Use a Colorwash Effect in Photoshop

The power to give life to photographs is among the things that modern technology has offered us. Applying different art styles to photographs is an easy job to do using modern graphics software. Graphic artists use graphic software for faster production.

Graphic artists tend to use Photoshop in applying art styles to still photographs. Colorwash is an art technique that transforms some part in a photo to gray-scale or desaturated.  This style gives new feeling, and it enhances the appearance of the photograph. To use Photoshop in applying the colorwash effect, you can use the history brush tool:

  1. Open the photograph that you want to edit by clicking (FILE) (OPEN) in the menu. Go to the folder where you have stored the photograph and click it.
  2. In the file menu, choose (IMAGE) (ADJUSTMENT), and then click Levels. Set black to the darkest part and white to the brightest part. This will give the image more light details.
  3. Click (IMAGE) (ADJUSTMENT) (DESATURATE) in the menu bar. This will change the image to black and white, or gray-scale.
  4. In the tool panel at the left side of the screen, choose the history brush tool. Its icon is a brush with an arrow following it.
  5. Paint the parts where you want the color to return using the history brush. This will leave the background black and white.
  6. You can adjust the intensity and size of the brush for better results. It is located in the row under the menu or by right-clicking the document.

You can also give a colorwash effect by using the mask and layer tool.

  1. Open the image that you want to edit by selecting (FILE) (OPEN). Browse your folder where the stored picture is and select it.
  2. Duplicate the image by right-clicking the layer and selecting duplicate image in the menu. You can do this too by pressing CTRL+J. 
  3. Select the background layer, and go to (IMAGE) (ADJUSTMENT) (HUE/SATURATION) or press CTRL+U.
  4. A color window will appear. Set saturation to -100 (default is 0) then click ok. This will give the image the same effect of desaturation.
  5. Select the duplicated layer named as BACKGROUND COPY.
  6. Insert the new layer mask by selecting add layer mask in the layers window or by going to (LAYERS) (LAYER MASK) (REVEAL ALL.).
  7. Select the entire layer mask and fill it with black. This will make the whole layer disappear.
  8. Using the Brush Tool, paint it (the parts where you want the colored part of the picture to appear) white. Using soft-edged brushes will give a more convincing effect.

You may prefer to use a pen tablet or the lasso tool. You can also apply the Colorwash effect with these:

  1. Open the image that you want to edit with Photoshop.
  2. Select the lasso tool in the tool panel located at the left side of the screen. Its icon is a dashed semi-circle.
  3. Trace the edges of the part that you want to turn into black and white.
  4. Convert the selection to black and white by clicking (IMAGE) (ADJUSTMENT) (DESATURATE).

Enjoy applying colorwash effects to your photographs by doing any of the above steps.


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