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Quick and Easy Spot Color in a Black and White Photo - Photoshop Tutorial

Allen Harkleroad

This Photoshop image editing tutorial illustrates how to use the quick mask to add color to a converted black and white photo.

I love using the quick mask tool in Photoshop. I suspect many people never use it, forgot about it or weren't aware at how easily it can be used to make masks of objects in a photo. The quick mask tool can be used for all kinds of tasks besides the use of it in this tutorial. Using this tool takes me back years ago when we used "rubylin" (red acetate sheets) to cover areas of an image for spot colors applications. Wherever the rubylin covered an area of a photograph color was added to these areas during printing. Of course this method predates image editing programs. In any case using the quick mask tool is a quick and easy to add color to a black and white photograph.


To begin with open a color image in Photoshop and duplicate the layer in the layers panel.


Make sure you have the top layer selected and click the "Quick Mask" tool icon at the bottom of the Photoshop tool panel.


Next, select the brush (or pencil) tool from the tool panel and zoom the image top 200-300 percent so you can see the edges of the object you want to show in color on the black and white photograph. In the example I choose a 10 pixel hard edge brush.



Now draw around the inside edge of the object you wish to remain colored in your soon to be black and white photo. Adjust the brush size as necessary to keep the mask close to the object edges.


Once the edges of the object are outlined with the quick mask tool it is time to fill in the mask.


I selected a larger brush size that will fit into the smaller nooks and crannies of the initial object outline as I want to stay in the object outline and completely fill the object area.




The entire object is now covered with the quick mask tool.


Once you are satisfied that the are is completely covered click the quick mark icon on the tool panel and when you to everything but the object in the be selected.

Note: You can select more than one object by using the above method if you prefer to have more color objects in the folder.


Next I go to to top Photoshop menu and choose Image > Adjustments > Black and White and the above dialog will appear.


I decided that in the photo i wanted the brighter areas of the photo to be more pronounced, so I adjusted the color sliders until I had the effect that I wanted.


Once I had the desired black and white effect I click ok on the Black and White adjustment tool panel.


I then deselect the black and white area and the photo is complete. After looking at it though I decided that the color was a bit too bright so I went back to the top Photoshop menu and clicked Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation.


I dropped the saturation level to minus 54 and clicked okay.


Now I have a finished image with a bit of faded color for the azalea bush. I think it turned out rather nicely.


© Copyright 2011, Allen Harkleroad, All Rights Reserved


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