Color Strokes – Your Photos, Really Special.

So, you’ve got a photo which is nice by itself, but you’d like to make it pop a little bit more. Perhaps you might want to focus someone’s attention on a part of the image, re-color other parts to change the meaning, or even blur parts as part of the artistic license.

While you would have to have had a whole laboratory ten or more years ago to achieve this with real film, digital images allow us a much easier workflow and with Color Strokes for Mac you can quickly put some unique touches on your photos.

Jump past the break to find out more!

Color Strokes – Reborn With Extended Feature Set

Color Strokes is actually not a new kid on the block. It’s been around for a while under the name Color Splash Studio. With the newly released version in July came a new name and an extended feature set which will be our focus today.

In a nutshell, Color Strokes will turn your color photograph into a black and white picture and allow you to either bring the natural color back to certain parts of the image or to add color to original black and white photographs. And you can do all of that without even having to read the manual.

This is something you can achieve in just two-three minutes with Color Strokes

This is something you can achieve in just two-three minutes with Color Strokes

Simply load your photo into the app – either via drag and drop or via the offered dialogs when opening the app – and it will be turned black and white. Without any color to distract you, you can decide on which part you want to bring back.

The interface is quite simple and easy to to understand

The interface is quite simple and easy to to understand

All you have to do now is to simply draw over the object with your brush. To the right, you have tools pane where you can set a lot of parameters, for example the diameter of the brush, allowing you to paint over large areas quickly or being very precise on borders or small areas.

Paint over areas to bring back the original color of your photo

Paint over areas to bring back the original color of your photo

As with everything, the more time you spent on your image the better the effect will be, even though the work on borders of objects can be laborious at times. But if you zoom into the image – try 200–400 percent – it will be much easier to work quickly and still be precise.

Paint Modes – Color, Recolor, De-Color

Let’s take a closer look at those Paint modes at the top of the right pane. The first one is named Native Color and it will let you bring back the original color of the image.

The other two modes are linked because they affect the background – the area of your photo which you haven’t painted over (yet). You can either leave the background grey or you can apply a sepia or blueish filter.

The background color mode offers three presets, the re-color mode any color you want

The background color mode offers three presets, the re-color mode any color you want

This mode offers you brush settings as well. Why? Because if you painted over something that you’d rather keep black and white you can reverse your actions here.

The Re-Color button will allow you to add color to black and white areas. Not the original colors of your photo, but whichever color you chose. There are a couple of presets, but you can choose any color you like.

Let's go crazy!

Let’s go crazy!

This is one of the new features in Color Strokes and it’s a lot of fun – just let your creativity run wild – the effects may surprise even you.

Tip: After re-coloring, try applying a sepia or blue filter to the background. It will affect the colors you just used and may yield even nicer results.

Finetuning

Towards the lower part of the pane you see the Adjust section, which allows you to fine tune the colored areas. What I like is that you can color something first and then play with the sliders; Color Strokes simply applies the changes to all “selected” areas.

Experiment with the Adjust settings

Experiment with the Adjust settings

While most of these settings should be self-explanatory, I want to turn your attention to the Hue slider. It will change the color of your selected areas by simply dragging the indicator left or right. It’s a very easy way to create interesting results without having to go through something like layer effects or stacking layers (Photoshop users will know what I’m talking about).

The Hue slider can work miracles on your image

The Hue slider can work miracles on your image

If you switch to the Background tab, there are fewer options, but the most interesting for me here is the Blur feature. It will, as the name indicates, blur everything that hasn’t been painted over in the Natural Color mode.

It doesn’t look great with every pictures, but with some, you can achieve some really pleasing effects, like letting my leaf appear to hover above the ground here.

Smart use of the Blur adjustment can lead to interesting results

Smart use of the Blur adjustment can lead to interesting results

Lastly, there are three dedicated Effects at the bottom of the right pane: Soft, Dreamy, and Hard Light. It takes a couple of seconds to apply them, but they can yield some impressive results. I wish, though, there was a slider to control the strength of the effect.

The Filters can add a special "strangeness" to your photo

The Filters can add a special “strangeness” to your photo

Nevertheless there is a slider, but this one if for applying a vignette to the entire image. A vignette will darken the corners and edges of an image, thereby helping you to direct the focus to the center.

Done? Share or Print!

Once you’re done editing, you can save your image traditionally to a folder on your Mac or share it directly with services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, tumblr or email it. In every case, you can select the resolution you wish to export.

What’s more, though: Color Strokes has partnered up with CanvasPop to bring you real canvas prints of your images and you can go there via a dedicated button in the menu. If it’s your first time with CanvasPop you will even get a nice $30 discount.

Verdict

If you’ve always wanted to do something special with your photos but either didn’t have the time or money to get down with Photoshop or Pixelmator and iPhoto didn’t offer the range of features you were looking for, Color Strokes might just be the app for you.

It’s pretty easy to use and with some patience and creativity, you can produce neat effects. Give it a try!


Summary

One of the easiest ways to edit your images and recolor them. Color Strokes lets you turn every photo into something special.

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