Monday, January 4, 2010
Super-Simple Selective Color—01/04/10
Two techniques to add a splash of color to black-and-white photographs
- The History Brush method. This approach requires opening an image in Photoshop and first converting it to grayscale. Though you may prefer an alternative method to get the black-and-white portion of the image as you like it (such as channel mixer or black-and-white plugins) the crux is the same: convert the picture to black-and-white. Next, use the history brush to paint away the conversion—selectively reverting to the photo’s previous state. In this case, that just so happens to be colorful. Paint away the portion of the picture that should remain full color. Fine-tune the brush size and hardness to ensure that you color “inside the lines.”
- The second selective color approach produces much the same effect, but offers some additional options and controls. The biggest difference between the two approaches is in the types of colors you show. The History Brush method is great for isolating a subject within the frame, even if it’s multi-colored. But the next technique can be taken outside the confines of a single subject—effectively colorizing a specific hue across the image, no matter what part of the frame it’s in.
For this approach, duplicate a color image onto a new layer. With the magic wand tool selected, choose a relatively high tolerance (say 50 or so) and uncheck the “contiguous” tool option so that the wand will be able to select that color wherever it appears in the frame. Click the magic wand on the color you wish to isolate, and you’re on your way. It will likely require some shift-click additions with the wand, and maybe even adjustments to the tolerance to get more or less selected with each click. You may even want to do a bit of cleaning up the selection with the lasso tool, or feathering the edge to make the finished product a bit more refined. The bottom line is that you’ve now got a specific color selected across the frame, and so it’s time to make everything else black-and-white.
From this point, you can go in a couple of different directions to achieve the same results. I suggest whichever one you’re most comfortable with. If you’re good with masking, convert the selection to a mask, then go back to the first layer and convert it to grayscale. If masks aren’t your thing, simply invert your selection and convert everything but the color you wanted to grayscale. Either way, you’re now looking at an image that’s mostly black-and-white—except for the one color you’ve showcased in the image.