Make an Epic Color Mashup with 3 Photos You Already Have

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

Recently, we showed you how to make color photos from black & white pics using century-old photo methods, our digital cameras, and a few extra tools.

We couldn’t resist playing around with this incredible method, and we ended up discovering some seriously amazing stuff.

We’re talking color channels.

Who knew separating them would create digital photo concoctions more colorful than a fruit salad!

This time, you won’t need any filters or special items: just 3 digital pictures and a photo-editing program to mash ’em up!

Make a Color Mashup with Color Separation

So, what’s the big deal?

beforeIf you missed our last article, here’s a quick recap:

  • Color photographs are made using three different layers of color: Red, Green, and Blue.
  • We learned that by taking three black and white pictures, each with a red, green, or blue filter, we could combine the three separate black and white images into a real full color image!

Now we’re taking what we learned from this hundred year old method and using it to modify our color images for cool effects!

What you’ll need:


  • Any digital camera (Yep, any. Even your cell phone camera if you want!)
  • A tripod/Gorillapod (or something steady to place your camera on).
  • Adobe Photoshop or any image editing software that can adjust the color channels of an image.

Step 1: Take three photos

beforeYou’re going to be taking three photos in a row where something is changing or moving in each shot, but keeping the background steady with your tripod.

We set up our tripod in front of a white wall and had members of Team Photojojo pose differently in each pic, but the possibilites are endless!

You might want to try shooting a whole bunch of photos (not just three) so that you can pick the sequence you like best when you import them.

If you already have three photos taken with a tripod, you’re in luck! You’ve already completed step one!

Step 2: Download & open your images


Download the images to your computer from your digital camera.

Now, open the three photos of your choice in your image editing program.

Keep all three photos open at the same time.

Step 3: A space to work

beforeIn your image editing software, make a new document that is the same resolution, width, and height as your three images. We’re going to be copying & pasting the three images here, so it’s important that they’re the same size. (The images we used here were 1000×615 pixels at 72dpi.)

Make sure to keep the other 3 images open! You should now have 4 documents open in your window.

Step 4: Channel change!

beforeTo continue, you’ll have to know how to separate the different color channels in your image. (You can familiarize yourself with channels by checking out our tutorial on black and white image conversion here.)

Deselect the green and blue channels for your first image, leaving only the red channel.

(You’ll notice your image turns funky colors with two channels turned on. With only one channel on, you’ll get a black and white image. That’s exactly what you want, so if that’s what you’ve got, great!)

Use the select tool to select and copy the red channel only.

Open your blank document and use the same process to select its red channel. Paste in the red channel from your first image.

Repeat the process in the same document for all three channels, and you’re almost there!

Step 5: Finish up and celebrate!

beforeWhen you’re done, make sure to turn on all the color channels in your blank document.

You should get something that looks like the photo on the right!

(Anything that didn’t change in the three photos should appear normally colored, and anything that changed from photo to photo should appear to be Cyan, Magenta or Yellow in color.)

If you’re seeing some funky lines around your image, simply use the move tool to nudge your channel layers around until they’re as snug as a jigsaw puzzle.

Voila! You’re done!

Taking it further:


  • Make some out-of-this-world motion shots (like the one we shot above of our friend bowling) simply and easily with your cameras burst mode, then combine them for a Muybridge-esque masterpiece!
  • See what happens when you switch the different colors around, or try changing only one channel. Bonus points if you find a real live dino to photograph!
  • For a double exposure toy camera users could only dream of: combine two or three completely different photos for a rainbow of colors all over your favorite shots!
  • Feeling extra daring? Try using film instead of digital!
  • Psst! Did you know we’re in India and we’re posting photos of our adventures every single day? You can check ’em out on our flickr page!