Making color pop on a black and white photo

One of my favorite photoshop fixes is to keep some things in color and turn the rest black and white. My kids were blessed with blue eyes that I like to show off…and sometimes embellish a little too.

Here is a photo of our oldest son prior to his football banquet. He picked the blue tie so it would go with his eyes…he’s so smart.  But the raw picture isn’t as powerful as the night became so editing it was a must. I consider myself an intermediate Photoshop user so I do not know everything but I will try to keep it simple for those who are not as familiar. Please leave me a comment if you need extra help or if I may have missed something.

Here are the steps I took to achieve the look I wanted:

1) Once your photo is open in Photoshop, right click on the layer and select Layer from background. Then right click again and select Duplicate layer. (Now you have two layers that are the same.)

2) Select one of the layers. Click on Image, then Adjustments, then Hue/Saturation. Click the Colorize box. Drag the Hue and Saturation all the way to the left. (This makes the layer black and white.) Adjusting the contrast in a black and white photo is always part of my routine. Click on Image, then Adjustments, then Brightness/Contrast. Drag the sliders until you’re comfortable with the amount of darks and lights.

3) Depending on what part of your image you want to keep in color, use either the Magnetic Lasso or the Magic Wand to select those items from the layer that is still in color. (You might need to drag the colored layer above the new b/w layer in order to see the pieces you want to select.) For Gibson’s tie, I used the lasso and for his eyes I used the magic wand. I did them one at a time and copied/pasted each selection into a new and separate layers for later use. I did this because I knew the tie was the right color but I wanted to adjust the color of his eyes and didn’t want that to effect the tie color.  You could also erase everything on the color layer except for the piece you want to keep color. It’s actually pretty cool to see the color disappear into b/w right in front of your eyes!

4) At this point you should have a few different layers and a little bit more work to do. To brighten his eye color, I selected the layer that contained the copied eyes and went back to Hue/Saturation. Click Colorize again and tinker around with the Hue until you get your desired color. I stopped when I felt it matched the tie and didn’t look too fake.

5) Once you have each piece the colors you want, it’s time to arrange the layers. The black & white later should be at the bottom and the color layers should be on top. You may have a full color layer which you can get rid of now.  Just right click on the layer and select Delete layer.

6) I wanted text on my image so I added a final layer with a text box and used the eye dropper to select the shade of blue I liked from his tie.

7) Be sure to save it as a .psd file before saving it as a .jpg or .png in case you ever want to go back and edit it again.


3 thoughts on “Making color pop on a black and white photo”

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