How to make your pictures stand out on social media with very little effort

Social media is a numbers game for the most part. If you can put out 20 posts of decent quality in the same time others take to create one post of incredible quality you are going to gain more exposure.

With that in mind I have found that there is a middle ground between the two which is decent pictures that look so unique they make people pause when scrolling through their feed in whatever social app they use to stumble over your content.

It’s a very simple effect — as long as you have a drawing tablet or Ipad Pro or anything with a stylus you can use to draw. If you don’t this tip won’t work for you because the lack of a stylus turns this process from a great looking five-minute job to a bad-looking five-hour job and no one wants that.

It’s a simple effect called color splash or selective colouring to some. For examples of how it looks let me direct you to my instagram account and I think you’ll agree that those pictures look unique on first and maybe even interesting on second glance if I did my job well.

The reasons for that are quite interesting in my opinion and make it one of my favorite effects even if it wasn’t so simple to achieve.

  • It blurs out a lot of the ‘noise’ in an image that distracts from the main focus.
  • Opposite to the former it can also be used to create a second focus point by highlighting little details that would otherwise drown in all that noise or be invisible compared to the main focus. Think a red car passing through the background that wouldn’t stand out in an all-color or all-black and white image.
  • Almost no one uses the effect which makes it stand out on its own.
  • It combines the benefits of colored images with the interesting aesthetics of black-and-white photography.
  • It can be used to make a green object stand out against a normally green background (case in point the header image of this post).

With that in mind I’ll get to the meat of the article now, achieving this look.

There are many programs you can do this in, the two I use are Photoshop on the desktop and Affinity Photo on the iPad Pro.

Both of them have the same approach:

  • An effect layer ‘black and white’ is put over the main image
  • The pen tool is used to draw black on the areas you want to keep coloured, thereby ‘erasing’ the effect of the effect layer in those parts.
  • You are done.

As you can see the process is very simple to achieve and depending on the objects it can take very little to maybe a bit of time. Usually I’m done within five minutes and have a quite nice and unique result which is just one thing I love about the effect.

Figuring out what to leave colored takes a bit of practice but it’ll come naturally pretty quickly. I like to focus on either very bright and flashy colors for the maximum contrast between color and black-and-white or pick just little details and color them in depending on the picture.

This is a good example for picking out the flashy colors and drawing the eyes directly to the main object in a shot:

While this one is very subtle as it barely contrasts the rest of the image: