7 Simple Steps to Create a Colour Splash

Creating a colour splash in Photoshop, in an otherwise monochromatic world, is how some artists bring life to their artwork. This is an ideal tutorial for those wishing to brighten up your images by using your creative photo editing skills.

london bus red parliament colour splash bridge city
red coffee cup beans black and white hot steam
red car carpark mercedes colour splash cropped sports

An artistic colour splash is where we introduce colour to a black and white picture. Doing so can help create a focal point to tell a story through your 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.

flowers yellow bicycle colour splash
road yellow marking curves
mask paint yellow paintball splash colour

Knowing when, why and how to add a colour splash is what we are going to focus on. The when and why are important factors because getting it wrong could confuse an audience as to the point of the story. Therefore it is vital to 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, how getting it wrong can make your final image confusing as to what’s the story of the image;

lady umbrella city market blue walking

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;

lady red umbrella market walking colour splash

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’!

Always start off with a colour photograph because it is rather difficult to add colour to a greyscale image.

7 Simple Steps to Create a Colour Splash

Step 1

Take your photograph and desaturate the whole image using CTRL/CMD+U. This will bring up your Hue/Saturation tool or you can use the menu system and choose IMAGE> ADJUSTMENTS> HUE/SATURATION. Next, move the Saturation slider to -100 so it all goes black and white.

photoshop screen shot editing desaturation tool

Step 2

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

editing photoshop screenshot history brush

Step 3

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

photoshop screenshot editing post production photography colour splash

Step 4

Next, you need to select the History State before you made the image black and white. Since we have used the Hue/Saturation method to change our image to monochrome, we will use the History State before that, which in our example is called ‘Duplicate Image’. (Because we made a copy before we began but you don’t have to).

However, you could also use the original state at the very top of the panel and this will be labelled by the original name of the photograph (colour splash tutorial example copy – in our tutorial).

Click on the little box to the left of the History State that you select and you’ll see your History Brush icon appear. Now we are ready to go back in time!!

photoshop screen capture editing photography colour splash

Step 5

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

photoshop screen capture editing red umbrella brush photo editing colour splash

Step 6

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.

photoshop colour splash red umbrella editing screen capture

Step 7

Continue to paint across all areas where you want the 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 object!

red umbrella colour splash lady walking market

Colour Splash Tutorial Video

But if you’re the kind of person who prefers to see things in action, then watch our colour splash tutorial video instead;

And there you go, it’s as simple as 1,2,3!

There are other ways to create colour splashes but we find this method gives you the most control and precision. Why not create your own colour splash and share it with other iPhotography Students in the gallery?

We look forward to seeing your colourful results soon!

The iPhotography Team

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