Photoshop Tutorial - How to use Selective Desaturation
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Free Photoshop Tutorial - How to Use Selective Desaturation to Improve your Photos


Selective Desaturation Step 3

Tutorial Overview

This Photoshop tutorial presents you with an easy way to make your photo's pop out using selective de saturation. This process is much easier than masking out the areas that you want to show up in black and white. We simply apply one adjustment layer to the entire image that takes care of the whole thing.


When to use Selective Desaturation

The first criteria to using selective desaturation is to start off with the right photo. The main concern is to choose a photo that has a prominent color in the main subject that isn't repeated in the background. This allows us to desaturate the background elements in Adobe Photoshop without affecting the main subject in the foreground. For this example I chose a photo of the Rose of Sharon. A beautiful pink orchid. You can tell that I set out to use this technique by the fact that there is a rather unflattering yellow cloth in the background but as you will see this will be no problem later on in the tutorial.

How to use Selective Desaturation in Adobe Photoshop

Selective Desaturation Step 1First select an image with a prominent color on the main subject like the image on the right, you may find this technique works will with other situations as well so feel free to experiment. You may also find that initially boosting the saturation of the photo works well for this technique. Next add a Hue / Saturation adjustment layer. Use the drop down list to select each color from your background that you want to eliminate and move the saturation slider down to zero on those colors. In this case we desaturate the yellows, greens and cyans, we will keep the red, magenta and blue saturated as those are the primary colors in our image. You may even want to go ahead and boost the saturation again on the main colors to add to the effect. A quick comparison of the before and after photos shows a major difference.


Selective Desaturation Step 2Final Thoughts

As you can see this short photoshop tutorial can have a profound effect on your photos and can really make them pop out. Feel free to experiment with your own images. When you start to apply it you will find many ways to enhance an otherwise dull photograph. You can see some other great example uses of this Photoshop technique in these sample photos provided below. All you need is one main color to make those images come alive! I hope you've enjoyed this free tutorial. Keep stopping by for more!

Desaturation SampleDesaturation Sample 2

Article by Emmett Lollis Jr. February 27th 2005

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