Monday, June 14, 2010
Colorizing Black-And-White Photos—06/14/10
Using Photoshop to create a classic hand-painted effect
- The details are relatively easy, since they involve the same general selection and filling process as the previous steps—just on a smaller, more precise scale. This could include the whites in a subject’s eyes, or the color in their irises, perhaps a solitary bright flower in a larger landscape. It’s the “everything else” in question that can be a little trickier, since it’s the general tone you’d like to establish in the background of a scene.
- In some instances the background tone can be anything you’d like, even if it’s not accurate to the original—a warm brown for a portrait background, perhaps, or maybe a broad swath of green for the land in a landscape. I usually like to put this layer below the other colorized layers since it’s forming what is essentially the background. Create a new blank layer between the original image and the first layer of color. Without making a selection, fill the entire layer with the appropriate background color and set it to overlay as well. The entire image is now colorized, but this new whole-layer color is affecting the other detail colors you’ve painted throughout. So to remove the background where you’ve already painted details, right-click on each subsequently colorized layer’s palette icon to create active selections corresponding to each of the other colors in the scene.
- Once each area of the image has been selectively colorized, you can flatten the file to merge all the colors into one layer with the picture detail. Alternatively, merge the colorized layers into one and, if you’re concerned about hard edges and uneven transitions between colors, apply a subtle blur to soften the colors where they blend. Go too far and you’ll risk colorizing outside of the lines resulting in a funky effect. But maybe that’s the look you’re after. Since you’re choosing the colors, you can make them as outrageous or as natural as you wish.
- If you’d like to modify any of the colors, the beauty of this approach is that each color is contained on a separate layer so you can easily go back and make changes easily. If you’re happy with the colors you’ve selected, your photo is now colorized—and it probably looks a lot like a hand painted picture of a century ago.
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