Envira Gallery Blog

Digital Photography Tips, Tutorials and Resources

Black and White with One Color Pop: Lightroom & Photoshop Guide

Black and White with One Color Pop: Lightroom & Photoshop Guide

by Southie Williamson on Mar 27, 2024

Want to give your images a dramatic flair by learning how to create a photo that’s black and white with one color as an accent?

This photo editing technique, known as selective coloring or Color Splash, makes one color stand out against a muted background by desaturating all colors except one. It’s an easy skill to master, and you can use it to give your photos a fun and playful feel or make them look more sophisticated and striking. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to make a photo black and white except for one color using Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. Ready to get started?

How to Make a Photo Black and White with One Color Accent

Feel free to jump down to the section you need depending on which photo editor you use. Don’t have Lightroom or Photoshop? Get them both with Adobe Creative Cloud for 9.99 / month.

Lightroom Tutorial: How to Make a Photo B&W Except One Color

Adobe offers two versions of Lightroom — Lightroom Classic (LrC) and Lightroom (Lr). Lightroom is a lighter, cloud-based version of Lightroom Classic. We’ll be using Lightroom Classic in this tutorial, but the process of creating a black and white picture with one color is pretty much the same in both versions.

First, you’ll need to import your image into Lightroom. You can do that by opening the Library tab in LrC and selecting Import at the bottom of the left column (or File » Add Photos in Lr).

selective color photo tutorial

If you’d like to edit your image for sharpness, exposure, or clarity, you can do that now. Once you’re satisfied with the general look of your photo, we can move on to selective color editing. 

Step 1: Create a Monochrome Effect by Decreasing Saturation

First, access Lightroom Classic’s Develop mode, located in the menu bar at the top of the application (Lr users should click the Edit tab in the right sidebar).

Develop - Lightroom Classic

For the sake of this tutorial, we’ve decided to turn our image black and white except for the model’s red shirt. In order to achieve this effect, we’ll go to HSL mode.

Expand Color Mixer in the editing sidebar (may say HSL/Color in some versions of Lightroom) and select Saturation.

Lightroom color mixer HSL saturation (LrC)

Since we want a black and white picture with red as the color pop, we’ll decrease the saturation of every color except red to -100. This will produce a b&w effect by turning all other colors grayscale.

Our Saturation menu now looks like this:

LrC saturation - black and white images with red

And as you can see, our image is now almost entirely monochrome except for the subject’s shirt:

Original image appears black and white, except for red tones in the man's shirt, face, and in the taillights of some cars in the background.

You’ll probably still see some unwanted color in other areas of your photo, but don’t worry, we’ll fix that.

Step 2: Make Your Color Pop More Vibrant

Next, we’ll increase the photo’s saturation levels of red so that the color looks more vibrant. This isn’t an exact science. Just play with the saturation level of your remaining color until you’re happy with it.

For this image, we settled on a red saturation of +35.

Red saturation has been increased and appears more vibrant in the initial image.

As you can see, now the model’s red shirt clearly pops against the desaturated background.

Step 3: Remove Color from Any Lingering Areas

In our example, you’ll notice that some red color remains in the background of the photograph and in the model’s face. We can remove this unwanted color with Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush.

Click the Masking icon and select Brush.

Lightroom adjustment brush (LrC)

In the brush settings, under color, set the Saturation to -100.

Lightroom adjustment brush color saturation (LrC)

Then, paint over portions of the image that have retained an unwanted hue, adjusting the brush size as needed.

Once we painted over those problem areas with the Adjustment Brush, our finished photo looks like this:

how to make a photo black and white with one color in Lightroom

That’s all there is to it! Now, try it on your own photos to see what kind of striking edits you can achieve using selective coloring in Lightroom.

Pro Tip: Did you know that Envira Gallery has integration with Lightroom? That’s right, you can create and manage your WordPress galleries right inside Lightroom.

Envira Gallery is the best gallery plugin for WordPress and the perfect tool to streamline your photography workflow. Create beautiful image and video galleries for your website, upload photos to client proofing galleries directly from Lightroom, add an Instagram gallery to your site, and so much more!

Get Envira Gallery Now!

Check out the tutorial below to learn how to accomplish the same technique in Adobe’s Photoshop. Or, learn more about editing in Lightroom:

Photoshop Tutorial: How to Make a Photo B&W Except One Color

In this section, we’ll show you how to create a black and white picture with one color pop using Adobe Photoshop.

To begin, import your image into Photoshop by clicking File » Open and selecting the photo. This is the example photo we’ll using for color isolation in Photoshop.

color isolation photoshop - original image

If there are any edits you want to perform before turning the image black and white plus one color, you should do that before continuing.

Step 1: Duplicate the Photo Layer

When you’re ready, right click on the Background layer in the Layers panel on the right-hand side of your Photoshop screen. Then, select the Duplicate Layer option.

Duplicate layer in Photoshop

A dialog box will appear and ask you to name your new layer. Photoshop’s default name for this new background layer will likely be “Background copy”, but we suggest always renaming your layers for better organization. We’ll call ours Layer 1.

Duplicating the background layer allows us to complete our edit on two separate layers. While this may sound more complicated, you’ll see why working on two layers makes our job easier in a bit.

Step 2: Desaturate the Image

Next, we’ll make one layer black and white. Select the Background layer and press Shift + Cmd+ U on Mac or Ctrl + Shift + U on Windows to desaturate all the colors in your image.

Notice that Layer 1 sits above the Background layer in the Layers panel. To see the monochrome effects of your desaturation, click the Eye icon on the left of Layer 1 in the panel.

Toggling the eye icon hides and reveals that layer.

Step 3: Select Your Accent Color

Next, click the Eye icon to make Layer 1 visible again, and select it in the Layers panel.

Then, go to Select » Color Range from the top menu bar in Photoshop.

Color Range

Here’s where you’ll select your accent color. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re choosing a blue highlight color. Our end goal is to have an image that’s completely desaturated except for the blue water in the photo.

In the Color Range dialog box, choose the Eyedropper Tool with the plus sign. This tool is called Add to Sample, and it will help us select all of the blue tones in the photograph.

Add to Selection Tool in Photoshop

Using the Add to Sample eyedropper tool, click on the accent colors in your image. In our example, we’ll click on the blue water at multiple points in the image.

Selecting multiple points allows us to add multiple shades of blue to the sample. The more shades you capture with the Add to Sample tool, the more accurate the effect will be.

Once you’ve selected your accent color at multiple points, press the OK button to create a selection on your photo.

Step 4: Invert Your Selection

After creating the selection on your photo, press Shift + Command + U on Mac, or Ctrl + Shift + I on Windows. This will inverse the selection you just made and Photoshop will select your entire image except for the color you want to preserve.

Go ahead and press the Delete button from your keyboard to remove the selected area from Layer 1. Now your photo will be black and white except for one color!

We were able to delete the portion of the top layer to reveal the bottom desaturated layer because we used two layers to create our effect. Pretty crafty, right?

You can press Ctrl + D to remove the selection from the image if your marching ants still remain on screen.

Step 5: Touch Up Your Image

If the Add to Selection tool didn’t perfectly exclude all other colors from your image, you can use the Eraser Tool to brush away unwanted hues.

With Layer 1 selected, click the Eraser from your toolbar. You can then adjust the size of the eraser as needed to remove any remaining areas with color.

Ta-da! You’ve now got a perfect black and white image with color in one area. Here’s the before and after of the sample photo we edited in Photoshop.

how to make a photo black and white with one color in Photoshop

We hope this tutorial helped you to learn how to make a photo black and white except one color in Photoshop.

Now, you can apply selective coloring to any of your vibrant photos. It’s is a popular technique that can be used to create a variety of effects.

Want to see what else you can do in Photoshop? Check out these articles:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is it called when a photo is black and white with one color?

Black and white with one color is an editing technique called Color Splash. It’s is a popular technique that can be used to create a variety of effects, from adding a pop of color to an otherwise monochromatic image to highlighting a specific element in a photo. A lot of photographers and social media influencers use it to create a unique style for their photos

How to make one object color and the rest black and white in Photoshop?

To create a selective color effect in Photoshop, where one object is in color and the rest of the image is black and white, you can use a beginner-friendly method that achieves a selective color effect without the use of selection tools:

  1. Create a Black & White adjustment layer, and fine tune it in the Properties panel.
  2. Select the Brush Tool and set your Foreground color to black.
  3. Paint over the object you want to keep in color with a larger brush to reveal the original color of the object while keeping the rest of the image in black and white. Then, refine your edges using a smaller brush for precision.
  4. Optionally, you can adjust the opacity of the Black & White adjustment layer to bring back some of the original color to the image.

How do I pop one color in Lightroom?

To pop one color in Lightroom, open the Color Mixer panel and adjust the HSL saturation level for the color you want to make pop. If you want to make the photo black and white with one color, set all the levels to -100 except the color you want to retain. Then, use the Adjustment Brush, set at a saturation of -100, to paint over and remove unwanted color from any remaining areas.

Is there an app that can easily create a color splash effect on my photos?

Yes, there are many apps available that can easily create a color splash effect on your photos. Some popular options include the Lightroom Mobile App, Color Splash Effect, Color Pop Effects, and Color Touch Effects.

That’s all for this article!

We hope you enjoyed learning how to create black and white image with one color in both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

Not using Envira Gallery? Get started today!

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out How to Optimize Images for Web (WordPress Best Practices).

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and X (Twitter) for the best photography tips, resources, and WordPress tutorials.

Learn how to create striking black and white photos with one color accent using Photoshop or Lightroom editing. Use our step-by-step tutorial to make your images pop!

Using WordPress and want to get Envira Gallery free?

Envira Gallery helps photographers create beautiful photo and video galleries in just a few clicks so that they can showcase and sell their work.


  1. Your tutorials are simply the best!` I don’t understand the other tutorials clearly, but you start from the very beginning and explain each step. Thanks so much! 🙂

  2. What version of Photoshop do I need to do this? I am new to this but really want to be able to make images like this. Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      You can use Adobe Photoshop CS6 or CC to achieve this effect on your photos. 🙂

  3. Hi Waseem, How do I get the layers open? Mine has the temp, tint, exposure, contrast, highlights,shadows, whites, blacks, clarity, vibrance, saturation, open? Regards,


    1. Hey Callie, can you please elaborate more on layers open? I would love to help with this tutorial. 🙂

  4. Wonderfully simple tutorial, got me started on the right path! It would perhaps be useful to mention adjusting the transparency of the colourful layer to vary the vibrancy of the colour, but that could be too obvious for most people.

    1. Hey Karina, you can see the mouse on check box of Layer 1. When you click on this check box, it will make the Layer 1 visible. 🙂

  5. Good and concise!
    Just wanted to add that adding a layer mask instead of deleting gives you a non-destructive workflow


    1. Hey Lori, can you please tell us what didn’t work for you? Any brief details will help us understand the issue, so we can guide you accordingly. 🙂

    1. Hi Claire,

      This appears to be a Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop CS issue. Apologies if that wasn’t clear! And let us know if you have any more questions.

  6. The Photoshop technology is really nice. I am always trying to find a new thing on Photoshop. I really find this article interesting. Thank you for sharing this information.

  7. Thanks for the nice information. I am also using this photoshop technology. I always find new technics on photoshop

  8. Wonderful work. I failed to do this after watching many tutorials for several hours. Finally, I was able to do the job properly by reading your tutorial. Thanks so much for the useful tutorial.

  9. I absolutely love color splash, been doing it since day one in Photoworks and currently I’m learning Lightroom, so the tutorial is super-helpful! Thanks!

Add a Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our privacy policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.