Semester Two Project: Pleasantville (PleasantLastFirst.psd)

Students will use the skills learned in exercise eleven (E11LastFirst.psd)  to digitally paint one photo of a group of things they find on the Web, then pick the best shot from 15-20 shots taken in class, on campus, or at home. The entire photo will be converted to grayscale and they will choose one part of the image to be the subject and paint it- it will be the only part of the photo in color. Some people call this Splash Photography!

Here is the trailer to the movie that inspired this project:

digital art by Alexis Lara

Use this powerful tool: Color, as a way of drawing your viewer’s attention to your subject like the photo above. This is called EMPHASIS. I used bold italic type just now in the word: Emphasis to separate it from the other words.

Notice how our eyes quickly pass over the audience as they are all done in black and white, to pay more attention to the couple placed at top center. We give slightly more attention to the girl on the right for three main reasons: 1. she is more brightly lit than the boy,  2. her umbrella creates a large, red halo around her that attracts our attention and 3. she is placed to the right and as westerners we read from left to right so our eyes are more used to moving that way . Remember to think of using the rule of thirds and the Golden Spiral to lead your viewer’s eye though your image towards your subject. You may break these rules, but be aware of them before you do. This image uses both!

Can you see the use of the spiral to lead the eye though the image, ending up with our subject being the girl? Along the way we are introduced to 1. the audience, then 2. the boy, then 3. the girl, and finally 4. the background rain and sky (which the artists uses as a frame to draw attention. We call this a visual hierarchy. That’s a fancy way of saying “the artist plans what the audience looks at first to last”.

First you must find a worthy subject to photograph. Pick something that you are passionate about. If you have a family or team gathering with many objects or many people around this type of shot may be perfect as it will allow you to separate your subject from the rest of the image by way of colorizing it. Imagine a race that is nearing the finish line, with 3-5 runners in contention to win a close race. One of them might be selected to be your subject- they will be colorized while the rest of the runners will be in black and white. make sure your subject is big enough in the image to grab our attention!

Or you could use an image with a repeating element, such as the pumpkins in the photo below… see how the colorized pumpkin leads our eye towards the child, then the rainbow of color in her jacket seals the deal by focusing our attention on her. She is the subject! Again, notice the use of the Golden Spiral in the comparison below…


See the use of the Spiral in this amazing piece by student George R.


How else does the Golden Spiral get used?



Now, lets start your project! To begin: create a folder inside your student folder called Pleasantville and keep your raw, unedited images in there. We will need them again later…

PART TWO- Web Version

Go on the Web and find an image of a group of things: it can be almost anything.


A group of athletes…

herd giraffe

a herd of animals…

bridal party

A group of women…


A group of kids (or shoes)…


Completed Colorizing assignment by Jerry Lopez. Notice the use of the complex selections and the use of the Brush Tool! The Golden Spiral leads us perfectly to the subject as chosen by the artist.

Pick one and open it in Photoshop…



Here is the animal painted only with the PaintBucket Tool (flat and boring). No depth or shading done.


After using the Airbrush Tool, here is what the painted layers look like when you turn off the visibility on the photo layer!

ColorizeGomezLuisdone right

Notice the depth and 3D effect gained from using the Brush Tool with a Cool color for the shadows. Use the WACOM for best results!


Save it as ColorizeLastFirst.psd and turn it in.

 PART THREE- Your Photo


Painted photo by William Rosete.

Open one of the photos you took in Photoshop and save it as PleasantLastFirst.psd in your student folder on the Digital Photo server. Now unlock the background layer, call it original. With the layer selected, go to Image-Mode-Lab Color. Now click on the channels palette which is hidden behind the layers palette. Click on the channel called “Lightness” , to select it, then throw away the “A” channel by clicking and dragging it into the trash icon at the bottom of the palette.  You will be asked to flatten layers- click “yes”. Now throw away the other unused channel below the only one left. Watch what happens to your photo when all the color is converted to different shades of gray. Here is an image showing 6 different color treatments, with the right middle being done in grayscale. Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version up close.

Now throw away the other unused channel below the only one left. Watch what happens to your photo when all the color is converted to different shades of gray. Here is an image showing 6 different color treatments, with the right middle being done in grayscale. Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version up close.

Now again go to Image-Mode-and choose Grayscale. Once more, choose Image-Mode-this time finally choose RGB color.


Remember the skills you learned in Exercise 11?



Use those painting skills from E11 on this project now. Check out this amazing brushwork from student Aristeo Nario!


Now open the original photo you took again in Photoshop. Import the original photo as a layer into your PleasantLastFirst file. You can keep the original color layer as a way of checking the look of the colors when you need a reference later, just as we did when you colorized the still life of fruits and flowers below.

Why don’t we simply convert from RGB to Grayscale? When done this way, lots of the important information is lost and the resulting photo looks flat and lifeless. By keeping some of the “lightness” channel, we keep some of the very important info we need for the image to look right. Check out this image converted from color to grayscale after each separate color channel has been selected and adjusted.

Notice how the version in the lower left corner (B & W Auto) is the worst one. It is flat and lifeless compared to some of the others because when Photoshop automatically converts images from color to black and white, it drops the information relating to light and dark (values). Your photo needs the differences between light and dark, all the subtle shades of grays to provide depth and realism.

Now we are ready to edit our photo by painting it in Photoshop. Make and save a selection for each separate part of your subject, saving each selection and creating a layer for each new selection. So if your subject is a car like this one you would make and save a selection just for the body of the car:

Click on the image of the car and click again to zoom in on the lower right-hand side of the image and look at the red circled part where it shows the layer mode is normal. When you fill your selections on each new layer, you must change the layer mode to color each time. A new layer has been created and inside the selection that was saved for the body of the car, green has been filled into that selection. Notice that the green color fill is on its own layer! You must do the same- each new layer will only have one (1) color fill at a time.

Create and save a layer for each area of color that must be painted. Then go through your image and make and save a selection for each part of the object, person, or thing you have chosen to be your “colorized” subject. Be careful to find each separate part of the image, just like the still life exercise from last week. Only your subject should be in color!

You colors do not always have to be completely realistic… notice how some abstraction of reality grabs the attention of the audience. 

This image would have selections and layers for:

  • green hair/eyebrows
  • orange scarf
  • lips
  • shirt
  • nails
  • eyes
  • skin
  • orange
  • red/blue/green/purple drips from orange

Have fun painting and remember -you are the creator of the universe of your photo, so you are in charge of everything! This project is worth 100 points…

  1. Take 15-20 photos of groups
  2. Save them all in your Pleasantville folder inside your student folder on Dig Photo Server
  3. choose two best photos
  4. change versions of them from color to grayscale
  5. import color originals as layers
  6. select each area of your subject piece by piece
  7. create layers for each piece
  8. paint your subjects!
  9. Turn in your best one to Edmodo as PleasantLastFirst.psd

holi-festival-black-and-white-photography-with-color-006_2 holi-festival-black-and-white-photography-with-color-018_2pleasantdelarosamelinda2pleasantquintanamenjivardanielpleasantpadillarene2


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