View Full Version : Photography - Photoshop black and white to color.

8th September 2011, 11:28

I waas doing some tests in photoshop with the "brush" tool after converting color images to black/white.
I convert them to monochrome and then with brush tool i gave it back some color only in same areas.
It give a nice effect, but, after i save the image i loose the "history" of image and i am not able to continue with brush later....
anyone can give me a tip on how to do it?

---------- Post added at 11:28 ---------- Previous post was at 11:20 ----------

Here you have 2 examples of brush tool from 2 photos i took in Roterdam and amesterdam long time ago.


The brush is very easy to do, but i had to do it in one session only, after save, i can't do it again, maybe history/track of color is lost...
can i save it so i can continue later?

8th September 2011, 13:11
I can't see your images.

However I can still offer some tips. Firstly how are you converting your images to B/W? If you are using the standard "convert to B/W", desatuate, or actually converting the image to B/W then it won't give you very good B/W images as they will be very dull images with limited saturation and contrast. The best advantage of B/W images over colour is the ability to have a lot more contrast to create more dramatic results. It is said that B/W can have roughly 10 times more contrast compared to colour images.

The first thing to do when working with Photoshop is never to edit the original image. Always duplicate the layer and work on that. This way you will always have the original easily to hand for reference, or if you want to duplicate it again to work on it some more.

For the actual B/W conversion:

A best traditional way to convert your images into B/W is to use the Photoshop channel mixer. Image>adjustments>Channel Mixer. Ticking the Monochrome tick box and then playing around with the colour sliders to get the best balance. The ability to adjust the percentages of each colour is a huge advantage as it allows you to control how each colour channel is converted. Red is especially important because often an automated process will wash out its contrast and you would never have known it wasn't grey or white.

In the latest versions of Photoshop a new option Image>adjustments>Black and White gives a very similar system of conversion that the Channel Mixer does, but it gives a lot more control over different colour ranges. It also has a cool feature of being able to tint B/W images to make them look old or colour tinted. Never use the Auto button though as this never gives the best results.

Finally there is a third method which will allow you to convert the image into B/W but is none destructive. This means you can come back later and further adjust the channel settings for the B/W conversion, and also play around with the images mix a bit more if needed. To do this you use adjustment layers. Firstly duplicate your original layer and select the duplicate. Now click the adjustment layer icon (at the bottom of the layers window and looking like a circle with B/W halves) and select "Black and White" from the list. This does the same as the full Black and White image adjustment but isn't permanent. As soon as you select this the image will turn B/W and you should see the Adjustments window now has the same controls for adjusting the channels as the full B/W conversion window did. You can now adjust these, but importantly you can come back later and still adjust them some more. It doesn't have quite as much control as the full took, but this final method is the one I generally use as it gives the most control throughout the whole image editing process.

For the brush method you are using to add colour back into the image I will need to see your images to see what you are trying to achieve. It isn't possible to save the Photoshop history after closing the image and/or Photoshop. However there are none destructive ways of adding colour back into a B/W image. The 2 main ones are to use channel and layer masks to selectively add colour to specific areas of the image. You can also use the colourise feature for some interesting effects.

The main method I would use for painting colour back into a B/W image is to create a duplicate layer of the original colour image and place it directly under the B/W version. You can then alter the colours of the duplicated colour version however you wish. Next on the B/W later above it add a layer mask. The quickest way to do this is using Quick masks. Select the B/W layer and then press Q. This will switch you into Quick Mask mode. You can now paint onto the image with any brush or editing tools you like and they will only be editing the layer mask and not the image itself. Layer masks work by revealing and masking the next layer below them. You can therefore add to the mask to cover the next layer, or erase from the layer to reveal the layer below. Doing this you can reveal just the parts of the colour image below that you wish to add into your B/W image. And you can keep editing a layer mask as much as you like. You could also combine with this masking paths to knock out a specific object in an image so it is the only object in colour for example.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

A complete alternative. Have you ever used Adobe Photoshop Lightroom? This is a separate program to the full Photoshop and is designed specifically for Photographers. I often use it instead of Photoshop when I want to adjust images but not actually work on them much more than making them look as good as possible. The core of Lightroom is similar to the bridge image library program in Photoshop. It allows you to import whole libraries of your images for quick navigation and adjustment. The biggest feature of Lightroom is that everything you do to any images in it are none destructive. The program does not alter the original images or saves over the top of them. Instead it saves all changes into its own database so they can continue to be adjusted later or the changes completely reversed if wished. At the end of the process you can tell the program to save copies of all your adjusted images into a new folder and many other features. It's also great for printing photos because you can adjust the contract, saturation, balance etc for printing, but know you are not actually messing around with the original images.

8th September 2011, 13:55
Great info Harrison.
i am using the
"Photoshop channel mixer. Image>adjustments>Channel Mixer. Ticking the Monochrome tick box and then playing around with the colour sliders to get the best balance"

that is the way am im using. Can't you see the images, i just try now, and they load well....

I try in a different computer, with chrome, and they didnt' load.... but if you press right mouse click, and copy the link, they will work....
strange.... can you try copy the link?

or maybe with direct links:


---------- Post added at 13:55 ---------- Previous post was at 13:45 ----------

hum... lightroom looks goog, i will try it ! thanks

8th September 2011, 14:08
I still couldn't see any image in the actual posts, but your direct links work OK.

Look good.

For what you have done with the images I would definitely recommend you trying Quick Masks/Layer Masks. They are a very useful thing to learn how to use in Photoshop and allow adjusting after creation. Paths are also another useful thing to look at because you can create layer masking paths in Photoshop that use the path tool, which creates vector masking paths, and therefore allows you to edit them and adjust the masks later. Very useful.