We Get It Done Yesterday!

Easy Photoshop Color Splash Tutorial for Photos and Images

Color Splash Using Photoshop History Brush

Color Splash Black and White Photo - Plant through Brick

Color Splash Photos with Photoshop

Photoshop Color splash is a method for emphasizing areas or objects inside of black and white photographs, with color. Very popular with wedding pictures and vintage photography, color splashing gives images an extra dimension of beauty: Color can be used creatively to change the perception of the image.


Step 1: Duplicate the Layer

Duplicate Layer in PhotoshopPhotoshop has several different ways to duplicate layers. The one in the image is probably the easiest:

Right-click on the layer and click “Duplicate Layer…”. This will make a duplicate layer above the original.

As you become more familiar with Photoshop you will find that keyboard shortcuts make certain actions faster to do than going through the menus and right clicking. With some practice it becomes a reflex such as typing; you know what keys to press without even thinking about it.

Duplicate Layer Keyboard Shortcut: CTRL + J (PC) or Command +J (Mac)

Step 2: Desaturate the New Layer

Desaturate Layer in Photoshop

Desaturation is a different process in comparison to converting an image to grayscale or a black and white yet renders the same visual effect. Desaturation occurs by pushing the CMYK values of the image towards their respective grey tone.

Photoshop automates this function for us using the Desaturate Adjustment

The two easiest ways to Desaturate a layer are as follows:

*Make sure you have the new layer selected in the Layers palette.

Click: Image>Adjustments>Desaturate.

Desaturate Layer Keyboard Shortcut:

Press Shift + CTRL + U (PC)
OR Shift + Command + U (Mac)


At this point you should see a black and white photo like this:

Desaturated Flower Girl in Photoshop

Step 3: Adding Color with the History Brush

Photoshop History Brush Tool

The History Brush Tool can be used to restore color and other attributes to an image from an earlier state in its history.

Once we desaturate the image, the original color becomes part of that image’s history. By using the History Brush Tool we can then selectively restore parts of the desaturated image to its original color version. In short, we are erasing the desaturation back to color except only where we want the color to appear.

Select the History Brush Tool by clicking on it in the tools palette.

*Make sure your new desaturated layer is selected in the layers palette.

History Brush Tool Keyboard Shortcut: Press the letter Y (Mac or PC)

Begin by setting the brush size to 200px and 0% Hardness.
This gives us a large brush size to work with and the 0% hardness creates a faded finish around the edges of the brush so that we do not end up with a hard edge:


Photoshop Brush Hardness Comparison

Now you can begin coloring in the parts that you would like to have color. Adjust your brush size accordingly to get into those tight spaces and remember that you can zoom in to make sure you add nice clean details to your image.

Brush Size Keyboard Shortcut:

  • Increase Size = [ (Mac or PC)
  • Decrease Size = ] (Mac or PC)

Take a look at the Color Splash I did in Photoshop for this tutorial, it took me less than 10 minutes:


Color Splash Using Photoshop History Brush

Experimenting with the history brush and different brush shapes for that matter can result in some unique and/or abstract photo manipulations.


Show us your skills! Tell us about your color splash project below..


Print and Design Expert


  • Mariah
    July 5, 2019

    wow amazing work done.You made it so simple for me to understand, the screen shots helped me a lot,and moreover if we add a filter after editing it looks so real.Thanks for the detailed instructions and step by step graphical demonstration.Have been trying to use this color splash method for quite a while.

  • Alia Maurer
    October 21, 2016

    would love to learn anything i can about early techniques of color splash rather than using Photoshop . this is for a school project i would appreciate it if someone could turn me in the right direction.

  • Alia Maurer
    October 21, 2016

    do you know if there’s a possible way to find a website that talks about early techniques instead of Photoshop?

    • Alex Lindsley
      November 8, 2016

      Good morning Alia,
      We apologize for the delay, but we are in the midst of rearranging some positions. We find this site very helpful. Thanks for checking out our blog and if you have anything else that you think would be of interest to you or others like you, let us know and we might blog about it.

  • stepht5522
    July 7, 2015

    ok, I got everything down, but say I color something in that I don’t want to, is there an easy shortcut for undo that? as in painting something back to black and white?

  • kristin
    July 12, 2013

    Thank you so much! Very easy!!

  • […] Easy Photoshop Color Splash Tutorial for Photos and Images …Learn to Give your Photos and Images a Color Splash treatment with Adobe Photoshop the quick and efficient way. This tutorial will teach you how to use the … […]

  • […] Easy Photoshop Color Splash Tutorial for Photos and Images […]

  • James.H
    April 15, 2011

    It’s always difficult to tell whether an image has been manipulated. However, site Photoshopped Image Killer makes things easy. By submit an image URL you can see if the image has been altered. Altered image will get a red flag while original image gets a white flag.


Leave a Reply