How to Add Color to Black & White Photos

Things You'll Need

  • Digital photos
  • Photo-editing software that utilizes layers

The process of adding a splash of color to a black-and-white photo is called colorization. Colorization is often used to draw attention to a specific object or aspect of a photo. If you have seen a colorized photo, you might have wondered how to mimic the effect. Fortunately, it is not very complicated.

Acquire a digital image. This can be done by transferring from a digital camera or by scanning a photo to your computer.

Open the image in your photo-editing software.

Make a copy of the image onto a separate layer.

Convert the top layer of the photo into black and white. Most photo-editing software will have an option to convert to black and white automatically, or desaturate the photo. If not, you can do this manually by setting the saturation of the photo to zero.

Select the eraser tool.

Use the eraser tool on the black-and-white layer of the photo. Erase the section of the photo you want to be in color.

Select the empty region of the photo on the black-and-white layer.

Increase the selection by about five pixels to start.

Feather the image by five pixels.

Repeat steps eight and nine as needed until the edges of the erased section blend well with the rest of the photo.

Save your photo as a JPEG file or other format of choice.


  • If your photo-editing software has a history brush tool, this can also be used in place of the eraser.

    If you want your splash of color to be slightly muted, you can slightly decrease the saturation of the colored layer.


  • Always work on layers to avoid making permanent changes to the original photo. If you choose not to use layers, save your project as a different file name before doing anything else.