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Another excellent use of Camera Raw's Adjustment Brush is to achieve a selective color effect. Typically, the majority of the image appears as grayscale and only the primary subject remains in color when you use this technique. Now, there are two different ways that we can do it, and I'm going to walk you through both of them. So the first way would be to simply select the Adjustment Brush. You can tap the K key on the keyboard to select it. And then make sure that all of the sliders are set to 0, except for the Saturation slider, which we'll take to -100.
Now, in this image, it's going to be quite easy to change the background area to grayscale if we turn on Auto Mask. I'll use the right bracket in order to get a larger brush, and you can see that in this brush, there are crosshairs right in the middle. Those crosshairs, I can drag anywhere in the background, but I don't want to drag them on top of the green leaves, because if I drag the crosshairs on top of the leaves, it will sample that color and then try to take that to grayscale.
Well, I don't want the leaves grayscale. So let's start painting, and I'm just going to be sure that I don't put the crosshairs underneath or on top of those leaves. So I can go in between them. I can go ahead, and paint everywhere else, just being careful that the crosshairs don't go over the leaves. Of course, I can let go and then start painting again. This doesn't all have to be done in one simple stroke. You can let go as many times as you want. And we'll just work our way around the image.
Because I've got this Auto Mask turned on, there might be some areas that I've missed. So let's go ahead and show the mask and then we can turn off the Auto Mask and just go in and paint in some of these areas that we might have accidentally skipped over. And I'll use the left bracket key to get a smaller brush and just paint out over here. Now, I'll do this rather quickly so we don't waste a lot of time. I think we've got that the way we want it. I will toggle off the mask. And I might turn on Auto Mask just one more time, because there might be a few areas in here that I actually want to convert to grayscale.
I'm just not sure that you're going to be able to see them onscreen, because they're almost grayscale to begin with. Once I've got the areas converted to grayscale, the nice thing about this technique, and doing it this way, is I've created the mask for that whole background area. So, not only can I change that so that it appears to be grayscale, because I've got the pin still selected, we can add additional options. So, for example, if I wanted to take the exposure down a little bit in the background, I can do that in order to make the plant kind of pop forward. Or if I wanted to, say, colorize the background, we could add a color wash by clicking in the color swatch here and then adding like a tint, maybe a yellow tint or an orangeous tint to the background.
It all just depends on what you want to do to separate the background from the leaves. I actually prefer it without, so we'll just reset that to 0 and click OK. Now, if I tap the P key, we can toggle on and off the preview, and you can see that by spending just a few minutes in here with the brush set to Desaturate as well as changing the exposure, we've really made a dramatic impact to the image, in that the leaves really look much more separated from the background. Now, the second way that we can do this, we'll need to reset the file.
So I'm going to hold down the Option key. You notice when I hold down the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on Windows, the Cancel button turns to Reset. So I'll go ahead and click Reset. Now, what this technique will do is it's actually going to take the whole image to appear as if it's grayscale and then we can selectively just paint in a specific area that we want in color. So to do this, let's go back to the Basic panel, and the way I did that was I just tapped the Z key.
That will put back my Adjustment Brush. You could also tap the K key. That would toggle off Adjustment Brush. Then we'll click on the Basic panel. You don't want to use the Saturation or Vibrance sliders. Don't go here; instead come over to HSL and Grayscale, and just take the color ranges down in saturation to -100. You don't actually have to drag the sliders. I can just click on the far-left side of the slider in order to bring those all down.
Now, it appears as if the entire image is grayscale, but of course, everything here is nondestructive. So it's just showing me that it's in grayscale. But I can go back to my Adjustment Brush, and instead of loading a negative saturation, I'll load in positive saturation, and we'll make sure to take off that negative exposure. But now, wherever I paint, I'm going to be painting back in the color from the image. So the HSL panel just simply hid the color, and now I can use the Adjustment Brush in order to paint in, selectively, wherever I want that color to appear.
Now, the nice thing about doing the technique this way is that I can now go back to the HSL panel. So I'll tap the K key to get back to my panels. And if I decide that I don't want the whole background to be solid grayscale, if I want to bring back some of the colors, I can simply set these sliders up a little bit to bring back some of that color. It's two very different kinds of effects that you get. There are advantages of using both of them.
You kind of need to analyze what the end goal is of your image and then pick the technique that will work best for you.
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