Selective color—the conversion of part of an image to black & white while creatively leaving or replacing the color of one or more elements of the picture—can be tricky. Full blown image editors like Photoshop have offered the ability for quite a while, but now there is an app that makes selective color photos simple and (quite frankly) fun to create: ColorStrokes.
How does it work?
Unlike complicated layering and masking tools for selective color, ColorStrokes takes a different approach. You can start by taking a photo or choosing a photo from your Camera Roll or Facebook. Once chosen, you can pan and zoom the photo, and choose whether to apply a square filter (good for photos which will end up on Instagram).
After you have loaded your photo, a host of fantastic editing options await in ColorStroke’s well-designed interface. On the top button bar you have options to save your creation, undo, adjust brush settings, apply Effects like “Dreamy” or “Hard Light,” and Adjust image settings, which contains options to let you adjust saturation, hue, brightness, contrast, and vignetting.
ColorStrokes lets you paint in the selective color effects, and those settings are controlled by the bottom button bar. You can choose to selectively paint in the native (original photo’s) color, adjust the background to greyscale, blue tint, or sepia, and choose to repaint your image one of 14 preset colors. You can also choose a custom color, allowing for some dramatic and shocking effects. Buttons along the bottom with an arrow in them indicate choice panels, which you invoke by tapping and holding those buttons.
When finished with your coloring, you simply tap “Done”, and the app gives you a number of sharing options. Choices include: Camera Roll, Postcard (via Sincerely postcards), Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Email, FX Photo Studio (also a MacPhun product), or print it via AirPrint. Be sure to look out for hilarious factoids on the sharing screen—just like a Snapple bottle they can catch you off guard.
Although uniformly amazing, ColorStrokes does have one minor issue: its brushes do not have edge detection, meaning your color paintings can often bleed. The brush softness and size can be adjusted to allow for more precise control, but it is still difficult to get clean colors on small objects.
Is it contagious?
ColorStroke’s interface can only be described by one word: fabulous. It is amazingly simple and incredibly useful. For example, a single tap on your photo will dismiss both button bars, freeing up the entire screen for editing. Awesome features include an intelligent zoomed preview (like Apple’s loupe for text selection) that places itself far away from your painting finger so as not to obscure your work. As a black & white photo editing tool ColorStrokes is easily worth its sale price of $0.99, as the combination of effects and adjustments lets you create dramatic monochrome images.