations
  • 4 color combinations
  • Color swatches used in specific products I’ve designed

You could also create a Pinterest board. If you’re not following me on Pinterest already, click here!

3. Bring the image into Photoshop

Once you’ve opened up Photoshop (if you don’t have the software already you can download it here), you’ll want to locate where the image is saved on your computer, left click the image, then drag it with your mouse over Photoshop, then let go of your mouse to drop/place it. You don’t need to create a new file/canvas, you can bring your photo straight into Photoshop.

If you do bring the image into a template you’ve created, note that the image will automatically be re-sized to suit the size of the template you’re using. So keep this in mind if you want to use a photo as part of your design then use text and other elements that are color matched to that photo. You don’t want to have increase the size of the image as it will reduce the image quality and make it blurry.

4. Use the eyedropper tool to find the color

Select the eyedropper tool from Photoshop’s menu. It looks like this:

If you’re not seeing the eye dropper icon you may have one of the other tools selected. Whenever you see a little arrow in the bottom right hand corner it means there’s a secondary menu. If you right click it will bring up more design tools and the eye dropper tool will be there.

Now click on the photo at the spot where you want to extract the color. It helps to zoom in by pressing CTRL and the + sign on your keyboard.

Now click the color tool (the square that shows what colors you’ve selected that’s in the bottom left hand corner of your screen in Photoshop):

It’ll tell you the 6 digit hex code (in the image below it’s 78efbe) and the RGB code (for the green color in the image below, the RGB code is 120, 239, 190).

RGB codes are more commonly used (you can even find them in Microsoft Word!). Hex codes are mainly used for web. I explained more about the difference between them in this post: Raster, vector, png, .TIFF, CMYK – what does it all mean?! (Graphic design terminology explained)

Related post: How to use the color tools in Photoshop

5. Record the colors you used in the design

You can either save the color in the swatches menu in Photoshop. I shared how to do that in this post on how to use the color tools in Photoshop.

You can also record colors using a style guide template (I include one in my ecourse: How to make printables in Photoshop) and a printable template in my other ecourse: How to make patterns in Photoshop You could also record this in a notebook or on a sticky note and place it on a pinboard above your workplace.

6. Use the color in your design

Now for the fun part! Getting to use the pretty colors you’ve found 🙂 If you’re using the color to make a pattern, see this post for a tutorial how to change the colors of a pattern overlay in Photoshop. Otherwise, if you click on the color in the swatches menu you’ll be able to use it for any shape, font etc. that you like!

Want more Photoshop tutorials?

There’s a treasure trove of them in the free graphic design video tutorials library as as well as these posts:

  • How to make a checkerboard pattern in Photoshop (video tutorial)
  • How to use clipping masks in Photoshop
  • How to use shapes in Photoshop
  • How to create a new file in Photoshop and how to resize (without distorting!)
  • How to use the color tools in Photoshop
  • Printing 12″ x 12″ digital paper onto A4 or 8.5″ x 11″ Paper from a home printer
  • How to make a seamless repeating pattern in Photoshop (webinar replay)
  • How to make a party banner in Photoshop (How to make party printables), DIY
  • Picmonkey versus Canva versus Photoshop versus Adobe Illustrator: Which one is best for graphic design?
  • How to use mockups in Phothoshop (using smart objects and styled stock photos)
  • 50 Things you can make using Photoshop
  • How to make glitter text in Photoshop
  • How to make glitter patterns in Photoshop (plus a free polka dot pattern overlay)
  • How to add a watermark to pictures using Photoshop (quick & easy method)

Browse all posts on the blog.

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