We color the old photo in Photoshop

?One of the most familiar themes for turning sepia into color is the “Wizard of Oz”.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to color a photo in sepia to get a color image.

Coloring sepia or black and white photography may seem like a real challenge, it may take time and patience, although it may be much easier than you think. Today I will show you the process of coloring a photo in Adobe Photoshop.

The final result:

Starting materials

The image that I am going to use in this lesson is shown in the screenshot below:

Note: Photo taken at http://www.loc.gov/

In my opinion, it is much easier to work with a black and white photo than with a sepia, so the first thing I did was convert the photo. This is just my personal preference, and you don’t have to do it, if you want and you like to work with sepia, then work with sepia.

1. Select the desired mode for the image.

Once you have uploaded the photo, you need to make sure that the image mode is set to RGB not on mode Grayscale (Grayscale), even if your image is monochrome or black and white. To check the mode, for this we go Image – Mode (Image> Mode), now look so that there is a tick opposite the RGB mode.

2. Start painting large image fragments.

Step 1

Using tool Fast selection ( Quick Select tool), select the sky or any other large part of the image that is represented by one color shade.

Using tool Fast selection (Quick Select tool), select the image fragment that is represented by one color shade, for example, the sky.

Step 2

Press the button Refine edge (Refine Edge).

Use the tool Refine edge (Refine Edge) to improve the borders of the selected area.

Step 3

In the tool settings window that appears Refine edge (Refine Edge), put a tick in the box Smart radius (Smart Radius). I changed the radius value to 5 px, but you can set a different radius value that best fits your image. I also increased the value Smooth out (Smoth) up to 3 pixels to soften hard edges. You can also apply other settings of this tool to improve the borders of the selected area. When you are ready, press the ‘OK ’button.

Pick the right value for Smart radius (Smart Radius), as well as for the option Smooth out (Smooth).

Step 4

So, we have created an active selection, now click Add a new adjustment layer (Add New Adjustment Layer) at the bottom of the layers palette and in the window that appears select the option Colour (Solid Color).

Add adjustment layer Colour (Solid Color) through the bottom of the layers palette.

Step 5

Choose the color shade that you think is more suited to the sky in your image. Now it does not matter whether you choose too bright a color tone or not, we will fix it in a minute. As soon as you have chosen the color tint, press the ‘OK’ button and you will see the selection on the adjustment layer mask.

Choose the appropriate color cast.

Step 6

Change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay), and the selected color will look much better. If you are not satisfied with the selected color, then simply double-click on the blue rectangle next to the mask so that a window appears. Color palettes (Color Picker), choose the color shade that best suits you.

Change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay).

Step 7

If you are satisfied with the result, you can restore the missing parts of the image or correct them with a soft black / white brush, which you can apply on the mask of the adjustment layer.

Correct the defects left after the selection.

3. Select fragments with similar color shades.

Step 1

Repeat the selection technique, which is described in detail in the previous steps, this time highlight the carrot and watermelon greens. Cucumber do not allocate yet, so that not all elements have the same shade of green. This time I changed the value Smooth out (Smooth) up to 2 px when refining edges, but again, use those values ​​that best suit you.

Apply the tool Refine edge (Refine Edge) to green carrots.

Step 2

Without removing the active selection, add a new adjustment layer. Colour (Solid Color), just as you did before, choose a shade of green. For now, save the degree Opacity (Opacity) for each adjustment layer at 100%. This can be corrected later when we finish the painting work.

Add a new adjustment layer Colour (Solid Color), choose a shade of green.

Step 3

Change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay), and then select the appropriate color shade. Do the same for the cucumber, but only use a different shade of green. As soon as you finish coloring the vegetables, then we will proceed to coloring the skin.

Change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay).

Result at the moment lesson.

4. Skin and eye tone

Step 1

Paint a man and a woman separately, because they don’t seem to have the same skin tone. The man may have a slightly more weathered skin!

Highlight areas of skin using the selection technique you used previously, and also apply edge refinement. Next, when you press the ‘OK’ button, press the ‘Q’ key to enter the Quick masks (Quick Mask), and then with a brush, paint over the eyes of the man, as well as other areas of the image of the man to which you do not want to add skin tone. Press the ‘Q’ key again, and you will see that the areas that have been colored red are not included in the created selection.

Via Quick masks (Quick Mask), select any small areas that you do not want to include in the created active selection.

Step 2

When choosing a skin tone, try using several color shades to see which color shade is most suitable, but do not forget that due to the blend mode Overlap (Overlay), color shades will not look truly ‘true’. Therefore, use a very muted pink / brown shade instead of a peach color, otherwise, you will get an orange glow skin!

Choose pale pink or light brown shades instead of peach.

Step 3

Add new adjustment layer for coloring eyes. Colour (Solid Color) without first creating any active selection, choose a color cast. Click on the mask of the adjustment layer, and then press the keys (Ctrl + I) to invert the mask. Now using a white brush, paint the eyes on the mask. If you do not see the man’s eye behind the glasses, reduce the value Opacity (Opacity) adjustment layer up to 40%, thus adding just a slight shade of color.

If you are painting a photo where you can see the eyes, then remember that you only need to paint the pupils of the eyes.

Add adjustment layer Colour (Solid Color) without first creating active selection

We have completed the addition of skin tones.

5. Lips and hair

Step 1

When you finish coloring the skin and eyes, we can add a little light and shade, painting the lips with a slightly different shade. Choose a red / brown color, and use a low opacity brush to add some color.

When coloring the lips, use a slightly different color tone, different from the skin tone.

Step 2

When dyeing hair, try to pay attention to the color tone of the hair in the photo to find a more suitable color shade, even if it is a sepia or black and white photo. For a man’s hair, I used a dark shade, reducing opacity (Opacity) layer up to 90%, to slightly soften the tone of the hair, because it is obvious that the man is already elderly. As for the woman, it does not seem that she has dyed hair, so I used a dark gray color.

Choose natural hair color and do not forget about age when choosing a hair shade.

6. Final touches

Finally, color the clothes. As soon as you finish coloring the image, play with the opacity of the layers with coloring to make the image look more natural.

Remember one rule: better is less and better, and if you are going to recreate an “authentic” look, you are more pragmatic in choosing color shades, taking into account the colors you were wearing at the time, and also use low saturation to make the image look ‘old’ Photo. If you want to show eccentricity in the choice of color, then forget what I have just told you – just take it and do it!

We painted the image, but the colors look too harsh.

Congratulations! We have completed the lesson!

When choosing old photos that you are going to color, do not forget that the more details are present in the photo, the more time and the more difficult it will be to paint the photo. Try first to choose photos with large fragments of the presence of the same color, and then go to more complex photos, because it will be easier for you to use this technique. This is a truly fascinating process, so I wish you a good time for coloring your photos.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

The final result:

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