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Retouching a Portrait Using Selective Color

Retouching a Portrait Using Selective Color

Recently I received a number of emails asking how to change the color of a background without effecting the subject. Now although there is no easy answer due to the fact every image has its own requirements, I figured I would just show a simple example of a technique most commonly called “selective color” using a layer mask and a black & white layer adjustment in Adobe Photoshop CS3.

The image we are going to use can be found at Dreamstime.com.

Original image from Dreamstime

Original image from Dreamstime



Step 1

Open your image and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White and enter the values I have shown in the image below.

Black & White Layer Adjustment

Black & White Layer Adjustment



Step 2

Select the Brush Tool (B) and choose a round brush and set the Hardness to 33%.

Medium Brush Hardness

Set Hardness to 33%



Step 3


Select Quick Mask Mode by pressing (Q) and using black (#000000) as your foreground color begin to paint over the iris. If you accidentally paint over the whites of the eye, simply paint them back with white (#ffffff) to remove the mask.

Quick Mask Mode

Quick Mask Mode



Step 4

Exit Quick Mask Mode by pressing the (Q) key again and invert the selection by going to Select > Inverse. Next go to Select > Modify >Feather and enter a radius of 2 pixels.

Feather Radius 2 Pixels

Feather Radius 2 Pixels



Step 5

With Black (#000000) still set as your foreground color, select the Black & White Adjustment Layer Mask and press ALT + Backspace to fill your selection with Black (#000000). Press CTRL + D to get rid of the selection. You should have something that looks like the image below.

Fill Selection Black

Fill Selection with Black



Step 6

Next we will boost the saturation to bring out our models eyes by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and set Saturation to +36.

Boost Saturation

Boost Saturation



That’s it! The final image should look like the one below. The trickiest part of changing the color of any background is correctly selecting the subject you want to preserve and applying the desired color treatment to the background. For another excellent example of how to select a subject and replace the background check out the video here.

Final

Final




Anything to Share?

I would love to see your examples below. Do you have any favorite tools, tips, tutorials or techniques you would like to share? Leave your comments below. There can never be too much of a good thing.

2 Responses to “Retouching a Portrait Using Selective Color”

  1. Tim Donovan says:

    I was looking for some retouching technique and i stumbled upon your page.Thanks for this tutorial it will come very in handy but i don’t know if I can implement it easily with photoshop cs5. The final photo looks awesome

  2. Jeff Johnson says:

    This is just great. I love editing photos , change them and give different beautiful effects. I will make smth like that just now. Thnx and have a nice day :) )


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