Black and White with a Splash of Color Photosop Tutorial

One of the techniques people most often ask me to teach them is making a photograph like the one on the right that is black and white with one other colour.

Photo by Dariusz Lakomy
Photo by Dariusz Lakomy

There are a few ways to achieve this effect but here are two ones I find easiest for Photoshop users.

The First Way

1) Open a suitable photograph, this can be any subject but ideally it needs an area of bright colour that will have an impact when it’s finished while the rest of the photo looks good in black and white. For example:

Photo by Kaz Watanabe
Photo by Kaz Watanabe

2) Then make a copy of a layer with the image. Right click on a layer with the image and choose “Duplicate the layer” from the context menu. You’ll get a new copied layer as you see on the picture below.


3) Now go back to first layer with the image and turn it black and white using the “Black & White” button on the right side.


4) Select the Eraser Tool from the tool menu on the left of the screen (usually the fifth icon down in the right hand column), set hardness to 100% and choose a suitable eraser size to work with on the section of the photo you want to put in colour.


5) Now use the eraser and go over the area you want without colour, it will erase the color and bring it to the black and white, demonstrating black and white background layer. You may need to zoom and work close up on some sections. Take your time and change eraser sizes if you need to. Here is my result image:


6) And one more tip, in order to make a picture more realistic you can reduce the Opacity and Fill of the colored layer to 80 %. I hope you’re satisfied with the final image:


The Second Way

1) Open the image you like in Photoshop. It should be similar to the previous one, I mean it has to have an area for bright colors. This time I took a photo with a blue butterfly on the blurred background.

Photo by Dariusz Lakomy
Photo by Dariusz Lakomy

2) Take a Polygonal Lasso Tool from the left sidebar menu. This tool helps you to select the area you need and cut or copy it, or do with it whatever you need.


3) Using Polygonal Lasso Tool select the area of the butterfly you want to be colored and right click on it with the mouse. There should be a drop down menu, choose “Layer via Copy”.


It means that the selected and cropped area is copied to a new layer.

4) Then get back to the previous layer with the image and turn it black and white in the way you know. You can use the piece of advice I gave you in a previous part of tutorial.

And this is it! Here is the result image I’ve got:


Showcase of Black and White Photos with a Splash of Color

It’s that simple! Here are a few more examples to give you inspiration:

Rush Hour Colour Splash by Sean B


Blossom Lane by David Middleton


Yang Ming Ship by Joram Huyben


Call Me a Cab by 4Eyes Photography


Difference by Paris Mckenzie


Color Splash by Azra Ferhatovic


Robin by Nandan M


Color Vision by Daniel Smith Photography


Cherry by Ssuada Isaki


A Splash of Color by Lucyannn


Coca Cola by Ben Alford


Splashes of Color by Believer9


Love by Georgia H.


Sad Face by Gonzalez


Colorsplash M&M’s by Steve Jurell


Splash of Color by WAPPY AL


Greek Beach Color Splash NYLonboy89


A Splash of Color by Broken Beloved


Color Splash Butterfly by Malice Umbra


Gazania Color Splash


London Underground by Milad Alizadeh


Learning CS6 by Tony Hagan


Splash of Color by Hollie Kalinski


Sammy Color Splash by J. B. Woods


Lemons by Crymartgurl


Painted Daisies


Autumn is Coming by Victor Photography


London by Andrew Mccartney


Yellow Equals Caution by Lindsy Carranza


Splash of Color Collage by Pamipipa


Tottenham Courtroad Station by Milad Alizadeh


The Rose by Andy Nicolaides


Tourist Trap by Andy Nicolaides


Where the Eye Falls by Joel Marine


Cold Feet by Adam JOnes


Nikon by Jasine Lazo


Color Splash by heavendew


Color Splash Sunset Flower by solonaxdawn


Gronkowski Color Splash by iColorSplash


Sheldon by Rachel Brown


Luke with Light Saber by Jeff Graham


Black and White with a splash of Color by Steven Munden


Coca Cola by Alasdair Gauld


To infinity by Sharil Patrale


Marley Thirsts by Brandon Tigrett


La Fuente by Adrian gomez


Straberry by Alice T.


Ready or nOt By Rachel Baker



Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and feelings which methoв you like the best and why. This technique can be used for almost any photo you like. And I bet you, please dare to share your final results with us!


  1. Another easy method for this is to create a duplicate layer. Change the duplicate layer to black and white (what ever process you prefer) and place it on top of the colored layer. Now just delete out what you want to show in color. The process is quick and simple. Especially for us hacks that are using GIMP.

  2. My favorite method (in PS CS3) is to create a B/W adjustment layer, which gives tremendous control over the B/W conversion, and then use the layer mask on it to reveal the color portion. Layer masks are far more flexible than simply erasing parts of a layer. Quick, relatively simple, and very flexible.

  3. I’m not aware of a way to do this in iPhoto unfortunately. Both the methods mentioned by the previous commentors are also great ways to achieve this effect but won’t work in iPhoto because the program doesn’t give you enough editing options for this kind of thing.

  4. This can be done easily in Photoshop Elements 6. Open your original photo. Duplicate the layer…name it B&W. Then, convert the duplicate layer (B&W) to black and white. Select that layer. Then, choose Quick Selection tool and out line the area you want colorized. Once this is done simply goto the Menu bar, choose Edit and then cut. Or, use the Eraser Tool and just remove the color from the area of the photo you want.

  5. when i try this, and use the history brush, it doesnt pick up the colour, it only makes white lines. And yes, I did make sure it was on RGB color. =P

  6. Wendy-Bob try this <a href=””tutorial for Paintshop Pro .

  7. I found this article, and started playing, but I think I found an even better way with photoshop. Instead of using a brush to restore the color, start first by using the “magic wand” tool to select areas where you want to keep the color. This is easier than using a brush, as you simply click and it selects all contiguous areas with that color. Keep clicking until everything is chosen – read up on the “magic wand” to get better at it.

    Then, with everything selected, go to “Layers” and choose “New –> Layer via Cut”. Then, make sure the main layer is selected (right side) and select “Image –> Adjustments –> Desaturate” as the original article said. You should now see your picture in B&W with the color highlights you had selected. To finish, put the layers back together with “Layer –> Flatten Image” and you’re done!

  8. is it possible to create this effect without photoshop?
    i dont have it and i was wondering if there was an alternative? thankyou:]

  9. I must say that your selections are not that tidy, you might want to put more effort in “staying within the lines” 😉

  10. Now I know he didn’t hand select each and every leaf on the scene of the “Blossom Lane” photo. They make software (hard to find) that will let you pick a color with an eyedropper tool and everything except for that color will be turned to black and white, while everything that is that color will remain.

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