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How to Bring Color Back to a Photo That You've Desaturated Using ANY Version of Photoshop

Updated on June 30, 2009

Let There Be Color

No doubt you've seen one of those really cool images where part of the picture is in black and white (B&W) and the other part of it is in color? Well, now you can learn the trick to creating your own. In this article I am going to share with you the inside tips your photographer doesn't want you to know.

There are actually several ways to do this, some methods being easier than others. But since not everyone can afford to spend $200+ on a photo editing software program, I am going to teach you how to "cheat" and get the same effect by using even an old Photoshop Elements program (available on eBay for about $10-$15).

Step 1

First, open your image file (photo) in Adobe Photoshop 6.0 or later (I will also include a "cheat" method for older versions below) and select IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>DESATURATE from the top of the editor to remove all the color from the image.

Step 2

Next, select the 'History Brush' from the tool palette in Photoshop 6.0 or higher. Then make your brush size around 10-13 px using the palette located just under the file menu bar. The Hardness should be set at 100%.

Step 3

Using the History Brush, you can now 'paint' back in the object or the part of the photo that you select to colorize back to the original image color. Remember to lift the brush off every now and then so that you can undo any mistakes without having to start the whole process over again.

Step 4

After you've "colorized" the part of the photo you wanted to accentuate, be sure to save your finished copy, but make sure you give it a different name from the original photo, otherwise it will replace the original version with your new colorized image. And remember, like anything in the digital world of today, it will take time and practice to perfect...and a little PATIENCE.

FOR OLDER VERSIONS OF PHOTOSHOP

  • If you have an older version of Photoshop or will be purchasing an older version due to costs, open your image file in Photoshop (any version) and click the IMAGE>DUPLICATE and hit OK. This will make an exact copy of your image. Then select IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>DESATURATE from the top of the editor to remove all the color from the duplicate image, just as detailed above.

  • Next, 'drag' the duplicate image and 'drop' it on top of the original image (now your original will look B&W). You can do this by clicking on the Ctrl button on your keyboard with your left hand, and using your right hand by clicking down with the mouse to drag the image.

  • Once you have lined up both images (the duplicate on top of the original), use your 'Eraser Brush' from the tool palette and erase away the B&W portion of the photo that you want to be in color. Be sure to set your eraser brush small (about 13px) so that you can "stay within the lines," so to speak. As with the method above, remember to lift the brush off now and then so that you can undo any mistakes without having to start the whole process again.

  • There's just one last step. You will need to merge the two layers together to make one photo (although techinically you can do this when saving the image, too). To do this, select LAYER>FLATTEN IMAGE from the top panel of your editor...then save using a different name from the original image file and close.

TIPS/HINTS:

  • Zoom in on difficult areas, like curves, so that you can get a closer trim.
  • Be sure to keep your brush size (paintbrush tool and/or eraser tool) small enough to handle the 'fine detail' areas of the image, and adjust the brush size as needed.

ATTENTION DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHERS (PROFESSIONAL or NOVICE) & SCRAPBOOKERS

If you're looking for a creative edge in what many would call one of the most competitive fields in the arts, then be sure to visit our digital design store for one-of-a-kind products designed with our own photography studio in mind:

http://stores.shop.ebay.com/OldmadeNewAgain

You can also visit our online photography studio at www.fpp.exposuremanager.com

Thanks for reading and I hope I was able to provide you with a new and useful skill.

What's Black & White and Color All Over...

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Select an Image to "Colorize"Desaturate ImageDepending upon method used, either paint color back into the image or erase B&W outDetermine how much color you want to bring backFinished product
Select an Image to "Colorize"
Select an Image to "Colorize"
Desaturate Image
Desaturate Image
Depending upon method used, either paint color back into the image or erase B&W out
Depending upon method used, either paint color back into the image or erase B&W out
Determine how much color you want to bring back
Determine how much color you want to bring back
Finished product
Finished product

Comments

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  • jill of alltrades profile image

    jill of alltrades 

    9 years ago from Philippines

    Great hub! I learned to do this before but it's good to be reminded again.

    Thank you for sharing. I too love photography.

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