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Color and Black and White

Friday, January 12th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

You’ve probably seen them. I’m talking about those cool looking fashion pictures in magazines where the picture is black and white, but a part of it or some object in the picture is in color. Ever wonder how they get this cool effect to work? Well, today I am going to show you how to achieve this very cool, yet simple effect. To start with, you need a colored image, of course. Choose one of your images that will look good as a black and white photo. Go ahead and open the target image.

Start by desaturating the image. Desaturation is nothing but changing the image over to black and white. To do this, go to Image, Adjustments, Desaturate or press Shift + Ctrl + U. Your image should be black and white now. Now, we are going to use the History brush tool to paint the color back in the picture.

The opacity of the History brush should be 100 percent and the size should be scaled depending on the amount of detail the various parts of the image requires. Using the History brush, we can “paint” back the color in the image. To understand this better, just paint anything on the main image and you will see how it works. In the image above, I decided to paint the blue sky back in the picture. In my photo, I could afford to use a big brush size, as not much detailing is to be done for the major part.

In the middle of the image, where the clouds meet the sea, a fine distinction is required to ensure that the color doesn’t spill over from the sky to the sea. Make sure to take quick breaks from the painting so that in case you make a mistake, you can always undo a little bit of it and don’t have to go back a long way.

When painting in the detailed parts, it’s a good idea to zoom in so as to avoid spill overs. The key is to take your own sweet time and paint carefully around the edges. The opacity of the brush must remain constantly at 100 percent, in order to bring out all of the color.

This is what I ended up with.

If you want to experiment some more, try changing the opacity of the History brush or use different layer blending effects along with it. For more cool effect tutorials that you can combine with this one, you can check out WorldStart’s newsletter archives or search from the main Web site at Have fun!

~Yogesh Bakshi

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