How to Add Color to a Black and White Image in Photoshop!

Sometimes a black and white photo looks nice, if you want your photo to exhibit an old-fashioned or even spooky appearance. While the black and white feature in Photoshop often looks stylish, you can actually perform the opposite task and spice up your photos by adding color! The first step in this process is to choose a black and white picture. Here’s the picture I chose to demonstrate:


This cat is certainly cute even in black and white, but I’d like to give this kitty some vibrant eyes.

After picking your favorite black and white photo, save it to a flash drive or to your computer, and in Photoshop, navigate to File > Open and select your photo from where you saved it.

To begin transforming your picture, I recommend converting your image to CMYK. To convert your image, go to Image > Mode > and check “CMYK Color”:


Next, we must create a selection of a color that doesn’t exist. For areas of similar hues, the Quick Selection Tool can be used. Otherwise, the Lasso Tool may work better in selecting more detailed areas.

I zoomed in a little by going to View > Zoom in. Then, I used the Quick Selection tool on the left side toolbar to select the eyes of the cat.

Once you’ve made your selection, navigate under the Select menu, and choose the Refine Edge feature. This will refine your selection to go in-between small spaces that are difficult to get to. Mark off the check box labeled ‘Smart Radius’ and change your radius as necessary. (I changed mine to 5.0 pixels).


Okay, It’s time to add color!

In your Layers Panel on the right hand side of Photoshop, select the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom, then select Curves. Many different combinations of Curves adjustments can be applied. From here, you can test out all the varieties.  I chose to make the cat’s eyes yellow:


Next, a good idea would be to apply a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to help sharpen your colors. Again, under the Layers Panel, click on the Adjustment Layer icon but this time select Hue/Saturation. Try increasing the Saturation slider.

That’s it! Final product… a cute kitten with creepy yellow eyes:


Don’t forget to save your work!

This is just a simple example of how to make your black and white photos come to life. I hope you can make use of this neat feature!

Good luck!

-Kim Bizal

~ by kmb221 on September 26, 2012.

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