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It may seem silly to consider the notion of adding color back to an image that was originally in color, but was then converted to black and white. But as you'll see in this lesson, hand tinting an image to apply Custom colors in a selective way, can provide a creative outlet that's a lot of fun as well. In this case I have an image that I've already converted to black and white, and for simplicity in this lesson, I've flattened the image. Normally of course, I would leave all my layers intact, but for learning purposes, this is a little bit more convenient. I'm going to paint onto a separate layer affecting only the color in the image. The underlying texture will remain.
So I'll add a new layer by clicking on the Create New Layer button, the blank sheet of paper icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. I'll also double-click on the name of this layer and give it a more meaningful name, for example, Color Painting. I'll then use the pop up at the top of the left of the Layers panel, to change the Blend mode, to color. With the Color blend mode, this layer will only affect the color of the underlying image, not the actual tonal variations. In other words, we'll still see all the texture, we'll just be adding color.
I can then click on the Foreground color to bring up the Color Picker and choose a New color I'd like to paint with. Let's start off for example with the water. I'll choose a Shade of Cyan that I think might work well, using something that has a relatively low degree of saturation. We don't want to overpower the underlying image. I'll go ahead and Click OK here, and make sure that my opacity is set to 100% on the Options bar. Also notice that I'm using the Normal blend mode, for the brush on the options bar. The color blend mode is only set for the actual layer that I'm working on.
I can also make sure that I'm using a soft edge brush and generally speaking I would use a round brush for this technique. Although, you could certainly use a variety of different brushes, if you'd prefer. With the brush and my layer configured as needed and a foreground color set that I want to use to color the image, I can simply start painting over the image. Right off the ****, I see this is a little bit too saturated. So I'm going to press Ctrl+z on Windows, or Cmd+Z on Macintosh, to undo that step. I'll then Click the Foreground color once again to bring up the Color Picker, and choose something a little bit less saturated.
I'm going for something of a watercolor effect and that's looking much much better. In fact, I'm thinking this almost looks like an old nostalgic postcard, which is an effect I'm actually kind of liking. So I'll continue painting here. In this case, just painting over all of the water. Okay, I'm ready to work on this sand now. So I'll Click on the Foreground Color Swatch to bring up the Color Picker and let's go find a shade of sort of yellowish brown that looks like it might work well for the sand. And let's see how that looks. Awe, that looks great actually. I like that a lot. So I'll go ahead and paint that in.
Now keep in mind I don't need to necessarily cover the entire area. I could let the painting blend off into the edges of the image and maybe leave some areas in the original gray scale. In this case though, I think I'm going to paint all the way out to the edge of the image. Just keep in mind that you can be as flexible and creative as you'd like, when using this technique. I'll go ahead and choose a Shade of Green that might work well for the mountain there in the background. That's Diamond Head in Hawaii. So, I want something relatively kind of deep and almost jungle like. That looks kind of interesting.
Again, going for that sort of water color, old post card sort of look. All right, so we'll paint into the rest of the greenery here. Notice that I'm not worried about all the various objects that we find in the background here. For this technique we're not trying to produce a photo-realistic result. It will obviously be an image that has been painted, so I don't need to worry about all the fine details within the image. At this point I'm ready to go find a shade of blue for my sky. Something that's a little bit deep, and not too purply.
No, that's way too saturated, so let's undo that with a Cmd+Z on the Macintosh, or Ctrl+Z on Windows, and let's go find something that's less saturated. No, that's still a little bit too saturated, so I'll chose one more time here. Let's see. that looks pretty good, so we'll go ahead and paint that into the sky. No, I'm still not happy with it actually. So I'm going to go choose a Shade of cyan. I think that might work out just a little bit better for our sky. But a cyan that's reasonably close to blue.
I don't want it to look the same as the water of course. Awe, that looks pretty nice. And so we'll paint that into the sky areas of the image. Now at any time if I decide that I don't like the effect I've produced, I can of course go back and paint again. I can choose a different color and paint over the same area as needed. But it can be helpful at times to go sample an existing color, or to take a look at your work. I'm going to turn off my Background Image Layer, and you can see where I've painted.
You can also see all the areas that I've missed. Now in this case, I like that effect because it gives me some streaks that don't have quite as much color in the final image. But if you don't like them, you could certainly fill them in. By turning off the Background Image Layer, I can now see this layer a lot more easily, and I can fill in all of my little gaps. I can also sample a color from here if needed. For example, let's see I need to get back to this shade of green, but I don't know how to accomplish that just through the Color Picker. I will need to figure out what the particular RGB values are for this color.
I certainly could do that but when using the Brush tool, it's much easier to simply hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh and Click on the color that I'd like to use. I can then continue painting with that color, anywhere I would like. When I'm finished cleaning up my work, I can turn on the Background Layer once again, so that I can see the actual image. Painting color into a black and white photo, allows you to make your own decisions about which colors are best for a given image. It also allows you to create an image that takes on the feel of a painting, more than a photograph.
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