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  1. #1
    Small Photo Business Dave E.'s Avatar
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    Question B&W with color retouching question

    I would really like to take a crack at learning how to prepare a B&W image with a small segment, e.g. flowers retouched with color. The classic use of this is a B&W of a bride with her flowers receiving just a hint of color.

    I have access to PhotoShop 5.5 and PaintShop Pro 7 software. Can one of you computer pros give me some sound and practical instructions/recommendations. Remember, I basically stink at digital imaging enhancement.

    I looked at retouching materials from Kodak, but its much too pricey.

    -Dave-

  2. #2
    Ghost
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    A quick tutorial

    Hi Dave,

    The amount of "skill" involved for something like this ranges from NOVICE to GODLY (hope that doesn't offend).

    I can help with the novice suggestions and then you can practice from there or learn other techniques.

    Working in Photoshop is all about confining changes. Your example is a perfect one when discussing confining change because we all know what to do. "I only want to add color to the flower and everything else should remain the same".

    There aren't any magic tools where you can type into Photoshop "only paint the flower" so don't bother looking

    Every image has different approaches that could work for it. I went ahead and did a very quick example of how you could achieve the effect you're asking in a B&W photo. I hope it'll generate some ideas. While I used Photoshop CS, I don't think Photoshop 5.5 is too far out to be very similar.

    In this example I don't worry too much about confining changes, I simply use the paintbrush tool to carefully paint in color where I want it. This method is quick and dirty and gets the job done:

    Photo 1: The original image.

    Photo 2: I created a new layer on top of the background layer I want to add color to and set its blending mode to "Overlay"

    Photo 3: I chose a color in the color box and then selected the brush tool. I also set the brush properties for an appropriate brush size and edge softness. You'll want to experiment to get the right brush for the job.

    Photo 4: This is the hard part. I zoomed in 100% and very carefully painted with the paintbrush. The result is what you see.

    Photo 5: If you're not happy with the color but don't want to lose all that hard work you did with the paintbrush then you have all kinds of options. One option that quickly comes to mind is adjusting the opacity of the Layer 1 layer. I'm not personally happy with how bright the red is so I'm going to make it look more like a sephia tone by adjusting the layer opacity. Notice I adjusted the opacity to 55%. That gives me the result I was looking for.

    Photo 6: Let's assume that we're not happy with the red color and we want a blue ladybug instead. It's actually quite simply. Load up the Hue/Saturation tool found under Image/Adjustments and check the "Colorize" option. Now slide the "Hue" slider until you get the color you want. You may have to adjust the Saturation slider as well.

    And that's all there is to it! You can just create additional layers for the petals of the flower and a layer to colorize the center of the flower. It would probably be wise to separate your color adjustments as much as possible but this is the easiest way to get the job done. There are better, smarter ways to do this as well but this should get you started.

    I went ahead and painted the rest of the photo to give you an idea of what a final result might look like in the last photo (Photo 7)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails B&W with color retouching question-1.jpg   B&W with color retouching question-2.jpg   B&W with color retouching question-4.jpg  
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  3. #3
    Ghost
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    The last few photos...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails B&W with color retouching question-5.jpg   B&W with color retouching question-6.jpg   B&W with color retouching question-7.jpg  

  4. #4
    Small Photo Business Dave E.'s Avatar
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    Pictures and everything!

    This is exactly what I need. So I will practice and see what I come up with. Thanks a ton!!!!!

    -Dave-

  5. #5
    don't tase me, bro! Asylum Steve's Avatar
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    Good lesson, just wanted to add...

    ...a few tips from my own workflow.

    Trevor shows his examples at 100% , but of course, you're not restricted to that view. When coloring highly detailed areas of a photo, it's usually more accurate (and easier) if you bump the magnification up. I often use 500% or more to get a real good look at the edges of an area on a pixel level. The original size of your image will determine what magnification gives you the clearest view.

    You can keep this magnified view seperate from the normal view (so you don't have to keep zooming in and out) by giving it its own window in ps. Click WINDOW>ARRANGE>NEW WINDOW FOR (will be followed by your file name). In earlier versions of ps I believe it's WINDOW>DOCUMENTS>NEW WINDOW. You can now toggle between the closeup window and the full size one.

    Instead of painting an area with the brush tool, it's often quicker to select the entire area, then simply FILL it with the color. This is especially true with fully contained areas with hard edges. Use the COLOR RANGE selection tool for large simple sections of the same tone. For trickier areas (with irregular borders), the pen tool marking a path then converting to a selection works well. Keep in mind that sometimes the color will look better if you feather your selection, and don't forget you can save selections if you want to go back later and work on the same area.

    If you decide to create your color area with a selection, another good way to add color is IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>SELECTIVE COLOR. Depending on the tonality of the selected area, choose WHITES. NEUTRAL, OR BLACK (or any combination). You then move the color sliders and can see the results as you work. This method will also allow you more color variations than the basic SWATCH PALETTE.

    While (as Trevor notes) doing your coloring on a seperate layer, then adjusting the BLEND MODE and OPACITY, is the smartest way to go about it, you can also color right on a COPY layer of the image, and give the brush itself a BLEND MODE. This will allow you to see the actual results as you go along. Obviously, the downside to painting right on the image is not being able to undo things too easily if you mess up or change your mind.

    Which is my final point. When you paint, do it in multiple, smaller strokes. IOW, release the left mouse button often. Every time you release, the HISTORY palette saves it as a single step. This makes it much easier to go back and undo just small portions of the coloring. If you tried to paint a large area in one single, long brush movement, then messed up right at the end, you'd have to start the entire area over. BTW, you can set the amount of HISTORY states (GENERAL PREFS). I'm not sure what the default is, but I use 20 to allow more flexibility in undoing work.

    Oh, and it's good to get into the habit of "snapshotting" before starting any large editing, and saving often between snapshots...
    "Riding along on a carousel...tryin' to catch up to you..."

    -Steve
    Studio & Lighting - Photography As Art Forum Moderator

    Running the Photo Asylum, Asylum Steve's blogged brain pipes...
    www.stevenpaulhlavac.com
    www.photoasylum.com

  6. #6
    Ghost
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    Talking

    Those were awesome tips Steve.

    I mentioned somewhere recently that there were "smarter" ways of doing things. All I really meant by that are working with selections and masks instead of just using layers for everything. Steve pointed out some ways of creating selections so I won't really cover any of that. Selections and masks are the single topics of books anyway and figuring out how to make them is part of the fun for me working in PS.

    If the work I did here was to be permanent or for a more "serious" effort I'd have confined all my edits by using selections and masks (alpha channels). You can do it with layers and layer masks as well. There are pro's and con's to both that most of us would never care about and I won't claim to know.

    The benefit of using selections from the very get go are numerous. For the most part, it allows you more options in the future when you want to change something. Think about it; if you always makes edits using selections and you keep the selections around forever then you have a lot of opportunity to correct and refine. Also, selections tend to leverage from one another due to the selective math features (add, subtract, intersect). So once you start getting most of your selections going the newer ones start getting easier and easier to make.

    When you turn a selection into a mask all you're really doing is making it easier to see the selection. When you feather the edge of a selection you can't see it the same as a grayscale image of your selection (also called a mask). Selections can be saved as masks and masks can be loaded as selections....they're one for one as far as I'm concerned.

    Not long ago I finally started studying the fundamental features of photoshop (and most image apps I suppose) including alpha channels. It ended up really helping me out and improving my confidence that I can come up with good solutions to a problem.

    For those of you like Steve and myself that like to play with Photoshop I highly recommend you take Steve's pointers and play around with them to see what they do. Hopefully it's "fun" for you

    Sorry if I sound kind of "gitty" or am talking too much. This stuff is just fun for me so it's my excitement coming through!

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