How To Add Color To Monochrome Pictures in Photoshop

By: Kaitlyn Miller  

Editing photographs using Adobe’s Photoshop can be an exhilarating thing. Even experienced Photoshop users are continually amazed at the things they can do to improve their designs.

One of Photoshop’s best features is the ability it gives you to colorize your images, or even just portions of images if you want to put the focus in one spot. You can take bland, dull photos and turn them into vibrant, colorful designs. You can ever colorize black and white images to bring them to life. This tutorial will show you how to do this, step by step.

  • 1. Open the image you want to colorize (obviously).
  • 2. Go to Image >> Mode and make sure that RGB is selected.
  • 3. Press Q. This should put you into QuickMask mode. On the main toolbar, there is a “QuickMask” options button. Make sure it is set to Selected Areas.
  • 4. Select the Paintbrush and fill in the first area that you want to colorize. This portion will appear in red.
  • 5. Press Q again, which you put you back into Normal mode. The area that you filled in with the Paintbrush will now be selectable.
  • 6. At this point, you will want to save the selected area in a separate file for later use (or in case you make a mistake). Do this by going to Select >> Save Selection.
  • 7. Click on the “Create New Adjustment Layer” icon in the Layers palette. This will bring up a menu.
  • 8. Select “Color Balance” from the menu. Three color sliders will appear.
  • 9. Adjust the color sliders until you get the color you want for the selected area.
  • 10. Now repeat steps 3 through 9 for each of the other areas that you want to colorize.

That is all there is to it. It will take some trial and error to get the photo to look exactly the way you want it to. Using the Paintbrush to select the areas you want to color will require some practice. It is not that easy to be precise with it.

You will also probably have to go back over each area using the Color Balance sliders. Even when you think you have the colors right where you want them, they have a way of looking a lot different when the whole photo is colorized. Just go over them until you get the balance you are looking for and you are happy with the final product.

There are certain things you will want to watch for as you colorize your designs. For one, remember to save the original picture before you begin. You will also want to make sure you save each selection as you make it with the Paintbrush (see step 6). This way, if you make a mistake, you do not have to re-select the area, which can be a difficult thing to do. It is also a good idea to save your project after you colorize each section, in case you mess up during the next area.

Kaitlyn Miller is a copywriter for, a printing company that offers postcard printing and color printing.

Archived Comments

1. Was useful
View Tutorial          By: Vasan at 2008-06-22 05:04:20

Most Viewed Articles (in Photoshop )

Latest Articles (in Photoshop)

Comment on this tutorial