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selective color desaturation tutorial

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I’ve put together an easy tutorial on how to give an image a pop of color in Photoshop.  The burst of color is achieved by selectively desaturating a full color image. This is not to be confused with colorization of a black and white image. Click here for that tutorial.

Don’t have Photoshop? You can download a 30 day trial of Photoshop from Adobe. All keyboard shortcuts provided are for CS5 on a PC, they may vary slightly for other CS versions or Mac platform. 

  1. Open your image in Photoshop and determine what part you want to stand out. selective_desaturation_screenshot_1For this tutorial I will choose the red rose.
  2. Save your image as (SHIFT + CTRLS) another name than the original. You don’t want to save over your original image!
  3. Zoom in (CTRL + +) on the detail as much as possible.  selective_desaturation_screenshot_3
  4. Select the Magnetic Lasso tool (L) from the tools pallet.magnetic-lasso
  5. In the options bar, select Anti-alias and then set any of these options:    mag-lasso-options-bar                Width: To specify a detection width, enter a pixel value for Width. The Magnetic Lasso tool detects edges only within the specified distance from the pointer.

    To change the lasso pointer so that it indicates the lasso width, press the Caps Lock key. You can change the pointer while the tool is selected but not in use. Press the right bracket (]) to increase the Magnetic Lasso edge width by 1 pixel; press the left bracket ([) to decrease the width by 1 pixel.

    Contrast: To specify the lasso’s sensitivity to edges in the image, enter a value between 1% and 100% for Contrast. A higher value detects only edges that contrast sharply with their surroundings; a lower value detects lower-contrast edges.

    Frequency:To specify the rate at which the lasso sets fastening points, enter a value between 0 and 100 for Frequency. A higher value anchors the selection border in place more quickly.

    Useful TIP: On an image with well-defined edges, try a higher width and higher edge contrast, to trace the border roughly. On an image with softer edges, use a lower width and lower edge contrast, to trace the border more precisely.
  6. Start at the edge of the object you want to select, and click your mouse to set the first fastening point. Now very slowly move the mouse pointer along the edge of the object. The selection border snaps to the edge of the object and add points to the selection path as you move the mouse.selective_desaturation_screenshot_6
  7. To scroll while using the magnetic lasso, hold down the space key, and then click and drag on the image to scroll.
  8. If the border doesn’t snap to the desired edge, click once to add a fastening point manually. Continue to trace the edge, and add fastening points as needed.
  9. If the tool adds a point where you don’t want one, just delete (DEL) it.
  10. Close your selection border by connecting the first and last fastening points.
  11. You will see a line of “marching ants” outlining the object in your image. selective_desaturation_screenshot_11aNow right click and select Layer via Copy. A new layer will appear in the layers pallet and contain only your selected object.selective_desaturation_screenshot_11b
  12. Go to the layer with your original image and add an adjustment layer by clicking New Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel.new adjustment layerSelect Channel Mixer from the menu. Make sure the Monochrome box is checked.selective_desaturation_screenshot_12c
  13. Clip the adjustment to the photo layer. Clip-to-layer
  14. If you want to tweak the hue and saturation of the object, now is the time to do it. Add an add an adjustment layer and select Hue/Saturation from the menu. You can select the saturation settings or individual color channels and adjust the sliders to your liking.selective_desaturation_screenshot_14
  15. Save (CTRL + S) your image.Color_pop_rose_final