Thursday, January 20, 2011

Basic Postprocessing: Milder Selective Color Effect

Let's say you want to bring the viewer's attention to a selected portion of your image.  One way to do this is to use selective color, i.e. to allow that portion to remain in color while converting the surrounding areas into black and white.  It's a fairly common effect, and some post-processing applications can do this effect automatically.

Here's a demo using Picasa, the free post-processing app from Google.  In the original image, my wife's arm is much too bright and vivid, and is very distracting:

In Picasa, I applied the selective color effect (called "Focal B&W") to bring the focus on our daughter's expression:

I think it's an improvement from the original version.  However, the selective color effect is very prominent, and may not look appealing after a while. 

If you don't have the ability to control the opacity of the selective color effect, an easy alternative to soften the effect is to use warmify:
The result is that the surrounding areas are still de-emphasized and less saturated, but the effect doesn't call attention to itself.


  1. I didn't about that, I usually take the long route, in ACR I use the adjustment brush to paint the areas I want to convert to B&W and then decrease the saturation all the way, it take a very long time to make an accurate mask but I only do it when there are lots of colors distracting away from my subject.

  2. Thanks! I only discovered this recently by accident :)


Thanks for your comment. It will be published as soon as we get a chance to review it, sorry for that, but we get lots of spam with malicious links.