Join John Derry for an in-depth discussion in this video Determining the color scheme, part of Colorizing Black-and-White Photographs with Photoshop.
- View Offline
In many cases, it is simply impossible to have any knowledge of what the color of an item is in an old photograph. In these cases performing some research via the web can help to at least limit, if not specify the colors of a past era. So one of the first things I wanted to deal with was. You know, what did Roosevelt look like? And interestingly enough if you search the web there apparently are no color photographs of Roosevelt, at least ones that exist.
And there certainly was color photography in the early twentieth century, but for some reason they just don't exist. I like to think that perhaps the White House photographer thought, oh colors is just a fad. It's going to go away, so we're not going to use that. Little did he know it became the main source of photography later on. But as a result there is no color photographs of Roosevelt. And so I went to the web and searched for Theodore Roosevelt painting. Now there are certainly many color images, of Roosevelt as portrayed by various artists.
But this gives me a reference now and I can start to use this to get a sense of you know, what color is his hair? What color are his eyes? They're blue by the way, and this'll help me out quite a bit. So just being able to look at paintings of Roosevelt in lieu of no photographs, gives you a good starting point to understand. What color various aspects of this man might be. And let's go back, the other thing that is important, I'm going to go ahead and zoom up to 100% here, so we can look at, Teddy's face.
And I looked just for male images of kind of the outdoorsman type imagery. And I found this image, which is a really nice source of looking at the various colorations that happen in the human face. You know, our face is not one color. It's not just called flesh. There are all sorts of subtle tonalities going on. In fact the way that the skin of the face works. Certain areas have blood vessels closer to the skin. The top layer of the skin, than other areas. And those areas tend to be red. And they do it for the purpose of being able to keep those areas warm.
And so the cheeks, the nose, and in this case, this guy even has his chin is redder. So certain areas of the face are going to be redder than other areas. If you look around you can see other areas are much more, kind of almost yellow. And then when we get down to underneath here, there's almost a green cast, that I presume that that's the. Light of the blue shirt bouncing and integrating with the yellowish skin, so you get kind of green cast. But there are many, many dozens if not hundreds of subtle color variations that go on his skin.
So I like to have an image like this and I just take this from the photograph I found and just downsized it and put it in here, and I can turn it on and off as needed when I'm colorizing the face. So I can use this as a reference. I can even. Pick colors off of here and use those to paint with. So, being able to have a skin tone reference is really nice to have. And I did that for basically all of the various pieces of puzzles that are in this image. If we go back, for example, I wondered, what does this suit look like.
What color is it? Now I would normally think of a suit as having the same color top, as well as pants. And this in fact is actually called a day coat, which again was popular in the Edwardian period when this was photographed. And if we go back over to the web. I realized that Downton Abbey was an excellent source, for the color of suits for that era. Downton Abbey portrays life in the Edwardian Era. So all of these photographs are excellent resources to tell me what is correct.
And I found that looking at these that no, a day coat and pants were not kept to be the same color. Pants generally were grey, and then either a black or very dark blue was the coloration that these would be. So having a resource like these production stills from a show like Downton Abbey. Was perfect for being able to determine the color of clothing of that era. Now another area I was interested in was the globe in that office so once again I just searched for, you know, 1900 large 30 inch floor globe.
I determined that that globe in the white house office, that Roosevelt is photographed in, was a 30 inch globe just from doing a little bit of searching around and looking at different globes. So now I have a whole bunch of colorations that tell me, you know, here's the kind of colors that the parts of the globe. The oceans, the various land masses and all, how they were colored. Then another one was the leather furniture. And so once again I just said, you know, 1910 leather furniture. And I get all kinds of various sources of color that I can use to find that.
So it turns out that using the Web as a research tool, can provide a wealth of information specific to items found in old photos. I actually enjoy this aspect of colorization. Besides bringing an old photo to life, I get to learn about things I would have otherwise never searched for.
- Importing John's colorization workspace and actions
- Understanding resolution
- Maximizing dynamic range
- Using layers to manage color
- Applying fine-tuned adjustments
- Using the Brush and Pen tools to separate color regions
- Tweaking color with Hue/Saturation
- Using noise to add complexity
- Applying global tonal adjustments and color correction