Photoshop Tip: Choosing Complementary Colours…FAST!

In General by Glyn12 Comments

Hi Folks,

Well seeing as today marks the start of the first ever Adobe Creative Week [Link] I thought I’d kick off with a very quick Photoshop Tip.

Like most tips and techniques it doesn’t have to be complicated or long winded; and this one certainly isn’t BUT it’s incredibly easy and something I use a lot, and what we’re talking about here is a very quick way to choose a Complementary Colour.

In its simplest terms if we think of the 360° colour wheel, a complementary colour is the colour that is directly opposite and is so called because well, opposite colours just go well together 🙂

Anyway, here’s a very quick way to choose the opposite/complementary colour when using Photoshop:

1) Double Click
Double click on the Foreground Colour in the tool bar to bring up the Colour picker dialog box:

2) 360° Colour Wheel
Thinking of the 360° colour wheel, look at the section giving the H, S, B values (Hue, Saturation, Brightness) and whatever the H (Hue) value is set to, simply add or take away 180

In this example the HUE value is currently 60° so by adding 180 to get the opposite side of the colour wheel it becomes 240°. Conversely if the Hue value had been 240° it would become 60° … easy huh 🙂

Before (HUE 60°) 

After (HUE 240°)

Extra Tip
One last little tip about the colour picker dialog box…

Once you have a colour selected, by moving the pointer Left or Right you can adjust the Saturation (Left = Less, Right = More) and moving the pointer Ip or Down adjusts the Brightness value (Up = Brighter, Down = Darker)

Right, that’s all from me for today so I hope that was useful 🙂

Be sure to keep an eye on the Adobe Creative Week schedule for everything that’s going on by visiting the website here [Link] Today kicks off with Creative Industry Overview.

Have a great day and I’ll catch you tomorrow,
Glyn 🙂


  1. Thats a neat trick Glyn; a simpler version (for the primary colours, eg if you want to quickly adjust colour casts) is
    Red Cyan
    Green Magenta
    Blue Yellow

    In your screen-shots above, they are opposite each other, and so are easy to remember.

  2. Fantastic tip…especially for those who want to avoid leaving Photoshop. However, for times when a bit more “robustness” is required, I find the following [free] site to be a great resource:

    Thanks as always for sharing your vast PS knowledge!

  3. I had used the colour picker before to pick up a colour that was already in the image but had never thought of using it this way. And that extra tip about using the arrow keys is a real bonus

    Thank You


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      Because that doesn’t work when you want to change the foreground or background colours in the tool bar.

  5. Through experimenting I’ve found a way that’s a little quicker and requires absolutely no math. Simply invert the color by pressing Command + I. That will give you the exact opposite color on the color wheel.

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  7. Thanks Glyn, That is super easy! Much better than opening illustrator to find a complimentary color

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