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COLORIZING VINTAGE BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHS-IN EASY STEPS USING ADOBE PHOTOSHOP

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

Before
Before
After
After

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.


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    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 3 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.

    • Funkarkhalid profile image
      Author

      Khalid Ahmed 3 years ago from Lucknow

      I'm delighted, jainismuc.

    • profile image

      Rajesh Pal 3 years ago

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

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