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30 Amazing Selective Color Photographs (And How To Do It Yourself in Gimp)

Updated on October 12, 2012

According to Wikipedia, "Selective color is a post-processing technique where most of a photo is converted to black and white, but some parts are left in color. This is usually achieved by using layers and masks in photo editing software." It is a simple way of adding interest to an image and drawing attention to the main object in your photo.

Lets look at a 30 amazing examples of selective color photographs.


How to Selective Color using GIMP

Want to get a photo like the above photos? Well, here is how to dot it.

Original image.
Original image. | Source

Open your photo in Gimp. Duplicate the layer via Layer > Duplicate Layer or by clicking the duplicate icon in the layer box. Then, remove the color of the layer copy via Colors > Desaturate. You'll get a black and white photo. You can adjust the contrast and sharpness of the photo if you want.

Duplicating layer.
Duplicating layer.
Desaturating layer.
Desaturating layer.

Add a mask to the layer by clicking Layer > Mask > Add Layer Mask.

Select the object you want to leave the color. Here, I want to colorize the scarf. So, I select it using Free Select Tool.

After you select it, fill the selection with black color to give a full transparency.

To add an artistic look, you can enhance the color saturation of the original layer and add a color tone, such as sepia tone, to the duplicated layer.


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    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 

      6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      I can't get over what a great effect this technique has on photos. You have posted some stunning examples! I have seen photos like these over the years by professional photographers, it is great that the process is now available to the masses. I can't want to try it out. Thanks for the tutorial and information! ~voted up, interesting and useful~

    • suwarnaadi profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Yes, Gimp is free but powerful for photographers.


    • suwarnaadi profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Gimp is free. You can download it here:

    • Natashalh profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Awesome! I have GIMP and it is a powerful tool, I am just not fully versed on how to use it. Thank you for the step by step guide - I know I'll be trying this after work tonight! Bookmarked so I can find it again.

    • Maria Cecilia profile image

      Maria Cecilia 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      ah so there is a special software for that?

    • suwarnaadi profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi. Do it both in the digicam & the computer. Digicam to capture the photo, while computer to do selective colorization. To do selective colorization, you can use Gimp or Photoshop in your computer. In Gimp, I've wrote the tutorial below the list of the examples.

    • Maria Cecilia profile image

      Maria Cecilia 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      Hi I love colors and I wanted to learn that style, but I didn't know if I miss something, but how do you do it? or where? in the digicam or in the computer.?


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