Introduction: GIMP Color Effects on a B&W Photo

Picture of GIMP Color Effects on a B&W Photo
Have you ever seen a black and white picture with only one thing that was colored?

I have and now I'm going to show you how to do it yourself.

First open up GIMP. If you don't have GIMP, then get it from here.

Sorry the video is choppy and a little blurry.

Step 1: Open Up the Image in GIMP.

Picture of Open Up the Image in GIMP.

Now open up the image that you are going to use. My picture wasn't the best because I couldn't figure out where the rainbow was later on. So make sure you use an easy photo for the first time.

Step 2: Duplicate the Image.

Picture of Duplicate the Image.

Now in the Layers menu click the button that duplicates the image.

If your Layers menu isn't open:

1. Click File
2.Go to Dialogs
3. Click Layers

Or do Ctrl+L

Step 3: B&W

Picture of B&W

Now we need to make this image Black and White.

To do this:
1. Go to Colors
2. Click Colorify
3. Click the white box.
4. Click ok.

Step 4: Making the Color Detail.

Picture of Making the Color Detail.

Now you need to zoom in on the area where you will be making an item colored.

I decided on this rainbow picture, but I didn't know the rainbow would cause a problem.

Step 5: Use the Eraser Tool.

Picture of Use the Eraser Tool.

Now this is where the item that you picked to change into color will appear.

1. Choose the Eraser tool.
2. Color the area you want.

Once again, this is where the rainbow came to be a problem for me.

Step 6: Saving

Picture of Saving

Now all you need to do is save the image!!!

The File menu to save the picture is the picture window. Not the GIMP window.

Step 7: You're Done!!!

Picture of You're Done!!!

Now all you need to do is appreciate your picture.

Below is another picture I did that demonstrates this better.

Pictures: Courtesy of Google


ZoeE1 made it! (author)2015-01-26

This is what I did. Quite proud of it actually haha

ZoeE1 (author)2015-01-26

Okay, when you're erasing the picture, make sure you add an Alpha channel, which makes the image transparent. To do this, go to Layers > Transparency > Add alpha channel. Then you can begin erasing. If there is more than one colour in the image, or if it's hard to tell where you need to erase, make sure the black and white layer is selected (seriously this is essential), then click the eye so the layer beneath is visible. Then begin erasing the thing you want coloured. Does that make sense? idk if it does lmao. Hope I helped :)

mmartin16 (author)2011-06-27

I'm having the same problem ! ?

aceves (author)2009-07-06

thnx 4 da tip itmboy :)

bob05111983 (author)2009-06-21

I followed the steps and the missing step and still am not able to get it to work, not really sure where to put the missing step though so it might be a simple fix?

a_ruiz1990 (author)2009-04-27

i guess i missed something here..but when i zoom in what do i do? just look at it? then u said to click on the eraser i did that also and it just erased the picture...everytime i clicked...well if u can get back to me thanks

m0005 (author)2008-10-11

I've done everything step by step but when i go to erase it erases the image itself.What am i doing wrong?

jmeile (author)m00052008-10-15

Ok, I found it. The missing step is: Menu Layer / Transparency / Add Alpha Channel

twiggy9600 (author)jmeile2009-02-12

I would like to thank you for this missing really helped. I was having the problem with it erasing the image itself.

jmeile (author)twiggy96002009-02-13

You are welcome. I'm glad to see that it helped you.

fidz91 (author)2008-03-09

awesome, as soon as i saw it, i did it !

hominid (author)fidz912008-12-18

Yes I agree,very nice indeed.

summit (author)fidz912008-03-10

Wow great result! I love the one sunflower sticking out. Good job!

baconfish (author)2008-03-06

If I can make a suggestion, look into masks. It would work much the same way as the above instructions, but instead of erasing parts of the black and white layer you would make a mask of it (it's sort of like another black and white layer that maps to the alpha channel of the layer it's applied to). Now you just paint the mask black where you want stuff to show through and white where you don't. I guess you could use the anti-erase tool, but masks may be easier to work with visually.

summit (author)baconfish2008-03-06

Thanks for the info. I'll look into that.

pitty (author)summit2008-03-06

I agree using layer masks is the way to go with this sort of work, once you get the hang of them you may never use the eraser again.

Andrew546 has a great Instructable using layer masks
"Creating a 3D effect with image editing software (GIMP or Photoshop)"

summit (author)pitty2008-03-13

cool thanks

lgsmith (author)2008-03-13

It's called selective desaturation, and though it may look cool now, it gets old. So now you know how to do it, but don't overdo it or use it on the wrong photo.

bikerguy7 (author)2008-03-06

hey great instructable. as far as I could tell there is no GIMP for Mac OS X. Does anyone know of a similar program? Thanks.

titanium_geek (author)bikerguy72008-03-06

Yeah, there is a GIMP for OS X- it's or try

But you will also need to install X-11 which comes on the OS X install disc as an extra option.

for general information, seashore is Cocoa based- but the GIMP has more features.

rholland45 (author)2008-03-06

this same tut is avaliable for photoshop CS3 go to itunes an type in the russell brown show an its tip #72

abjurian (author)rholland452008-03-07

I was wondering if there is a tutorial for this using the older photoshop cs?

rholland45 (author)abjurian2008-03-07

ehhh i dont know i think its the same procedure tho the tools you use for the CS3 one are the same for older CS2 i think chek it out tho tip #72 russell brown show off itunes

reedz (author)2008-03-06

Great job, I've always wondered how to do this

summit (author)reedz2008-03-06

I'm glad could help! =D

ltmboy (author)2008-03-05

This method usually works well when accenting someone's eyes in a portrait or to draw attention to a certain object in a scene. You just have to be careful not to overdo it.

summit (author)ltmboy2008-03-05

Especially of they have blue or green eyes.

stalkingcoco (author)2008-03-04

Just interested to know does colorify white, work better than desaturate.

summit (author)stalkingcoco2008-03-05

It works the same...I just learned both ways.

mjordan724 (author)2008-03-02

thanks for the guide but is there any way to "decolor" a portion of the picture that you accidently colored in? as in go back to black and white but only a small portion. hope this makes sense. thanks again.

ltmboy (author)mjordan7242008-03-02

There is. If you look below the tools dialog, you'll see an Anti-erase option. Check the box beside it and the eraser will work in reverse. Hope that helps.

summit (author)ltmboy2008-03-02

Yes, I believe Itmboy's reply is correct.

mjordan724 (author)summit2008-03-02

Yes, I believe Itmboy's reply is correct as well. lol. Thanks Itmboy and thanks again summit.

summit (author)mjordan7242008-03-05

Yes, I do believe that was a very formal reply lol. Well I don't know....

Xellers (author)2008-03-05

This works really well with flowers. I don't mean to be offensive, but some of these pictures don't look too great with B&W; background. Nice instructable though. +1 Rating

summit (author)Xellers2008-03-05

I know they don't look great with the background. And trust me that wan't taken offensively. Those were the only pictures I had to work with at the time.

clank1108 (author)2008-02-23

This is cool! I finally know how to do this!!!

Transquesta (author)2008-02-23

Fantastic! Now, if I could just figure out how to fade to transparent in Gimp. :-)

summit (author)Transquesta2008-02-23

What do you mean transparent? You could lower the layer's opacity.

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-02-20

Cool! I love gimp. What can't it do!

GorillazMiko (author)2008-02-20

Always seen these images, always wanted to do this, now I know how to. Thanks a lot! :-)

summit (author)GorillazMiko2008-02-20

I'm happy to help! :D

About This Instructable




Bio: I come in peace. I'm interested in all things electronic. I like to collect coins and build stuff. I don't live in California ... More »
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