February 23, 2015

How to change the color of .PNG images


Lately I've gotten the same question over and over again from clients that want to buy a set of my clipart in my Etsy shop The Dutch Lady Designs. They see a set of clipart that they like very much, but the colors that are available in the set are just not the exact colors they need for their project. They want to know how they can re-color that clipart. So in order to save myself a lot of work and typing the same text over and over again in a message to these clients I want to touch on the subject over here on the blog. That way I can direct clients with these questions to this post and hopefully be of service to other people that would like to know how to re-color any of their .PNG images. So let's start!

SOME THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IMAGE FILE TYPES
Images, such as clipart, are available in various file types. If you look on Etsy you will see that most designers sell their clipart in .PNG, .JPEG, .AI or .EPS files. Before you decide on buying a set of clipart you need to know what you can do with the file type the designer offers. So let's take a closer look at them:

.PNG  files - these files can be used for web use but also for printing, although the best printing results you will most likely get through a .JPEG file. Most .PNG files have a transparent background, which is great when you want your clipart to be placed over another image. But make sure you check this with the designer, because an image can be in .PNG file and still have a solid white background. The other great thing about .PNG files is that these files are recognized by any image editing program, so you don't need to have a pricey program like Adobe Illustrator at your disposal to work with it. A .PNG file is a one layered image, and this is important to know for re-coloring, which I will get into later on.

.JPEG files - these files are great for printing purposes, but make sure that the resolution of the file is at least 300 dpi for this. Again, you can ask the designer of the image if that is the case. The background of a .JPEG file is never transparent, so keep that in mind. These files also get recognized by any image editing program and just like .PNG files they only have one layer.

.AI files - these files are made with Adobe Illustrator and the great thing about these files is that the designer can build up the image in multiple layers. Let's say the designer makes a flower image with petals. Then every petal can be created in a separate layer. This is awesome when you need to re-color this image, but more on that later. The downside of this type of file is that it is only recognized by the Adobe Illustrator program itself, so you need to have this program to make changes to or work with the image.

.EPS files - these files are made with Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop and they can be build up in multiple layers as well. EPS files are great for re-scaling images since they keep the quality of the image when enlarging them, although an .AI file will often do the same. But again, this file type will only be recognized by Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, and if you don't have these programs at your disposal you can't do anything with these files.


CHANGING THE COLOR OF IMAGE FILES
Depending on what type of file your image is, you have certain options to re-color the image. The best options for re-coloring an image are with layered .AI and .EPS files. Every layer can be re-colored with a color of your choice as you can see in the image below:


On the right side of the screen you see how the images are build up out of several layers and any of these layers can be recolored in the exact HEX color code you want.

But if you haven't designed the image yourself, you are stuck to the layers that the designer originally created in the image. So if you are looking for .AI or .EPS clipart files to buy with the purpose of recoloring them, you might want to ask the designer how the layers are build up. A designer might decide on making a flower image and only use one layer for the complete flower. That will not give you the opportunity to give every petal a different color for example.

With .PNG and .JPEG images, there is of course the option to re-color them, but since they only consist of one layer you have to re-color the entire image and you don't have the option to re-color only a part of the image. Re-coloring of .PNG and .JPEG images is more a re-scaling of color then anything else. 

Let's take a look at a clipart image from a set of Dahlia clipart that I made. I opened the image I want to work on in Photoscape (a free image editing program you can download here). You can see the image has a purple/pinkish color:


When I want to add another color to it, I can only do so by shifting it into another color direction. You do this by clicking on the 'light & color' option in the menubar below. A little screen will pop up now and there you can start shifting various buttons. The most important for color change is the button for 'color tone'. Shift this one in any direction and see the color appearance of the image change on screen:


Just play around with all these shifting buttons until the image looks like you want it to look and save it under a different name. Now you've got yourself a different color version of the image!


CONCLUSIONS ON RECOLORING IMAGE FILES
For the best recoloring option it's clear that you need to have good, multiple layered .AI or .EPS files and the Adobe Illustrator program. But if you're looking for a cheaper option, you best buy your clipart in .PNG file with transparent background and then recolor the images with a free program like Photoscape. And with an image editing program you can always convert your .PNG images to high resolution .JPEG images if you need them for printing.


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