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Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop

A friend got this cool peel-apart Polaroid as And because it's a peel, because it's a I'm going to start with Josh's sweater here.

Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop

A friend got this cool peel-apart Polaroid as a birthday gift, so we've been playing with it. So, I've ended up with all of these black and white prints. And because it's a peel, because it's a very old camera the, the prints are pretty grungy. So I've got what looks like a nice antique photo, but there's a whole other realm of antique that I can go, which is the hand colored look that people used to do before colored prints. People would take black and white photos and, using a very particular type of tint, they would actually just paint color onto images.

What was cool about doing that was that you didn't actually have to know how to paint. It was really like a coloring book. All you had to do was get color into the right place and the tonality that was already there would do the rest for you because the tints weren't opaque. The tonality in the image could show through the tint and so you'd end up with these very soft pastelie-like hand colored images. I am going to do that here. It is a really easy thing to do in Photoshop as long as you have any version of Photoshop that supports layers, and you have one older than that, it wouldn't run on any new operating system anyway.

So, I've got my, my image here that I've scanned. What I'm going to do is add a layer on top of it, not an adjustment layer, an actual image layer. I want an empty one. And I'm just going to paint color into this. I'm going to start with Josh's sweater here. I'm just going to pick a color of some kind. I'll go with a blue of some kind. And I've got a paintbrush and as with any of the brushes in Photoshop, I can change the size of the brush with the left and right bracket keys, I just need to get some paint on here. Now, as you can see, I am not getting anything that looks remotely like a realistic hand tinting look here.

I'm getting just blue paint spilled on top of a black and white image. I'm not done yet. So if I, with this layer selected, go to the blending mode menu. The pop menu over here. This lets me change how pixels in one layer interact with pixels in the layers below them. So I've got blue pixels up here, and these black and white pixels down here. I want them to merge. And there are a lot of different ways I can do that. To get this hand-tinted look, what I want to do is multiply them. That's going to result in a darker pixel, so I picked a kind of light blue, aiming for a navy.

This still doesn't look quite right. The blue is too strong. It's overpowering the underlying layer. I'm just going to lower my opacity to about there, and now I'm getting still the original tonality Of the black and white image, but with some blue layered on top of it. This is exactly how hand tinting worked in the old days except I don't get messy paints all over my fingers, and now I can just sit here and paint over his sweater. And it, it really does feel like I know what I'm doing even though I'm not painting any highlight or shadow or anything.

I'm just getting all of that for free. And now I just work through the rest of the image, picking colors and painting them into the appropriate place. I don't need to do any other adjustments, this level of blending is going to work for all of the other colors in my image. You do have to be careful, I can't be too sloppy I, I need to stay within the lines. I need to be careful. It's, it's critical in eyes that you not paint over the whites in the eyes. They need to remain white. If you do paint over them, you need to grab an eraser tool and go back and put the white back in or take the color out, depending on whether you're a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person.

One thing to take note of, if I, I've chose a flesh tone color here that I think is working pretty well. And so I might go and paint his skin and then say okay next I'm going to paint his shirt. If I need to go back and get that skin color though I've got a problem cause I cannot just eye dropper this color that I've painted on. In other words let's say I then go and work on his shirt. We'll get in the let me give him a pink shirt It's not really his color, but I'm going to try it anyway. Now let's say I want to go back and touch up that skin tone.

If I grab my eye dropper tool and click I'm not actually getting the original skin tone color that I was painting with. I'm getting the color of that, of that flesh tone color mixed with the black and white texture that was beneath it. The only way I can get back to that exact skin tone color is to turn all of my blending off. So go from multiply back to normal, and from 35% opacity back to 100%. Now, I can sample that color and then set all of this stuff back and I will have the skin tone color that I'd found before.

What I might do then while I'm painting is to just sock these colors away up here in my swatches palette, with my skin tone color selected I can just click right there. And I might even give this a name, Josh skin tone, because I might choose a different skin tone for Jacob. And now I can go back later and get that up. So I can build up a little palette of colors. Now I just paint through my image, and I'm done. If I want, I can flatten the image later. But what's nice is because these are all in a discrete layer, I can turn them off and on. I can go back and edit them. I can easily erase them. I can alter them. I can change the pink shirt to a green shirt, whatever.

I know that I'm going to be okay. So this is a very nice way of getting a classical, hand-colored, antique look on images that you might have that already have an old analog look to them.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

68 video lessons · 42333 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 28s
    1. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 6h 42m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s

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