Colour Splash Photography Tutorial

Colour splash photography in an otherwise monochrome world is how some artists view their delivery of artwork to the outside community, so this could be an ideal tutorial to those of you who wish to brighten up your lives through using your creative skills.

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What is Colour Splash Photography?

Colour splash photography is where we introduce colour to a black and white picture, which can help create a focal point to tell a story through our artwork.

It may be one object that is in colour and the rest of the scene is monochrome or it could be all traces of one colour across the whole scene, ultimately the choice of style is up to you.

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When to Use Colour Splash Photography?

Knowing when, why and how to add a colour splash is what we are going to look at today. The when and why are important factors as getting it wrong can confuse an audience as to the point of the story.

Make sure that your original photograph has a fairly obvious focal point to begin with – it could be a person, vehicle or object. Just make sure it’s in focus and clear in relation to the background.

You can see from this example below, how getting it wrong can make your final image confusing as to what’s the story of the image;

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But getting it right, as in this version, can make your message clearer and easily understood, more so than if the whole image was just in colour;

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7 Steps to Create Colour Splash Photography

Once you’ve got the hang on the when and why you should add a colour splash it’s time to move on to the how.

The trick is to colour splash photography is to start off with a colour photograph that has a very striking subject that you can isolate using this technique. Don’t choose a photo without a primary subject that you can easily isolate.

Street photography and still life can work well for colour splashes, whereas landscapes don’t because of the lack of colourful primary subject.

1. Desaturate the Photo

So, take your photograph and desaturate the whole image using CTRL/CMD+U, which will bring up your Hue/Saturation tool and then move the Saturation slider to -100 so it all goes black and white.

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2. Choose the History Brush

Press OK and now move over to your History Brush tool on the left-hand side vertical toolbar.

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3. Select the History Panel

Now once you’ve got your History Brush chosen you need to enable you History States panel, it may already be live on the right side of the Photoshop interface, but if not, don’t worry, simply go to Window > History and it will appear on screen.

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4. Choose the Previous State

You need to now select the history state before you made the image black and white, which is normally listed as Hue/Saturation since that’s the action we used to make it monochrome. Click on the little box to the left of the words Hue/Saturation and you’ll see your History Brush icon appear.

Now we are ready to go back in time!

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5. Brush Back in the Colour

The History Brush tool is going bring back all information from an earlier stage of our editing. With your History Brush selected, treat it just like the normal Brush tool and start painting on your photograph where you want the original colour to appear. Work slowly and be careful not brush in other colours you don’t want.

6. Change the Brush Size to Fit

Change the size and hardness of the brush by right-clicking whilst using and moving the sliders to your preference. 100% hardness is ideal for working close in and along defined edges.

7. Only Paint in the Areas You Need

Carry on painting across all areas where you want colour to appear. It may be just one colour or a couple, but don’t try to colour back in your whole photograph though, it defeats the objects!

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Colour Splash Photography: Final Words

Watch our tutorial video below if you prefer to see another way, using adjustment layers, to make a colour splash in Photoshop.

There are other ways to create colour splash photography but we find this method gives you the most control and precision over other methods. If you’re an iPhotography member, why not create your own colour splash?

Share it with us in the feedback gallery. Alternatively, tag us in your images on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We are looking forward to seeing your colourful results soon!


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