Join 40,000+ subscribers and get the latest web design resources and tips directly in your inbox every Sunday morning.
50 Wonderful Black & White Photos with Partial Color Effects
The Photographer ToolboxUnlimited Downloads: 500,000+ Actions, Brushes, Web Templates, Themes & Design Assets
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].
This technique can take an otherwise dull image and make it vibrant by highlighting critical areas of beauty. And, as you will also notice, they can at times be very powerful.
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.
How to Create Black-and-White Photographs with Color Accents
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.
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.
Taking a black and white photograph and adding partial color effects to certain key points of the shot is one of the most popular techniques amongst professional photographers. You can understand its popularity when you look at the examples we have for you below.
Buddha In Wonderland A Greed Sleepwalker Herbstblatt – fallen leaves Colour my life with the chaos of trouble Sunset after the rain selective colour Princess Times Past By Love Waiting on a cool breeze! Ladybug Bird Eyes Banana Dewy Pine Leaf Uncurling Telephone in Selective Colour Chondro Selective Color The Boat & The Castle Rim & Caliper on 427R Roush Mustang El Vendedor de Colores Torre de los vientos Walk This Way A place to rest Racing Rainbow Gateway Cup St.
Louis Colors in B&W Kiss Kiss Love Yellow City Fighting to stay alive Montenvers Magie Poppins Orange bicycle We all livin’ in a blue tractor HHP Homecoming Football Viento State Park Red Seat Butterfly Goalkeeper Black and Blue Ground Squirrel Romabikepolo Boston1 Leaves Catlick Dandelion Taraxacum MyFest Cold drink.
Hot day A Little Red Car Cockerel Red Bridge Tutorials & Resources Black and White with a Splash of Colour (Photoshop Tutorial) Mono, with a Dash of Colour (Photoshop Tutorial) A Splash of Color in Your Black and White Black and White… with the occasional splash of colour (Beautiful Examples)
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.
At the bottom of this post we have added some tutorials to help you recreate this effect. Hope you enjoy our selection.