Hand-coloring has been used by photographers for over a century to add color to black and white photographs. This was done by hand painting the photograph with oil or watercolor paints. Unlike toning, which applies the same color to the entire image, selective coloring applies one or more colors to specific parts of the image.
The usual way to apply selective color is to use a mask and a solid color layer to apply color to specific parts of the image. However, by using Color Range selection and curves, you can create a more subtle look.
Steps in Photoshop
- Create a new layer folder and move all the black and white conversion layers into it.
- Toggle off the conversion folder.
- Select the color layer.
- Use the eye dropper tool to sample the color of the sky.
- Set parameters to Sampled Colors, 175, Selection, and White Matte. Click OK.
- All things that are the same color as the sky should now be selected. For example, it will also select the blue sky reflected in the windows.
- With the sky selected create a new curves layer.
- Adjust the curves to boost the saturation of the blue channel. In this case I raised the blue channel, lowered the red channel and the overall brightness on the RGB channel. Click OK.
- Rename the curves channel “Sky Blue”. Move “Sky Blue” to the top of the stack.
- Repeat steps 4, 5, 6 and 7, but this time select the brick building. Everything that’s the same color as the brick building should now be selected. For example, it will also select the brick pavement.
- With the red brick building selected create another curves layer.
- Adjust the curves to boost the saturation of the red channel. In this case I raised the red channel and lowered the overall brightness on the RGB channel. Click OK.
- Rename the new curves channel “Brick Red”. Move ‘Brick Red” to the top of the stack.
- Turn on the black and white conversion layer.
- Adjust the opacity of “Sky Blue” and “Brick Red”