I have been experimenting over the last few weeks with converting photos (see more) to black and white but leaving one small element of colour in them such as the couple of photos with this article. I use an older version of Photoshop Elements (the junior version of Photoshop!) but the general technique should work with most photo editting programs.
The general method is to add a second layer of the same photo over the original and then convert that to black and white (by desaturating all the colour or similar). Small elements of the black and white photo are removed and the resultant colour unearthed from the lower layer shows through revealing the touch of colour.
Here’s the step by step guide using Photoshop Elements.
1. Seelct your favourite photo.
2. Click on Layer > New Adjustment Layer.
3. Select Gradient Map (and pick the black and white from the drop down). Note that the foreground colour is now black and the background colour is now white in readiness for step four below. Alternatively, select Hue/Saturation and move the saturation slider to zero.
4. Click on the white square that shows as the adjustment layer (see diagram right with red circle and click on it for a larger view). Ensure black is the foreground colour and use brush or pencil to colour over the element that you want to be coloured. Selection commands such as lasso and magic wand can be used to reduce the risk of colouring over the lines.
5. Relax if you colour over the lines. If you wish to convert some areas back to black and white, switch the foreground/background colour so the foreground colour is white and paint away removing the colour again (hitting “X” automatically swaps the two colours around).
6. Save as a .psd if you wish to work on it further but otherwise simply sit back and enjoy your handiwork.
I’d love to view some of your efforts – please share them in the comments below.