Greyscale picture with coloured highlight

Have you ever wondered how those pictures are made where everything is grey but a pair of bight red lips? Let me show you how it’s done, I’m using a picture of a blossom to lead you to the process and you will be surprised how fast and easy you can make your pictures.


For your first try you should get a picture with one spot that you want to be coloured, and with a not too complex outline. A simple blossom for example. It is very important that the picture is converted to PNG and that it isn’t JPG. Why? Because JPG won’t work with transparency which we’ll use for the effect. So if the picture is JPG you can use the GIMP itself to convert it. Just open it and save it as a PNG file, easy.

Let’s get started

Open the picture, or yet better a copy of it in the GIMP. Backups are priceless.

Go to the layer dialog and duplicate the layer containing the image. In case you can’t find it, it’s one of the small buttons at the bottom of the dialog. This new layer will be our grey part of the picture.

Go to: Colors –> Colorify, select white and press OK

You should now have a grey layer in front of you coloured one, you can probably can guess what’s our next step by now: Cutting the front layer, so the coloured behind it is visible. Turn the opacity to 90%, so it’s easier to see where the edges are but remember to turn it back to 100% once we’re done.


We’re doing this in two steps, first one is using the path tool to get most of the layer cut roughly inside the objects form. Just click around the edges with the path tool, and use create a lot of nodes so you can already get a lot of the work done before we move to the next step. When you covered the outline and press <ENTER> to create a selection from the path, now press <DELETE>.

Now the last step. Select the erase tool, zoom in <+> and erase the grey layer on the edges, not outside of them and that’s it. Quite easy, wasn’t it?

Picture Wild Rosa gallica Romania by Bogdan

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