How to Selectively Color in Gimp




For those of you who don't know gimp is a free photoshop type program, you can do loads of stuff cool stuff in it

For those of you who don't have gimp you can download it at:

I wanted to show you how to colour or 'decolour' (aka desaturate) it is a really simple thing to do but can look really cool.

Step 1: Open Gimp

Gimp has a nice interface and is easy to work with. Sometimes it can open in several different windows (this usually happens when you first use it) if it does just find the ribbon called 'windows' and scroll down till you find 'single-window mode'.

Step 2: Pasting Picture and Adding Layers

simply paste the picture of your choice by pressing control-v. Once you have done that click on the 'layers' ribbon at the top and scroll down till you find duplicate layer then click it. This means we now have two layers exactly the same. We did this step so we can desaturise one layer and keep one in colour.

Step 3: Adding Alpha to Selection.

This is really important!

select the lower layer in the layer dialogue box then right click and scroll down till you find 'add alpha to selection'.

This allows us to edit the layer freely.

Step 4: Desaturisation

Select the first layer (called 'pasted layer copy' (normally!)) then go to colours and scroll down till you find desaturise. A dialogue box should pop up asking you which type of desaturisation you want, I chose the first ( 'lightness') but the choice is up to you :).

Step 5: Colouring in the Eyes.

Select the rubber tool. This can be found on the left side once you have done that there should be a box somewhere on your screen which has things saying 'size' and 'aspect ratio' ect... just use the arrows to toggle the size if it's too big for what you want to colour in. Use the rubber to 'rub our'/colour in what you want. Once you've done that you should have an effect like the one in the photo !

Step 6: Saving

In gimp DON'T press save instead go to file scroll down till you find 'export' then if you want you can change the type of image to .png or .jpg if you just want a photo and not a gimp file (which you can continue editing) then click export when you have the picture where you want and in the form you want. A box should pop up asking you what quality it should be, I always use 100,

You have now truly finished editing your picture :)!

hoped you liked this instructable!

last note, I quite like using computer programs and editing with them

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9 Discussions


4 years ago on Introduction

Great Instructable! Was just wondering about this, and ended up making the photo black and white with a separate program, then did the layers trick in gimp. Thanks for sharing!


4 years ago

GIMP-lovers unite :P

Uncle Kudzu

4 years ago on Introduction

That's cool! Thanks for sharing.

If I understand this rightly, you desaturated the top layer, then erased back to the color layer below?

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

You can edit and clean that up. You're never locked in to what you originally publish. ;)