How to Make a Selective Coloring Effect in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial, we’ll learn an easy way to create a popular selective coloring effect. Selective coloring effect is editing a picture by converting a photo to black and white while leaving the main subject in full color. If it sounds complicated or time consuming, it’s not, believe me. It’s okay if you know nothing about how to use layer mask yet, or other tools that sounds alien. All we need to make this stunning coloring effect is only pen tool, selection tool, and adjustment tool. Simple isn’t it?

Well, here I use Photoshop CC on windows. If your Photoshop still CS6, CS5, or the other it is okay because basically they’re almost the same, and the new one only has richer features. Okay, let’s get started:

Here’s the image I’ll be using for this tutorial:


For my image, I want to leave the guy in the middle while converting everything to black and white.

Step 1: Open your wanted picture on Photoshop


You can open your picture by press ctrl+O as well, and then choose whatever picture that you want to edit. Ah, and don’t forget to duplicate your picture by press Ctrl+J. This is not a must, but I usually do that just in case I need them. Here, I duplicate the picture layer three times.


Step 2: Select Your Main Subject


You can see, my subject is the guy in the middle. Basically you can use selection tool of your choice ( Lasso Tool, Quick Selection Tool, Pen Tool, etc) but I prefer Pen Tool because it’s more accurate since my subject have smooth and curved edges. But, of course, your photo will be different and different selection tool may work better on your photo. Well, now draw a selection outline around the main subject of your photo. When you’re done, you should see an outline like the picture above.

When your picture is just something like what’s mine above, now you can select your picture by click on the right of your cursor/ mouse, and then you’ll see something like this:


Click on make selection, and then you’ll see something like this:


Here, I left the Feather Radius 0 and then click OK.


Your picture will have already selected.

Steps 3: Invert The Selection

Since now we have our main subject selected, but what we actually need is everything except the main subject to be selected, which means we need to invert our selection. Go up the Select menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose inverse, just like this:


Or, for a faster way to invert a selection. Just press Shift+Ctrl+I on your keyboard.

You may have to look to notice what happened since the initial selection outline will still be around your subject, but you should now see a second selection outline around the edges of your image. And this tells us that everything in the image except the main subject is now selected.


Steps 4: Make the Rest of the Subject Black & White

Believe it or not, we’re almost done! Go up the Images menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose Adjustments and then Desaturate. or if you want to be quicker just press Shift+Ctrl+U on your keyboard.


After we’ve done, just deselect the selection by go up the Select menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose Deselect or press Ctrl+D.


And we’ve done. So the result will be look like this:


And yeah! There we have it! That’s how to quickly add a selective coloring effect to an image with Photoshop! Check out other tutorial and also design tips and trick on my blog. And always keep in mind that “Practices makes perfect”. See you on the next post, Adios fellas.


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