Selective Coloring with Lightroom 2 [VIDEO]

Selective Coloring with Lightroom 2 [VIDEO]

In this video tutorial Kelly Anne Martin shares some tips on selective coloring within Lightroom 2.

Selective coloring is an easy way to make a portion of your image stand out. While it is not the best solution for every photo, selectively coloring a portion of a photo can sometimes lead to amazing results.

In this tutorial, I will demonstrate how to use Adobe Lightroom 2 to selectively color a photo.

Selective Coloring with Lightroom 2 from Kelly Anne on Vimeo.

Here’s a quick recap/summary:

1) Choose the photo you would like to selectively color

2) Select the “Adjustment Brush” tool. (shortcut K) from the toolbar

3) Using a Saturation of -100, brush over the entire photo. You can edit the size, feather, and flow of your brush to make this process a little easier.

4) Zoom in, and choose the eraser tool. The adjustment brush works like a mask in Photoshop … you can erase parts of it to get rid of the effect.

5) Erase the portion of the photo you would like to keep colored. You will see the color come back.

6) For detailed work, you can toggle the mask visibility by pressing O on your keyboard.

Selective coloring can be used to make a portion of a photo really pop. Typically, bright colors will be chosen to stand out … reds, blues, greens … but you can selectively color a married couple in a crowd shot at their wedding, a stained glass window in a church, or anything you imagine.

191/365 - An apple for the pretty?
Image by Kelly Anne Martin

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

See more of Kelly Anne Martin’s work at her site Tack Sharp and on Flickr.

Read more from our Post Production category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Wayne H April 9, 2010 06:33 am

    I guess because I do know about 20% of Lightroom 2 that I could be considered an expert. As I am sure you all know there is always at lease four ways to accomplish any task in Lightroom and Photoshop. I have listened and watched this video several time to make sure I was hearing what Kelly was saying.

    I her second example she has used the layer saturation brush set to 100% for paint over the lady bug. Here is where I am having a problem, then she says to create a new adjustment mask. Problem is I have never heard of an adjustment mask in LR2 and the help file finds no reference to it. I am sure Kelly thinks we all know how to create this adjustment mask, because was no mention in the video of how this was done. Next she talks about stacking several "adjustment layer masks" Once again I have never heard of LR 2 having "layers".

    I just confused or maybe she is calling something by a different name for these tools.

  • Pixzii January 21, 2010 11:56 pm

    Nice, very helpful video. Here's a nice examples of selective coloring images.

  • Kirbinster December 19, 2008 10:02 am

    Great explanation of how to do this in LR. Thanks.

  • Tony December 17, 2008 08:47 am

    Excellent article. But I don't have Lightroom but rather use GIMP to do this. Here's a link showing how.

  • Peter Carey December 17, 2008 03:02 am

    Awesome! thanks!

  • Grant Northsby December 16, 2008 11:52 am

    this is great - thanks for the tutorial it has helped me a lot.

  • Megapixelicious December 16, 2008 08:22 am

    You can do the same thing with Aperture 2 with selective saturation layers.

  • Fabio de Luca December 16, 2008 05:13 am


    Nice tutorial. I am not an expert on Lightroom, but I would like to share another way to get this result (sometimes even better, depending on the photo). It is easier but will work only on photos which have very "defined" color, like the one with the ladybug, where you have the (very) green background and the (very) red insect. Just use the HSL/Color/Grayscale group from Lightroom. On HSL choose Saturation and then drop all the colors to -100 and leave 0 on the color (or colors) you want to keep.