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It might seem a little bit silly to paint colors into an image you've converted to black and white, rather than simply keeping the original colors intact. But the effect can actually be quite nice and a lot of fun to create. Allow me to show you what I mean. I'll start off by converting this image to a black and white interpretation. At the bottom the Layers panel I'll click on the Add Adjustment Layer button, and then choose Black and White from the pop-up menu. I'll turn on the On Image Adjustment and then I can click and drag left or right, to darken or lighten specific values in the image based on their original color. So for example, to darken the sky, I can click in the sky and then drag to the left to darken.
I could easily drag to the right as well if I wanted to lightened the sky, but in this case I think I'll darken it up a bit. I can then click on additional areas of the image. For example, the corn field in the background here, I can click and drag to the left or right to darken or lighten. And the post for the basketball hoop here, I can adjust the values there. In this case I think I'll darken down that area of the image, and I can continue fine-tuning as I see fit. Once I have a basic black-and-white conversion created, I can apply color to the image by painting directly on the image.
Of course, not on my background image layer, but rather on a new layer, so I'll go ahead and click the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the layers panel, and immediately change the blend mode for this layer to Color. This will cause anything I paint on this layer to only effect the color of the underlying image. I'll go ahead and rename this layer so I know why it's been added. In this case I'll call it color painting, for example. And then I'm ready to get started with my painting. So, I'll choose the brush tool from the toolbox and then make sure that I'm working with a regular brush with a 0% hardness so my colors will blend in.
The blend mode should be set to normal on the Options bar. The color blend mode is only for the layer, not for the brush, and I'll make sure my opacity is at 100%. I can then click on my foreground Color Swatch to bring up the color picker, and I'll choose the h value in hsb so that I can choose a baseline color, and maybe I'll go with something of a cobalt blue. I can then click OK, and I'll adjust my brush size using the left and right square bracket keys, and I can paint color into the image. If I'm not happy with the color, I can simply Undo a step, so for example I'll choose Edit, undo the brush tool, and I'll bring up my color picker once again, and choose a less saturated color. In most cases I'll actually use a very subdued color for this effect. You could certainly use more exaggerated colors, but generally I find the effect is more pleasing with relatively modest colors.
That's looking much better, so I'll continue painting into the sky here. Now, very often when I'm using this technique I actually won't even try to paint exactly within the lines. I'll go maybe not all the way to the edge of the image, for example, and I might leave some areas without color. I also might blend the color into other areas of the image that don't actually need that color. For example, painting into the basketball hoop here, rather than just the sky. The idea is that I can create a more watercolor type of effect by not producing a perfect result.
Of course, this is largely a matter of personal taste, so you could certainly choose to paint exactly within the lines if you prefer. I'm going to click the Color Swatch for the foreground color, and then select a different color to use for the cornfield in the background. A shade of, sort of, yellow, I think here, will work out quite nicely. I'm really just trying to convey not so much the color of the corn in the background, but just a little bit more of a sepia type of effect back there. And then I can choose different color for the basketball hoop, for example, maybe a relatively muted sort of reddish-magenta tone.
And I'll reduce my brush since here, and then I can paint that effect into the image as well. Now obviously in this case I'm not being especially careful, in large part because I'm more focused on showing you the technique rather than a producing perfect result, but you can always go back and apply some corrections. Now one common problem that you might run into, is the need to get back to a color that you had been using previously. For example, I'd like to place some of this original yellow color over the red that has spilled out away from the basketball hoop here.
I can get that original color very, very easily. I'll go ahead and change the Blend mode for my color painting layer, to the normal blend mode, so we can see the actual color that we've been painting. And then I'll choose the Eyedropper tool on the toolbox, and simply click in an area that contains the color I want to use. I can then go back to my brush tool, and I'll change the blend mode back to the color blend mode. And now I can paint with that that shade of yellow to get rid of the red that had been painted outside of the basketball hoop there just a little bit too much, and in this way, I can continue adding colors or changing colors throughout the entire image, adjusting it to any desired outcome.
For example, I might even add the yellowish color onto the back board for the basketball hoop, here. Mostly, to get rid of the blue that is on there, but also to add a little bit of an older look, kind of that sepia tone type of quality, there we go. And I can continue painting throughout the image. As you can see, by painting color onto a black and white interpretation of an image, you're able to produce an interesting result that has a certain element of true color and yet has a more creative look than a straight color photograph.
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