How to Make a Picture Black & White With a Little Color

By Michelle Norton

Striking black and white photographs with just a touch of color draw in the viewer's attention by highlighting certain objects in an otherwise monotone picture. The color elements may accent the piece or draw attention to the central elements of the photograph. Starting with a color photo, the procedure includes selecting the element that will remain in color while converting the rest of the photograph to black and white. The process varies depending on the image manipulation software however; the steps use the same features that are found in all image manipulation software.

Things You'll Need

  • Image manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop, or Gimp
  • Color photo

Step 1

Open the photo in your image manipulation software by choosing "File" and "Open."

Step 2

Select the entire image by pressing Ctrl A on your keyboard. Press Ctrl C to copy the photo.

Step 3

Click on "Edit" and choose "Paste as New Layer." Click on this layer to select it. Desaturate the image. Depend in on your image manipulation software this may be under the "Image" menu listed next to "Adjustments" or under the "Color" menu. If your software does not have a desaturate option choose "Hue and Saturation." When the window appears, move the Saturation slider all the way to the left and click "OK." Now your top layer should be black and white while the bottom layer is still the color image.

Step 4

Click on the Eraser brush. This looks like a small pink eraser button. Change the size to 10px.

Step 5

Click on the black and white layer and erase the part of the image you want in color. Work slowly using small strokes to reveal the color underneath the black and white image.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you cannot find the desaturate or hue and saturation tools in your image manipulation software use the help files to find these features. Click on the "Help" menu and click on "Help" again. A searchable file will open. Use the search function to search for "saturation."