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Selective Desaturation

A step-for-step Photoshop guide

A great and easy way to emphasize your main subject is to decolorize your image leaving only the main subject or parts of your image in color. It can be used to enhance photos that might not have had much impact if the whole image was in color or just simply to add an artistic look.

Best of all it’s extremely simple to do. Below you will find a step-by-step guide on how to decolorize an image using Photoshop CS. Photoshop Elements and other image-editing software will have the same capability although the method might be different.

First of all, open the image you want to edit in Photoshop. For this tutorial I will be using the image of a rose with a less than inspiring background:

You need to make sure that your history panel is visible. Go to Window and make sure that there is a check next to History. Your history panel should now be visible. Now it’s time to desaturate your image. Go to Image > Adjustments and select desaturate (or use Shift+CRL+L). Your image should now appear black and white. Select the history brush and start painting the areas you want to be in color.

Use a larger brush size for the larger areas, and a smaller brush size for the more detailed areas. You might want to zoom in when doing the edges. If you make a mistake, use the “step backward” action (CTRL+ALT+Z) and start again.

Getting everything just right may take some practice and you will need a steady hand. When done right the end result should look something like this:

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