The Big Apple/Adventures in Selective Coloring


So here’s a photo I took in NYC a few months back. I really like this one because I think it captures Times Square quite nicely. It’s not the cliched shot of that one tall building with the coke advertisement on it (what is that even called)  that you see everywhere, though I have plenty of those, too. It’s a street shot. This is what it looks like as a pedestrian. Plus I love all the perty colors in it. (I know, I should be an art critic).

I thought this photo would be fun to add some selective coloring to, so…I feel a tutorial coming on!

First, you want to go to Pixlr Express. Open your photo and then head to the adjustments section of the menu on the bottom left. Then click “Color Splash.” This is my new obsession, and may become yours, so be careful.

This will turn your photo black and white. Select an area of the photo you want colored. You can slide the tolerance higher to encompass all parts of the photo with that color/color family, or lower, until only that object is in color.


This is low tolerance after clicking on the red bus.


And high tolerance, which picked up red, orange, AND yellow. (Electric.)

And for fun, this is medium tolerance when I clicked on the bush:


So if you have one object that you want to color, or are happy with the high tolerance version of your photo, you can stop here. But if you’re like me and want three things colored that not only are in completely different parts of the photo, but are also three completely different colors, you’re going to need Pixlr Editor. 

Once you get to Editor, open your original photo. Sit and admire your talents for a little bit, and then get down to bidness.

Go to the menu on the top of the screen, and click the drop down menu “Layer”. Click Duplicate Layer. Now you have your photo on top of itself. Still selecting the top layer, go to Adjustments -> Hue and Saturation. Desaturate it until it’s black and white.

Now you have a black and white photo on top, and a colored one behind. Here comes the tedious (but very rewarding) part. Go to the menu on the left, and click the eraser tool. You can adjust its size on the top bar. Slowly and carefully erase the sections of your photo you want colored, revealing a section of your colored layer beneath. Do this until your photo looks like you want it to.

This is my first attempt at the selective coloring, but I kiiiiind of like some of the high tolerance photos better now.


Alright, well that’s the tutorial! Feel free to link to some of  your finished work in the comments.


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