Color regions in black and white Images

Recently I saw a few photographs in a magazine where majority of the picture is black and white, except for a certain region which is in color. Few other examples of such images are used to show only one color, or to highlight a symbol or logo, or just for aesthetic purposes.

Till last year, I was not using any photo-editing tools, since I believe a photographer should be able to accomplish correct lighting, depth and color using his/her photographic skills. I still believe that to a large extend, but have come to realize how photo-editing software can be used for effects which cannot be captured by camera alone, to create great art. And in this struggle to learn to deal with photo-editors, I started with the effect mentioned above.

The software I am using is Photoshop, however other similar software can be used to accomplish the same effect. I will explain how I do it using an example below. There might be better ways, but this is one of the simplest techniques I figured, and it works. ūüôā To filter a single color, you can also apply filters, but well… ūüôā

Let me show you the example image.

I took this picture at the end of a Halloween party, just as the house lights were turned on. Here my friend’s reflective glasses offer a nice reflection (I am the guy with the camera), which offer an interesting perspective.

The first step is opening the image in Photoshop. One you do that, select the entire image by pressing “Ctrl + A”. Once you have done this, select black and white effect on the right side of the window as shown in the following picture:

Once you have done this, you would have created a new layer on top of the original layer. This can be seen below:

Now comes the tricky part. So till now, you have an image with two layers. The original layer is hidden behind a black and white layer. Now if you delete parts of the new layer, you will see the original image behind it, which is color. This is the basic for this effect.

In case of our example, we want the image in the glasses to be in color, and everything else in black in white, so we will be selecting the glasses in the top layer and delete it. This can be accomplished by selecting the black and white layer, and the Magnetic Lasso Tool as shown below:

Now carefully select the region within the glasses and delete it.

Don’t aim to do it all in one go. Its easier to do it in portions. Do right lens first and then do left lens or vice-versa.

Once you have deleted all the parts, you will get the image you want. One way to monitor this is just to have a look at the mask as you cut it out. This can be seen below:

Once you have done that, go to Layer->Flatten image option (Image → Flatten Image in Gimp), to flatten the image. This will transform all the different layers into one layer, and make the image ready to be save as a jpeg.

The resultant image is shown here:


More examples:

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2 Responses to Color regions in black and white Images

  1. Happy Christmas time everybody as well as a joyous New Years Eve!

  2. Lou says:

    Superb know-how! I have been hunting for some thing like that for quite a while today. Thanks!

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