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Adding Color Accents to a Black and White Photo

Created by: MMDM at Playing with Pixels
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Here is an easy way to add some striking color accents to a black and white photo, while retaining the original shading. It uses one of my favorite tools, the Color to Target tool.

Download the attachments for this tutorial  Download Files

If you don't have a photo ready for this tutorial you can download the one that I used in this tutorial.

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Images used in this tutorial have been optimized for faster downloading and will not appear as clear as you should expect photographs.

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First we will open your black and white photo and make a duplicate of it so we will not alter the original.

To duplicate an image:

With your image active, click [SHIFT+D]. An exact duplicate of your image will be created. Close your original image.

Now, we will make a duplicate layer within our new image to work on so that we can easily correct any mistakes.

To duplicate a layer:

On your layer palette, with your cursor on the Background Layer, right-click and select Duplicate. A new layer will be created that is an exact duplicate of your background. This is the layer we will work on.

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Now we will select the Color to Target tool and make sure the settings are where we want them.

To select the Color to Target tool:

Click on the Retouch Tool icon, which looks like a hand.

In version 7, you will choose Color to Target from the drop-down menu.
In version 6, click the second tab at the top of the Retouch Tool dialog box; the one that looks like two gears. Then choose Color to Target from the Retouch Mode drop-down menu.

Set your options to match the screenshot to the left. Brush size will depend on the size of the area you will be colorizing in your photo.

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Now we will choose a color and apply it.

To apply the color:

Make sure you have the color of your choice as the foreground color. In version 7, make sure that you also have Solid for the foreground style. Then simply color over the areas you want to accent.

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Notice on the image to the left how the original shading is retained, with no extra work on your part! I chose one shade of blue and the program colored the light parts of the spade with a light version of that color, and the dark parts with a dark version of that color. Is this program great, or what?

I wanted the water to be a paler shade of the same blue and not have quite so much "pop" so I adjusted the opacity on the Color to Target tool down to about 25% for the water.

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It looks nice to pick just a few areas to accent and leave the rest greyscale, but you can also colorize the entire photo with this method.

If colorizing an entire photo instead of just accent areas, I advise adjusting the opacity of the Color to Target tool down to something that looks more realistic.