How To Create a Selective Color Photo Effect in Adobe Photoshop

everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial for Adobe
Photoshop. Today I’m going to show you how to create
a popular photo effect that goes by many names, including selective colour photography, spot
color photography, colour isolation photography, partial colour photography, colour splash
photography, colour accent photography and many many more. No matter what you want to call it, it’s where
a photograph is converted to black and white with a single colour preserved to highlight
specific areas. This simple photo effect is often slammed
for being overused, so we’ll also throw in some additional techniques to mix up the result
with subtle toning and cross processing effects. To begin we need a photograph that has a bright
colour that we can highlight. This effect is most commonly used with red
areas, but any colour can be selected. I’m using this photo of a cute little puppy
from It has a nice bright red bucket that we can
focus on, as well as the dog’s collar. Head to Select>Color Range. In the dropdown menu there’s a range of preset
colour channels we could choose, one of which is Reds, however the red hue in a photograph
isn’t always a perfect red. Instead, choose Sampled Colour and click on
your artwork to determine which area should be selected. Toggle on the Localized Color Clusters option
and alter the fuzziness slider so the selection applies to the lighter and darker tones of
your sampled colour. Choosing the Black Matte preview mode is useful
to visually see the area that is being captured in the selection. Click OK to make the selection, then go to
Select>Inverse. Apply a Black and White adjustment layer to
convert the image to black and white, while automatically applying this selection as a
layer mask, which allows the original red portions of the image to show through. If your photograph has areas of red in the
background that you don’t want highlighting, you can use the brush tool to mask these areas
by painting them with white. I quite like the dog’s collar being highlighted
in red in this example, so I’ll Undo that additional masking. That’s the basic effect complete, but let’s
finish it off with a few extra processing techniques. Add a Levels adjustment layer and boost the
contrast by dragging the shadows and highlights sliders inwards slightly. The matte effect is really popular in photography
circles at the moment. This can be quickly replicated by adjusting
the Black Output Level slider. Dragging it inwards will convert the blacks
to a darker grey. Since the red portions of the image are meant
to stand out, we can use a Vibrance adjustment layer to boost the colour even further. Unlike Saturation, vibrance doesn’t blow out
the colour as much. Even though the majority of the image is black
and white, a subtle split toning effect will give the image an interesting processed look. Split toning is when analog photos were developed
with Selenium and Sepia to add silvery blues in the shadows and yellowy browns in the highlights. We can replicate the effect in Photoshop by
adding a Color Balance adjustment layer. Change the drop down menu to Shadows and move
the sliders to add more Cyan and Blue. Values of around -10 and +13 work well. Switch to the Highlights and move the slider
to add more yellow and a touch of red, such as +7 and -13. Tweak the overall colour hues with the Midtones
with small values changes like +7 and -5. The image still has a black and white appearance
but toggling the Color Balance layer off and on shows the difference this subtle split
toning effect has to the photograph. The most recognisable transformation is the
red highlights though, which draw the eye into specific areas of the image and give
it a nice artsy appearance. Combining these different processing techniques
helps generate some really interesting photographs. So I hope this tutorial helps you out. If you enjoyed the video or learnt any new
techniques be sure to stick around for more by subscribing to the Spoon Graphics Youtube
channel, or join my mailing list at to receive notifications of all my videos,
written tutorials, free resources and design inspiration. So as always thank you very much for watching,
and I’ll see you in the next one.

19 Replies to “How To Create a Selective Color Photo Effect in Adobe Photoshop”

  1. You really deserve more views and subscribers. Your videos are such high quality even though your views are low compared to what they should be. Never stop making videos mate. 🙂

  2. WOW that is way better than the pen tool clipping I've been doing. Thanks for the tip – I just subscribed – can't wait to see what else you can teach me 😀

  3. Join my mailing list at Spoon Graphics if you want to keep up with all my other content. Every subscriber gets a FREE design resources bundle! 📦

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