Create a spot color or isolated color effect in Photoshop. The image is black and white and only a portion of the image is in color. Learn how to do this and how to get started with masks as you do this.

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Complete transcript of this video:

Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to begin to use masks in Photoshop and I’m assuming that you’ve never used a mask before. And so that we actually create something in this tutorial we’re going to use it for a spot color effect. Before we get started on actually introducing what a mask is let’s have a look at the effect that we’re looking at here. This is my original image and it was shot in color on a very wet night in Wales. And what I’ve done is converted the image to black and white but I’ve left this person in the middle of the image in color. And I’ve done it in such a way that we can edit it. So if I didn’t make the selection correctly to begin with I can adjust it at any time. I can also remove the effect. So you can see here I’ve removed the mask here and the image has been reverted to fully black and white. I can reinstate the mask and this converts the image into black and white but leaving this person in color. This is a black and white adjustment layer here, a very simple adjustment layer. But because I’ve got a mask here I’m able to control where the color is on the image. And with masks you can paint with black and white. Black will reveal the layer underneath or the color underneath and white hides it. So if I get a really big brush right now, let’s go and get a really big brush on this image, and just see what happens when I paint on that mask. Can you see that I’m bringing color back into the image because I’m painting was black. If I paint with white I’ll removes the color from the image. I’m painting on the mask so I have the mask targeted but my paint is being painted onto the image itself. So I’m painting here. You can see that the color is going on the mask and we’re poking a hole in this black and white layer to see the color below. If we change to paint in white we’re removing it so we’re seeing what is on this particular layer. So now that we’ve seen what we’re aiming for let’s go and see how we could achieve that result with another image. Here I have another image. This one was shot in Cambridge. And I’m just going to size it down. And to make a start on this image we’re going to convert it to black and white using an adjustment layer. I’ll choose Layer, New Adjustment Layer, black and White and click Ok. And now I can make my black and white adjustment. But because my phone boxes are going to be colored red later on I’m not worried about the color in the phone boxes but I am worried about how the black and white is converted in the image around the edges. So I’m just going to focus on these edges. I do want it to look a little bit dark. So I’m probably going to go to the black end of the scale on most of these. And there’s my black and white image. And now we’re ready to add the color back into it. There any number of ways that we can bring the color back into the image. I’m going to show you a couple of them. Because we created a new adjustment layer you can see that there’s already a mask in place. So we can use this mask just by painting on it. Because it’s white that’s automatically telling us that we’re seeing just the black and white elements in the image. So if we start painting with black, and I’m just going to choose a paintbrush to use, I’m going to choose a slightly softer one to start off with. Now if we paint with black on the mask we’re going to start seeing the color appear underneath. And if we go too far then we can paint over it by painting in white. And you can see that we would really need a harder edge brush to really get a good effect here. But we could get a soft effect if we wanted to with this sort of almost not really quite transparent but it almost is in the edges brush. So I could just brush that effect on. It’s not fully opaque at these edges but it’s still giving me a spot color effect. Now I’m just going to trash that mask, drag it off and I’m going to delete the mask. At any time I want to add a mask I can just click this Add Layer Mask icon and that will add it to an adjustment layer or to a regular layer. Now let’s turn off this entire adjustment layer. Let’s go to the background layer and let’s use the quick selection Tool to select over these telephone boxes because this is another way that we could mask things. And now because I have my selection in place we can go back to our adjustment layer, turn it on, make sure I have the mask selected. I have black as my foreground color, I can Alt Backspace, Option Delete on the Mac to fill the mask with the black color that then shows the red through it. If I press Ctrl or Command D I’ll deselect the selection. And now I can zoom into areas that I think may need to be fixed a little bit, move them into position and go and get my black paintbrush. I’m going to make it a fairly hard edge paintbrush because the edges of these phone boxes are pretty hard. And I’m just going to paint over these edges and just make sure that in every place that I created my mask or my selection that everything is working correctly. I’ve actually got some color here so I’m going to switch colors by pressing X to make white my foreground color. I’m just going to tidy up a little area here where I had too much of the background color. And now I’ve gone the other way, again press X and this time bring it back in by painting with black. I’m painting on the mask. Although I’m using the image, I’m actually physically painting on the image but it’s appearing on the mask layer. And again I can just check around here to make sure that I have everything looking the way I want it to look. Let’s just zoom out again. Now there’s another way that I could have created this entire effect and that would have been to have made a duplicate of this background layer, Layer, Duplicate Layer. And I could have converted this to black and white just using Image, Adjustments, Black and White. Now for this one I’m just going to select the default adjustment. And now I’ve got a black and white layer on top of a color layer. Again I can add my mask here and I could paint on that with the paintbrush and black paint to bring my color back in or I could go to this layer and make my selection on this layer just as we did earlier. I’ll just go and quick mask this, really quick mask it. This is a very quick and dirty mask this one. Ok and then let’s go back into this layer and because I have this selection made, in fact it needs to be a little bit better made, I can just Alt Backspace, Option Delete on the Mac to again mask this layer. And then we can go back and tidy it up with the paintbrush and just paint over any areas where we want to bring back the color from the layer underneath. So this is done with two layers, one of which is black and white and one of which is color. But you could do it with an adjustment layer. There are lots of different ways to do it. It’s this Add Mask icon that allows us to add a mask. We’ll always put the mask on a top most layer because we want to poke a hole through this layer to see the one below. We’ll paint with black or white on the mask, and we can also paint with shades of gray. So let’s go and get a shade of grey here. It’s under my paintbrush so let’s see what happens when I paint with it. What we get is part of the current layer here but not all of it. So you can see I’m getting a mix here of the layer below and this layer because I’m painting with gray. Anywhere I paint with black I’m going to get only the layer below. Anywhere I paint with white I’m only going to get this particular layer. So there’s an introduction to masks by creating a spot color effect which is fully editable. Provided we save this as a PSD file, the image is going to be editable at any time by just painting on that mask. I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. If you liked this video please give it a thumbs up on YouTube. Subscribe to my channel if you’d like to know when new videos are being released. And visit for more tutorials for Photoshop, Illustrator and Lightroom.