Black and White Photo with a Spot of Color

There are two ways to go about doing this. If you have a color photo and you want it to be black and white with one visible color, or maybe a black and white photo and you want to add a color to it but you’re not really sure how to go about doing it. Either way, they are both easy with a couple little tricks.

We’ll start with the already colorized photo and work a little magic on it. If you have a black and white photo and want to add color to it, do Steps 1 through 6, then skip to Step 9.

Step 1

Find the photo you’d like to alter.

Step 2

Open it in Photoshop. Make sure that your Color Mode is set to either RGB (for websites/screen only viewing) or CMYK (for printing). It’s up to you which one you use, the colors are not dramatically different, however if you want it to be more accurate when printed, then changing it to CMYK might be a better option for you.

Step 3
Add a new Layer to your project. To do this, make sure your Layers window
is open. If not, go to the menu and Windows>Layers and it will open. Then, select
the little arrow for the drop down menu, and choose New Layer. In the same window,
find the Opacity (how transparent the layer is) percentage, and change that
to 0%. If you don’t do this, the next couple of steps may be a little difficult
for you.

Step 4

This part may either be very tedious to you or be a piece of cake.

Decide what part of the picture you want to colorize. Maybe it’s a flower, like in my example in this tutorial, or a toy, or a shirt, etc. Be creative! Play around with different ideas. Maybe you’ll like one over another.

Now, select your Pen Tool.

The Pen Tool can be tricky if you’ve never used it before. It’s an excellent tool for outlining objects and/or creating new objects with a specifically defined shape. Its control may seem a little crazy at first, so you’ll have to practice a little bit with it before you get the hang of it.

TIP:Click once with the Pen Tool. Click again somewhere else – while holding themouse button down, move the mouse slowly and you’ll see how your motion creates different curves with the line. Once you’ve achieved the curve you’d like, let the button go, and move onto the next anchor point (the dot the pen tool places when you click is called the “anchor point”). You can have three or three thousand anchor points, it doesn’t matter. To “close” your shape, you have to make your way back around to the first anchor point you placed, and click on that again. After this, you will have completed the shape.

Now, while using the Pen Tool, you will outline whatever the shape is that
you’d like to be colorized in the final piece. This may take you a little bit
to do, so don’t get frustrated!

***Pen Tool too difficult right now? Want an easier way to outline an object? Try using the Lasso selection tool and just tracing it “freehand”. This may or may not be easier for you – it all depends on your mouse-moving-motor skills.

Step 5

Now that you’ve finished outlining your shape with the Pen Tool, go to your Paths window. You can find this window one of two ways. It is either under the menu Windows>Paths, or locate your Layers window, and Paths is a tab you can click on in there.

Click on the little arrow for the menu in your Paths window, and choose “Make Selection”. It will then ask you if you want the selection feathered or not. It is up to you whether or not you want it feathered. This will soften the lines around your image. I generally keep with “0” to make the image crisper, but it’s up to you. Play around with it, and Edit>Undo if you don’t like it. This will ultimately transform your solid line into a dotted line, making it possible to now select pieces of the image with the shape you just created.

Step 6 (if using an already black and white photo, skip to Step 9 after you have completed this step)

You’ve just passed the most difficult steps! Congratulations! It’s all gravy now.

Choose the Layer your image is on (while still maintaining your newly created selection), and copy it. Either through the menu Edit>Copy, or keyboard shortcut CTRL+C.

Create a new Layer, and then Paste what you just copied Edit>Paste or CTRL+V.

Step 7

Choose the Layer that your main picture is on. You are now going to make this layer black and white (also known as Grayscale, or Desaturated).

Select everything on this layer. Edit>Select All or CTRL+A. Go to your menu Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation or CTRL+U. Slide the middle Saturation slider all the way to the left, or change the value of 0 to –100. This will remove the color from this layer in your project!

Step 8

You’re almost done! Now that you have your color splash visible on top of your black and white photo. Does the color look a little too vibrant to you? If so, choose the layer that your color piece is on, and go back to your Hue/Saturation menu. You are not only able to change the color here, but also desaturate the color a little, saturate the color, and lighten or darken. Play around with these until you get something you like.

Step 9

Choose your layer with the image that you cut out on it. Of course it is still black and white, so we need to add some color to this! This is extremely simple.

In your menu, go to Image>Adjustments>Variations.

In this little window that pops up you can create “Variations” on colors! This adds a thin layer of color directly over your image. You can make this very subtle, or you can make it very vibrant. It’s in your hands!

There you go! You’ve finished!

By Kirin Knapp

Kirin Knapp is a graphic designer for the iEntry Network, publishing company of FlashNewz. A flash animator and illustrator, she is the creator of her home site,

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