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Image Editing Tutorial – Selective Monochrome

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Of all the photo editing tricks that you can try, one of the most eye-catching it the Selective Monochrome effect, in which all but a selected area of an image is reduced to black and white, leaving only the subject in its original colour. It's a popular effect that has been used in a couple of well-known movies, most notably Schindler's List. Some cameras, such as many Pentax and Samsung compacts, have the option to produce a similar effect in the camera, using software filters to select particular colours, but the results are usually pretty crude. To really do Selective Monochrome properly you need a computer and an image editing package.

For this tutorial I am using Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended as usual, but I've concentrated on techniques that will also work in most versions of Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro, PhotoImpact, GIMP and most other advanced editing programs.


Selective Monochrome works best, and is easiest to carry out, on images in which the colour of one element of the scene already stands out against the background. Like most of the more radical image editing effects it tends to get over-used, and often on subjects for which it is totally unsuited. The sort of image you should look for is something like this:

By popular request I've included a downloadable version of this month's starter image which you are free to use for the purposes of this tutorial; just click on the picture above and then use "right-click-save-as" to download a full-size version to your computer. The file is approximately 3.7MB, so it might take a few minutes to download depending on the speed of your internet connection.

It's relatively straightforward to turn any photo like that into something that looks like this:

Turn to the next page to find out how it's done...


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