How To Create Greyscale Images But Keep Some Colour

Ok so I’m sure you have all seen them – pictures of people that are completely black and white apart from a few select bits of colour. There are some camera’s out there that have these kind of effects enabled within them but unfortunately I dont have any such camera. So I use GIMP to create the same effect, here’s how….

By the way, I’m sorry about the picture! I was out with friends at the time, was quite drunk and decided to turn my jacket inside out. This is the only picture I could find with a really vivid colour. In hindsight maybe I should have got a picture of a flower from Google – this will do though. :)

Ok, so first of all you download the GIMP from here and install it on your machine (Ubuntu users can get it from the software centre). GIMP stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program” – it’s basically a free version of Photoshop.

Once installed start it up and open your image of choice in it. Then go to Layer > Duplicate Layer. You will then see two ‘versions’ of your image in the layers panel. Make sure the top one is highlighted and select Colours > Colourfy… You will then see a popup with a greyscale version of your image. Click ok and your image will now turn greyscale.

Now, with the top ‘version’ still selected, click Layer > Transparency > Add Alpha Channel this adds a transparency layer to your top ‘version’ of your image so what ever parts you erase, they become transparent. All you need to do now is delete the bits that you don’t want to reveal the colour underneath. To do this select the eraser tool (looks like a pink block) from the toolbar panel and start rubbing out the greyscale sections of your image to reveal the colour underneath.

You can change the size and shape of the eraser using the sliders towards the bottom of the toolbar pane. Do the large bits first then zoom in using the the View > Zoom menu (or ctrl+mouse wheel) to tidy things up.

Finally select File >Export to save your newly edited greyscale image with a splash of colour. Here is a quick video demonstrating the instructions above:

[youtube id="wUxY7K2-43o" width="600" height="350"]
How To Create Greyscale Images But Keep Some Colour
User Rating: 0 (0 votes)
  • drbowlin

    Outstanding article. I’ve wondered for a while on how this was done. Following your example, it was very fast and easy to create my own. I’ll be using this quite a lot. Thank you!