How to Create Black-and-White Photographs with Color Accents
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A good alternative to Color Pop Effects that includes similar features for a lower price.
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For such a complex effect, it’s an easy one to achieve with modern editing software. The specific process for the program you use may vary slightly, but the instructions on the next two pages will give you a big head start toward learning to add color accents to black-and-white photos.
This app is actually built to make Portrait Mode style photos on any device (even unsupported ones) but it also has a cool feature that lets you make the background black & white. This effectively gives you two-for-one, letting you optionally blur the background while also selecting which areas in the foreground to keep in colour. Bonus!
The use of color accents in a black-and-white photograph is an old technique — older, in fact, than color photography. (Originally, the color was painted onto photographic prints.) The trick goes in and out of vogue with advertisers, but peruse any magazine rack long enough and you’re almost guaranteed to find at least one example. And although this special effect is most often found in professional photography, modern photo editing software puts it within easy reach of any interested amateur.
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You might have seen photos that feature this dramatic effect: one object in color with the rest in black and white. Here are the best apps and tutorials that show you how to recreate this effect.
Desaturate the entire image (make the whole image black and white)Use a paintbrush to highlight the parts that you want to colorErase the sections that you unintentionally colored and neaten up the effect.Best apps for selective color effectColor Wow
If you have Adobe Premiere, try this tutorial for desaturating videos except for one color:
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But in an era when color photography can capture the most subtle shades nature throws at us, why does black-and-white photography still hold such sway? Part of the answer has to do with how we’re wired to process visual information. Color is a powerful force for driving our focus — the hunter-gatherer instincts that helped us spot animals hiding in the bush now draw us to pick out the color that doesn’t seem to belong in a scene. Take away the color from even a familiar image, however, and our minds are thrown for a perceptual loop. We may impose remembered hues on an object seen in black-and-white, but we’re also likely to become much more aware of the texture, patterns and shading in the image. These attributes would still be there in a color photo, but they take front-and-center in black-and-white.
Although this app is available for free, all of the best features are for sale and at just $0.99, it’s very good value. This app uses a different method to the other featured apps: Use the eye dropper tool to highlight which color you want to remain colored. The rest of the video frames will be converted to black and white.
Color Pop Effects Photo Editor uses the same method mentioned above: decolor the image and then highlight the parts you want colored. Change the hue of your selected color to create some cool effects (e.g. make your pink watermelon look blue instead).
Photoshop gives you more control over the colors of your photos than apps ever could. It’s good to learn how to create these effects on your own to get the most control. Envira Gallery wrote an excellent Photoshop tutorial:
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Think about how many times you’ve flipped through a magazine and seen it: a black-and-white image spread across the page, with a bold splash of color highlighting part of the scene. Maybe it’s the blue eyes of a model, or the bright plumage of a bird as it wings across the page, but that simple break from the monochrome background draws your eye and captures your attention.
Using this method rather than the “Paint to color” method allows you to use this method on videos without having to individually color every frame.
Adding a selective splash of color to a black-and-white image leverages the most powerful features of both black-and-white and color photography. The color provides striking contrast that immediately draws your eye to the colorized subject — most often the main focal point of the photo. You instinctively scan the rest of the picture and pick up on the emphasized pattern and texture play against the color contrast, causing a truly enhanced viewing experience [sources: Design-Lib; Morton; Ghodke].
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Available for free on iPhone/iPad and Android devices, paid upgrades available.
There are many different names for the same effect: color pop, color burst, color splash, desaturate all colors except one, and selective colorization. You can search for any of these terms in the App Store or Google Play Store to find apps that do what you want.
Color Wow is one of the most flexible apps you can use to selectively color your photographs. Tap your photo to select the color you want to remain coloured while the rest changes to grayscale. It also includes a nice additional feature that allows you to change the highlight color of the final image. For example, you could take a black and white image with a yellow taxi and make it blue instead.