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How to Create Black & White Photos with Pops of Color

By Rach DePaoli | Advanced Photo EditingInspirationPhoto Editor Tutorials

In the present day, black and white photography has become one of those classic aesthetics that’s always on trend. But before color film was introduced to the masses in 1960, black and white photography was all that existed! In fact, when the ability to take colored photographs was introduced, people flocked to it like the newest release of the latest iPhone. Nowadays, there are way more options and you don’t even have to have a retro camera to create black and white photography (there are Photo Effects for that) or limit your creativity to one style. 

adding color to black and white photos in BeFunky

While black and white photography communicates its message by using highlights and shadows, color photography gives you an array of colors to use in order to catch someone’s eye and tell a story. When you really want to draw people’s attention, using a mix of black and white and color allows you to guide your audience to the specific piece you want to showcase! The cool thing is, it’s easy to create pops of color in your black and white photos with BeFunky’s Photo Effects and a little Paint Mode magic. We’ll show you how! 

When to Use Color Pops in Black & White Photos

When you add a pop of color to black and white photography, you’re telling a powerful story with your images. Whether you’re a business looking to get creative with your advertisements or simply want to have a little fun in your next photo editing session, this color pop technique is so simple to use. Here are a few of our favorite scenarios where it really comes in handy: 

Tell a Story with Your Subject

Adding a pop of color to your black and white photography helps to quickly draw the eye to a specific subject or you are trying to focus on.

pops of color in black and white photos

If you are wanting your audience to notice one particular item within your image, this can be a great tool to use. 

Create Stillness on Busy Backgrounds

This is also a great technique to use when you want to separate your subject from a busy background. 

how to add color to black and white photography

Black and white photography has a way of creating stillness and silence. Mixing that energy with a pop of color is a great contrast that brings intrigue. 

Play with Depth of Field

This technique is also good for dialing in on depth of field. Depth of field always creates interest in a photograph.

how to add depth of field in black and white photos with color

If you are looking to enhance your depth of field, this can be a great and easy tool to use in order to accomplish that. 

How to Create Black & White Photos with Pops of Color

To begin, select a photo that has a colorful subject that you want to use and upload it into BeFunky’s Photo Editor. The subject could be balloons, someone’s outfit, an autumn leaf or whatever else you want to highlight. We’re going to focus on the colorful crosswalk in our image. 

how to open a photo in BeFunky Photo Editor
Pro Tip:

If you don’t have any personal photos to practice this technique, there are hundreds of free stock photos to choose from when you click on the Image Manager tab (the top icon) in the menu on the left.

Once your photo is loaded onto the canvas, click on the Effects tab (the star icon) in the left-hand side menu, then select the Black & White category. 

black and white photo effect by BeFunky

Clicking through any Black & White effect will show you a preview of how it will look on your image. Try out as many as you want! When you find one you love, click on the Settings menu (the mixing board icon) on the effect thumbnail. 

black and white photo filters by BeFunky

In the Settings menu, you’re able to adjust additional elements of the effect like Highlights, Shadows, and Amount. Feel free to play around with these settings until your Black & White effect looks perfect. Then, click on the Paint tab (located next to Adjust). 

how to use photo effects in paint mode

In Paint Mode, you can paint over a section of your black and white photo that you want to remain in color. You will notice that the black and white dissolves away as you move your selected cursor over your image (like magic!). To get the look just right, be sure to adjust the brush settings like Brush Size, Brush Hardness, and Brush Strength. We’ll cover these options next. 

what is brush hardness

Brush Hardness refers to the straightness (or sharpness) of the edge of the brush. You will see that the higher your percentage of hardness the sharper the outside edge is, as shown in the above image. The lower your percentage, the softer or more diffused the outer edge is, as shown in the image below. Finding the right balance of Brush Hardness will make it easier to paint and make everything look natural. 

brush hardness in paint mode

Brush Strength refers to the strength of the brush, or in this case, how powerful and vibrant the color will appear over the painted selections. The lower your percentage of Brush Strength, the more desaturated the painted portions will look. Keeping the percentage at full strength will make the color pops as vibrant as possible. 

how to add color to black and white photos

When you’ve got the perfect brush settings, paint over the subject in your image. In the process, don’t be afraid of messing up! You can always click the Undo/Redo buttons (the arrows in the bottom menu) or simply use the Erase button in the Paint Mode menu and re-paint over the part you colored.

how to add pops of color to black and white photos
Pro Tip:

Don’t be afraid to zoom in on your photo in order to get very detailed! The more detailed you are, the more realistic the photo looks!

Once you feel you have worked your magic, click the blue checkmark to apply everything! 

how to save photos in BeFunky

Now all that’s left to do is save your work. Click the Save button at the top of the page and select your chosen destination and file format. If you’re not quite finished and want to save your work in editable format, be sure to choose the Save as Project option.

Before and After

This is a great technique to use when you are wanting to add a little whimsy to your photos, draw attention to a specific subject, or single out one particular thing from a group or pattern.

how to add color to black and white photos
how to add black and white effects with color

Before

After

Try experimenting with adding color pops to your black and white photos by clicking the link below. We’re excited to see what kinds of messages you can communicate using this technique, so be sure to tag us on Instagram or Facebook and show us!

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