ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on August 6, 2013

Coloring black&white photographs

In early days of photography, to get the color effect in vintage black&white photographs was time-taking, cumbersome and was done manually using water soluble transparent colors. Thanks to the present day’s revolutionary technology, with the help of computer and efficient photo-editing software, etc we are able to change our images to suit various artistic and commercial requirements. Unlike past, now we can very easily manipulate the photograph, but for doing this one has to have a little artistic and creative ability, a little talent to imagine and handle the tools available with the editing software.

Here I am talking about colorizing vintage black and white photographs, applying very simple technique by using adobe photoshop.You do not have to purchase software (Like Gimp) specially written for the purpose .To start with, it is advisable to prepare the print for coloring, by cropping, sharpening and removing any dust or scratches .A photograph having pure black and pure white is not very suitable for this process as it is difficult to colorize them.

Duplicate layer

Step 1:

1. In the first step, open a blak&white image and convert it to RGB mode by choosing Image>Mode>RGB color from the Menus. Duplicate the background Layer by choosing Layer>Duplicate layer.Select this duplicate layer in the layer palette.

Open Black & white photograph
Open Black & white photograph

Enter Quick mode mask

Step 2:

Select this duplicate layer in the layer palette and press’Q’ on the key board or select Quick mask mode in the tools menu. After this select the Brush tool and by adjusting the size and opacity according to the area of the image you want to paint, start painting over the area ….the result should be red coloration of the image. You can fine tune the coloring by using eraser tool, in case the red paint spills over the area. When the result is according to your liking, press Q on the key board to exit the Quick Mask Mode. This will result in showing the selection in marching ants.

Enter Quick mode mask
Enter Quick mode mask

Inverse selection

Step 3:

Go to the Selection Menu>Inverse selection. This will result in the area which we have painted and in which we want to color the by manipulating the RGB values.

Inverse selection
Inverse selection

Adjust color balance

Step 4:

Now go to the Image>Adjustment>color Balance. On the tone balance read out select shadows, mid tone or highlights according you requirement.By moving the slider on Red,Green and Blue scales ,towards left or right, we can create millions of shades of colors.Thus according to our choice, we bring out the colors in the image.By painting ,in quick mode mask,we in fact select the particular image pixels, for manipulating their RGB value, in between 0-255.And when the desired color arrives, we then move on to other portions of the photograph to be colored.

Adjust color balance
Adjust color balance

Arrive at the required color

Step 5:

Adjust the color you want by moving the sliders left or right. Do this until the required color arrived. Click OK.

Exit Quick mode mask

Step 6:

By pressing 'Q' on the key board or by going to Select>deselect.

Exit quick mode mask
Exit quick mode mask

Step 7:

Arrive at the required color in the turban
Arrive at the required color in the turban

Repeat the step from 3 to 6

Step 8:

Repeat Steps 3 to 6. Paint every part of the image where you want to color separately .One thing which is important, that you don’t have to duplicate the image again and again but leave this duplicate image selected, whatever changes you are making you are making in this duplicate layer. After working on the entire image when the final image ready, Go to the Layer Menu>Flatten image. In this finished image one can adjust the brightness and contrast, or arriving at a good result, level and curves can be utilized. After attempting this technique, you never thought colorizing black and white images could be so easy and efficient.

Produce color in entire image
Produce color in entire image

Fully colored iamge

Final step:

Full colors generated in the original black and white image.

Finished image,having colors all-over
Finished image,having colors all-over

Many photographer,photo-artists,graphic designers,have invented many techniques for colorizing vintage black and white photographs, as we all have a large quantity of such photos in our collection and archives.I am fond of experimenting with the photo editing tools and thus arrived at this procedure, which is not only easy but can be learned and used by beginners also.

Examples of producing colors in black&white photo


One good example of above technique

In two photographs, one can see the difference very clearly, where by applying above mentioned technique, the original old black and white photograph converted into fully colored photograph.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Rajesh Pal 

      5 years ago

      Thank you Sir, Very interesting & needful tips shared by you

    • Funkarkhalid profile imageAUTHOR

      Khalid Ahmed 

      5 years ago from Lucknow

      I'm delighted, jainismuc.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      5 years ago from Pune, India

      Thank you for sharing this know how, it is well explained easy to understand will help beginners.

      Shared with my Hub followers.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)