Photoshop: Color Highlights in Black & White Images

| Tips

Black and white or full color photos can be striking on their own, but mixing the two draws your vieweris eye exactly where you want it -- and with dramatic effect. Itis actually really simple to create this striking effect in Photoshop without much effort. All you need is a color image.


This is an easy effect to create in Photoshop.

For this example, I spent some time trolling through iStockphoto and came up with an image of a woman holding balloons. Iill Highlight a balloon, and leave everything else black and white.


Start with a color image.

  • Start by opening a color image in Photoshop.

  • Create a new Adjustment Layer.
  • Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation, and move the Saturation slider as far to the left as it will go to make your color image black and white. Click OK.


Move the Saturation slider to the left to pull the color out of your image.

When you create an Adjustment layer, it automatically creates a Layer Mask. Weill use that to add some color back in the highlight area.

  • Select the Brush tool.

  • Use the Brush tool to "paint" where you want to see color.
  • Make sure your selected color is black because that will let us hide, or paint out, the parts of the layer we want to see color through. White has the opposite effect. Use it to add back to your mask and hide the color areas.

  • Color shows through when you paint black on the Adjustment layer mask.
  • With the Adjustment layer mask still selected, paint where you want the color to show through. If you make a mistake, switch to white to paint back in and hide the color you donit want to see.


The original image (left) and final (right).

The great thing about this technique is that it doesnit harm your original image. Since all of your changes are on an adjustment layer, the original photo remains untouched.

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