Add color to photos in photoshop

Adding color to black and white archival photos is a great way to bring the past back to life. There are many terrible “lessons” on the Internet that make terrible results. Therefore, we asked the photographer Tigz Rice to develop a technique for coloring old photos using Photoshop and obtaining attractive, captivating, realistic results.

The goal of the lesson is not to make the old photo look like it was made yesterday, but to preserve its vintage style using color. Thus, it will become visually more attractive and more catchy when used for printing or online.

You can also use the lesson technique to make an already colorized photo look like an old painted picture, first converting it into black and white (to do this, go to the menu Image> Correction> Discolor (Image> Adjustments> Black White)). In today’s lesson, Tigz did something similar. She began with a black and white photograph of the Felicity Furore model, which was recently shot. However, the lesson technique works independently whether the photo was taken in 1916, 1966 or 2016.


Step 1

Open the selected black and white photo in Photoshop and clean it if necessary.

When working with a scanned image, folds or folds are usually noticeable. They can be removed with Healing Brush (Healing Brush) or Stamp (Clone Brush).

Step 2

To make it easier to add color to an image, you need to convert it to CMYK color space. While RGB channels transmit light and brightness, CMYK transmits pigment and how much of a certain color is applied. If you keep this in mind and know some basics of color theory, it will become much easier to determine the correct color. CMYK mode also allows you to tint a photo without much effect on its overall brightness.

Go to menu Image> Mode> CMYK (Image> Mode> CMYK Color).

Step 3

To begin, let’s add some skin color. Create corrections for the entire image, and then limit its effect to only skin areas.

On the panel Corrections (Adjustments panel) click on the icon Curves (Create Curves). Name the new layer “Leather”.

Step 4

Still with the skin layer selected, click on the half-filled circle next to the layer mask to make the curves window active.

On the panel Properties (Properties panel) click on the dropdown list CMYK and select Blue (Cyan).

Step 5

Click on the middle of the line going from the bottom left corner to the top right. You will get a new correction point. Drag it down about two cells, creating a curve like the one below.

Parameter Input (Input) under the curve curve should be set to thirty, Conclusion (Output) – about 50.

Step 6

Click the drop-down menu again and select Yellow (Yellow). This time create a correction point with Typing (Input) near 50 and The conclusion (Output) approximately 52-53.

Step 7

Once again click on the dropdown menu, select Purple (Magenta). Create a point again with Typing (Input) near 50 and The conclusion (Output) approximately 51-52.

Step 8

At this stage, you should have a good starting point for all skin tones. Depending on the image and personal taste, you may need to go back and make small adjustments in each of the three curves.

Step 9

Click on the mask attached to the “Skin” layer. Use Brush (Brush) black. Carefully paint over areas that are not skin.

Tip: Depending on the image and the amount of contrast between the areas of the photo, you can try using some selection tools.

Step 10

After you are satisfied with the skin tone, repeat steps 3-8 for each additional color you want to add to the photo.

If you want the new tones to blend well with each other, try to keep the combination of the curves within the same chart parameters. For example, if all curves have a marker Conclusion (Output) within 30-60, any tones that go beyond these limits will seem more saturated by comparison.

Step 11

Don’t forget to also work on the black and white areas of the photo. Here the author created a separate curve of white shades for eyes and bed linen, dropping a little channel curve. The black (Black). Thus, the necessary areas received additional brightness.

Step 12

You can also add a subtle tint to the channel. Blue (Cyan) with parameters Input (Input) near 50 and Conclusion (Output) 48.

All is ready. But before you finish, I offer you some tips on coloring black and white photographs.

Step 13

If you omit the curve Purple (Magenta) tones, you get a green base color that you can work with. When reducing the channel Blue (Cyan) you get an orange / brown base, and if you reduce the amount Yellow (Yellow), will come out deep blue / indigo.

Step 14

If you have problems with the selection of suitable color tones, why not use the built-in extension Adobe Color Theme, which will prompt the appropriate colors. The extension can be found in the menu. Window > Extensions > Adobe Color Theme (Window> Extensions> Adobe Color Themes). More about him told in the lesson on color theory.

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