How to Colorize, Recolor, and Turn a Photo to Black and White in Photoshop Elements 4.0

How do you put color in a B&W image? This is a common question among those who like to dabble in digital photography.

*Note that this is written for Photoshop Elements 4.0. The second part of this entry will tell you how to change to color of the non B&W portion to something other than it’s original color.

1. Open your image.

2. Press CTRL+J to create a New Layer Via Copy (you can also choose Layer>New>Layer Via Copy). We will be working entirely on this new layer, Layer 1 to do this.

3. Press B to get your brush tool, and press D to set the foreground color to black. Choose a soft round brush, and in the Mode pull-down box, change to ‘Color’. Set the Opacity to 100% if it’s anything different. Choose a large size for this brush, since we are going to color over the whole image.

4. Brush over the whole image. You will see that this turns the image black and white.

5. Brush until you have colored the whole picture. Press Z to get your zoom tool, and zoom in on the area that you want to leave colored. In this case we’re doing the lips. Zoom in as close as you need to see the area clearly.

6. Press E to get your erase tool. Choose a soft round eraser, in a size that is adequate for your image. It needs to be small enough to get into the details of the area you want to leave colored. You can change the size as much as you need to. Now erase the area you want to leave colored. You will start to see the color showing through. If you just want to leave the area the original color, you’re all done, all you need to do is save your image (be careful not to overwrite your original if you don’t want to lose it!). If you want to change the color of this area, continue with the steps below.

Changing the color of the original object/area

1. Click on the Background Layer in your Layers Palette. Press M to get your marquee tool. Set the shape to rectangular at the top of the screen. Drag the marquee tool to form a box around the area you want to colorize/recolor. If you need to select more than one area (like 2 eyes), then hold the shift key and select another area. Don’t worry about selecting an area outside what you want to recolor. As long as you’ve already followed the previous steps, and used the erase tool to “uncolor” areas, and are now working on the background area, it won’t matter that you select an area outside of what you’re changing. I’m working on the eyes, and I could just draw one box around both eyes if I wanted to, it won’t matter.

2. With the eyes (or whatever area you are working on) still selected, at the top of the screen, click on Enhance>Adjust Color>Remove Color. *Note: the remove color step isn’t absolutely necessary, but you will not get the same effect, so try it both ways and see which you like first. With the areas still selected, click on Enhance again, and this time go to Adjust Color>Adjust Hue/Saturation. You want both the ‘Colorize’ and the ‘Preview’ boxes checked (See Image 5)

3. Now drag the sliders until you get a color you like. They are pretty self explanatory. When you’re done, click OK. Then press CTRL+D to deselect the areas.

4. Now you’re done, and you can save your image. You will notice that even though you changed the color in a large box, the only thing that’s showing on your final image is the areas that were erased to begin with. This is because the second layer (Layer 1) is acting like a mask to the original. You erased the areas that you wanted to remain colored, so those are showing through from the Background layer. You can see here that I changed the eyes to blue (they were brown).

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