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Colorizing black and white photos

Colorizing black and white photos takes much time and it is labor-consuming affair. But it is very interesting. I was practicing this for three or four months. Attention! Every step of the lesson must be done on a new layer with the «Overlay» blending mode (which is found in the Mode menu in the Layers dialogue). I will not repeat it each time. Technology of colorizing black and white images may use other blending modes, but the «Overlay» mode is more universal and comfortable. Making multiple layers will give us chance to change intensity (opacity) of the appointed colors at the end. So, open black and white photo. In the Image menu scroll to Mode and set from «Grayscale» to «RGB». I specifically chose the girl’s photo to show how to paint the skin.

Let’s start from the tools settings. Set the soft edges of the brush. Its opacity should be 5-10%. During this training we do not need any other settings. We will make the skin color on the face. On the Color panel specify the orange color, but make it much lighter.


Create a new layer and set the «Overlay» blending mode. Using the brush paint the face carefully. Do not rush to erase the excess strokes if you got a little out from the desired area. This is the case when the inaccuracy is good.

Now you must tint the lips. Create a new layer. A very common mistake is they afraid to make the lips red and they stay either yellow or brown (particularly as it concerned men). Do not hesitate, use the red color and the suitable brush and work on the lips. It’s a very big secret that you must use several shades of the same color. Make teeth a little yellow immediately. Yellow is more natural color, but over-white is a clear sign of photofinishing.

Now let’s work on the eyes. Eyes treatment is one of the key moments in the photoprocessing. If the cornea is bright it means eyes are either gray or green or blue. If the cornea is dark the eyes are certainly brown. Pick the color you want and paint corneas. There are always rubefactions in the left and right sides of the eyes. It’s explained by the humans’ physiology. If you do not make the rubefactions, you’ll get a lifeless look.

When painting films, they usually leave such color. But everyone can see that something is wrong. This «something» is lack of the pink color. A human being usually has a pink nose, chin, forehead and cheeks. In order to make the human look at this stage you must create a new layer, set the «Overlay» blending mode and correct these parts using the red brush.

Now let’s work on the hair. Hair color is usually chosen in a blind or blinkered way and then corrected using the Hue-Saturation color tool. organic seo company . By the way, do not overdo with the saturation. I chose this color:

The main color is specified. Now use a small brush to paint the hair tresses with the various shades of the main color.

Then I painted the scarf. Possibly it might be either monotonous or colorful. I made the scarf monotonous but used various shades of the same color to make it realistic.

A very interesting point is the girl has a black leather jacket and leather gloves. You are mistaken if you suppose black and white objects do not need the colorizing. In nature nothing is completely black or completely white, everything has some nuances. In order to make the jacket and the gloves more natural, I created a new layer with the «Overlay» blending mode and paint blue.

Now let’s work on the grass. To make it natural you should paint it using various shades of green.

You may lightly tint paths brown.

Paint trunks and large branches of trees saturated brown.

Use a small brush to paint the leaves. Leaf colors should be red, yellow and green all year round, but you choose the appropriate color.

Create a new layer and tint blue white pieces of the sky. It’s okay if you’ll touch the trees’ branches a bit, it is even necessary.

When we painted the photo brightness and contrast of some details could abyss. This can be corrected with white and black. Using white brush on a new layer tint the parts that should be lighter. And using dark brush tint the parts that should be darker.

To eliminate the possibility of any gray pixels presence create a new layer and apply any two color gradient. I used red and blue with opacity 10%.

Basically, photo is ready. Now it’s time to adjust the layers that seem wrong. You may color other details. The more colorful details are on the image, the more realistic the whole photo is.

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