You might have seen photos that feature this dramatic effect: one object in color with the rest in black and white. Here are the best apps and tutorials that show you how to recreate this effect.

There are many different names for the same effect: color pop, color burst, color splash, desaturate all colors except one, and selective colorization. You can search for any of these terms in the App Store or Google Play Store to find apps that do what you want.

New York yellow taxis in a black and white scene

How it works

Most apps take the same approach to this effect:

  1. Desaturate the entire image (make the whole image black and white)
  2. Use a paintbrush to highlight the parts that you want to color
  3. Erase the sections that you unintentionally colored and neaten up the effect.

Best apps for selective color effect

Color Pop app previewColor Pop Effects Photo Editor

Available for free on iPhone/iPad and Android devices, paid upgrades available.

Color Pop Effects Photo Editor uses the same method mentioned above: decolor the image and then highlight the parts you want colored. It also includes a nice additional feature that allows you to change the highlight color of the final image. For example, you could take a black and white image with a yellow taxi and make it blue instead.


Video Color Pop effectVideo Color Editor – Change Video Color, Add Video Filters and Vintage Effects

Available for free on iPhone/iPad, paid upgrade available

Although this app is available for free, all of the best features are for sale and at just $0.99, it’s very good value. This app uses a different method to the other featured apps: Use the eye dropper tool to highlight which color you want to remain colored. The rest of the video frames will be converted to black and white.

Using this method rather than the “Paint to color” method allows you to use this method on videos without having to individually color every frame.


Photo Splash – photo editor for instagram snapchat

Available for free on iPhone/iPad and Android devices, paid upgrade to remove ads

A good alternative to Color Pop Effects that includes similar features for a lower price.


Photoshop Tutorial

Photoshop gives you more control over the colors of your photos than apps ever could. It’s good to learn how to create these effects on your own to get the most control. Envira Gallery wrote an excellent Photoshop tutorial:

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

Adobe Premiere Tutorial

If you have Adobe Premiere, try this tutorial for desaturating videos except for one color:

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