How to Change or Replace Colors in GIMP?

GIMP is similar to Photoshop and most photographers/designers use it for editing the photos. When it comes to changing or replacing colors in GIMP, it has a vast variety of options that can be used for this specific task. Colors in a photo is an important thing that can change the look of the entire image. However, there are several different reasons why a user will want to change or replace colors for their images. In this article, we are going to show some of the basic methods that you can use for changing and replacing colors in GIMP.

Changing or Replacing colors in GIMP

Using the Bucket Fill Tool to Change Colors

Just like in most programs, the bucket tool is commonly used for adding/changing colors of the area in the image. Most users are familiar with this tool because it is also used in Microsoft Paint, which is one of the most common programs. The bucket tool will work best with the solid colors only, but not with the color that has patterns. Follow the below steps to try it out:

  1. Open your GIMP application, click on the File menu, and choose Open option. Locate your image file and open it.
    Opening file in GIMP
  2. Click on the active foreground color on the left side and choose a color that you want to add.
    Changing the foreground color in GIMP
  3. Now select the bucket fill tool and click on the solid color to change the color to the one you chose for foreground color.
    Using the bucket tool to change colors
  4. You can also use the Select tool to select any of the areas and then use the Bucket tool to add the color in that area.
    Note: You can also create another layer before using the selection tool.

    Changing color for the selected area with the bucket tool
  5. This will change the color in your image, you can always undo by pressing the CTRL + X keys on your keyboard.

Using the Color Balance and Colorize to Change Colors

The color balance tool is used to modify the color balance of the selected area or layer of the image. This tool is mostly used for correcting the predominant colors in the digital photos. The colorize is another similar tool that can help with changing the Hue/Saturation and lightness of the image. These two tools are used for changing the colors of the image quickly within few steps. Follow the below steps to change the color of the image:

  1. Open your image in the GIMP program by using the open option in the File menu.
  2. Click on the Colors menu in the menu bar and choose the Color Balance option in the list. Here you can change the color levels bars to change the color on the image.
    Using the color balance to change colors
  3. You can also click on the Colors menu in the menu bar and choose the Colorize option. Here you can choose a specific color and then change the bars to apply that color with different options.
    Using the colorize option to change colors
  4. One more thing you can try is applying these color options for a specific object. You need to use one of the Select tools and select the area for the color changing.
    Note: You can also create a new layer of the original image before trying the selection of the area/object.

    Using color balance for selected area only
  5. Now choose any of the above options to change the color of the specific area.
  6. Once you are done, you can further work on the image or click on the File menu, choose the Export option to save the image.

Using the Color Exchange Option to Replace Colors

This method is used for replacing the solid color pixels from one color to another. It will mostly change all the pixels of one color to another color. However, if the image has some pixels that are different from the color you choose, it won’t change those pixels to another color. Make sure that the pixels you are changing are in a similar color. This works better for the solid colors used in the image. Follow the below steps to try it out:

  1. Open the Image or Create a new image in GIMP by clicking the File menu in the menu bar.
  2. Click on the Colors menu in the menu bar, select the Map option, and choose Color Exchange option in the list.
    Note: Make sure that the RGB option is selected in the Mode option of Image menu.

    Opening the Color Exchange option
  3. Here you can change the From Color and To Color to whatever colors you want to replace to your selected colors. You can also use the Pick Color tool next to it to select the specific color on image.
    Using the color exchange option to completely change one color to another
  4. Once you are done with replacing colors, click on the Ok button to apply the changes.

There are many more ways that you can use for changing the colors on the photos in GIMP. It all depends on what kind of changes and tools you want to use. Some may only require the Hue/Saturation option for the quick changes and some may use the Brush Tool for coloring the specific area in a photo. Every option in GIMP for colors will have different benefits depending on the image. Users can play around with a different option to check what they need for themselves. Most of the options for color changing and replacing will be found in the Colors menu in the menu bar.

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Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.
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