A written copy of the presentation given at the weekly meeting on 18th October 2016 by James Charlick.

This tutorial will show you a very quick and simple method to “colour pop” your images by selectively desaturating colours and areas in your image. This style is not to everyone’s taste, but there are useful techniques in here that can be applied regardless of your thoughts on the final outcome.

The screenshots are from Adobe Camera Raw – part of Photoshop CC and CS – and these techniques and tools are also relevant to Adobe Lightroom where the same or similar tools and sliders are available.

Should you wish to create this effect in Photoshop Elements you cannot use it’s version of Camera Raw as too many of the features have been stripped out. However you can create the same effect with Hue/Saturation adjustment layers and masks.

Part 1 of this tutorial will simply be showing the desaturation technique very simply by playing with sliders. Part 2 will show how to select specific areas with the Adjustment Brush.

The images above show my starting image – a Clevedon Pier sunset with a couple of basic adjustments to the contrast and saturation to make the sky come alive. You can see this adjustments in the editor screenshot, but the starting settings will vary depending on your chosen image – for I hope obvious reasons.

The first thing to do is to find your HSL (or Hue / Saturation / Luminance) sliders, which will be under their own tab on the right.

Now in this case I was to selectively colour only the warm tones of the sunset, so on the Saturation tab I’ll swing all sliders to the far left save for the Red, Orange, and Yellow tones.

Next if I want more control of the brightness of those desaturated colours I can use the Luminance sliders to darken those colours. In this case the main colour change was made when darkening the blue tones in the sky, but again your mileage may vary depending on your image. I’ve decided to go for a rather dark look so I’ve moved all the desaturated colours down on the luminance sliders too.

At this point it’s entirely up to you how to finish your image.

In this case, to create more drama I wanted to darken the image further. To do this I’ve used the Tone Curve tab to darken the already dark areas of the image, and then under the Effects tab I’ve added a dark vignette around the edge.

I hope you’ll agree that the final image is quite punchy and dramatic, whilst creating a different effect to your average sunset.

Now we will be focusing on more Focused selective colouring using the adjustment brush.

My aim with this image is to colour only the eyes, which contain many of the same colours as the baby’s shirt, and so requires a little more thought.

In Camera Raw (Photoshop CC and CS1-6) you can find the adjustment brush along the top right as per this screenshot, in Lightroom it is near the top of your main tools panel I believe, just under the Histogram.

Using the angled [ or ] brackets to enlarge or shrink your brush, use a large brush and draw over the whole image. In my example I have already set the Exposure to +2.00 so that I can see exactly what I’ve drawn, but this isn’t strictly necessary.

At any time you can select the adjustment brush and then hover the pin pricks on the image to get a preview of the areas they are effecting – in Camera Raw by whitening the area or in Lightroom by reddening it. Clicking on these pins will allow you to re-edit these areas at a later date if you wish, but you can only see them with the adjustment brush tool selected.

So I have drawn over the whole image, and there is a pin where I started drawing. I can now adjust the sliders to effect the whole image, which sounds counter intuitive right? You could do that at the start after all. Except I want to effect everything except the eyes. So right now I’m going to reset the exposure to 0, and set the saturation to -100 before continuing.

Now at the top of the adjustment brush tool panel I can click the Erase button (next to Add and New) and paint again onto my area to remove parts that I don’t want to effect. So I’m going to make my brush much smaller and then paint into the eyes, which will remove them from this area and the original colours will come through.

But to edit the eyes without the rest of the image I’m actually going to need to create a new brushed area, and to do that I’ll click the New Adjustment Brush button (next to the Erase and Add buttons at the top). Now I can again paint onto the image to select the areas I want to control, just the irises. Notice how a new pin appears over the first part I’ve painted, but I can paint both eyes and control both from the same point by using the Add brush, which should select automatically. I’ve bumped the exposure again to show you the areas I’m drawing.

To really bring out the colour and texture in the eyes I’ve added Clarity, Contrast, and Saturation, but they were still rather dark so I brought the Brightness up as well.

I then can leave the Adjustment Brush alone and come back to overall changes to the image by, in this case, selecting the Hand Tool or Zoom Tool. The tools panel has reset to the overall image and I can make general changes again.

As per my previous general tweaks, I’m going to darken the blacks to give the colours something dark to pop from, and I’m also brightening slightly.

Then I’m adding another Vignette – something I think that helps most images but especially in black and white.

The final effect is striking, and as I said at the start not everyone’s cup of tea, but the techniques can be useful even when used moderately – for example desaturating to -25 instead of -100 to emphasize a colour without completely removing all others.

If you have any questions please pop them in a comment below or email me via the contact form.