Anything Photoshop or Photography


Colorized image of an old home in Kearney Nebraska 1940

This week I decided to colorize more vintage images using Photoshop’s Neural Filters as I have realized most vintage images need a bit of grain added after colorizing them. This is a very subtle change but it does seem to make a difference. There are so many ways to do this, and I tried several different methods out on these images before creating this blog (i.e, created a film grain layer or downloaded one from the internet to use as a grain overlay and possibly using the Overlay blend mode; applied filters from Topaz Studio, Color Efex Pro, Luminar and others grain settings; or downloaded grain brushes and painted onto a new layer only where the grain should appear). My older blog still seems to have the best method of doing this. It is a workflow by Katrin Eismann. Also, I had created a very simple action for it that still works great.

The image above is of a home in Kearney, Nebraska from 1940 and (click link to see original image – scroll down through the comments to see how different the house now looks!) had it on their site. They have some of the best vintage B&W photos from all over the US that are just perfect for PS’s Neural Filters, especially the Colorize Filter.

NOTE: Wanted to remind everyone when colorizing a downloaded historic photo, especially from this site, the first thing to do is to check its size by going to Image -> Image Size. If it is too large, change the resolution (if needed) to 240 so the image becomes manageable, like somewhere around 10″ X 7″ is what I like – otherwise it is way too large to process. For the other post-processing steps used on the Old House image, check Image 1 info at bottom of blog. The last step involved adding grain using the workflow below:

Film Grain Effect Workflow and Action Steps

This workflow was a tip in an older KelbyOne class by Katrin Eismann (another brilliant PS guru) called Color to Black and White Artistry, but the basic grain technique is still quite current. In this blog’s case, it has been used on colorized Black and White images. Using this method gives a really natural subtle result to the image and adds the effect in the areas you want it, mainly the Blue and Green channels, and leaves the Red Channel alone where the subject usually resides. The film grain is added so that the Blue Channel gets the greatest amount of grain, Green channel less, and Red Channel the lowest amount.

1.Create a stamped layer (CTRL_ALT+SHIFT+E) where the grain will be added.

2. Open the Channels Panel. Note that on the sub-steps below, all Channels used the Add Noise Filter radial button with Gaussian and Monochromatic selected.

  • Highlight Red Channel (no need to duplicate the channels) and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 4%
  • Highlight Green Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 6%
  • Highlight Blue Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 8%

3. Next Highlight each channel again and go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set Radius Amount to 0.3%

4. In the Layers Panel, change the blend mode to Luminosity so any color noise is reduced.

5. Will probably need to adjust the layer opacity as the effect may be is too much. Or a layer mask could be added and the grain added/removed in just local parts of the image.

For the Old House image, the layer opacity was set to 56% which seemed to be just enough to give a nice vintage feel to the whole image. It also made the replacement sky match the house very nicely.

This technique/action works very well on regular black and white images and I am sure it would look good on any regular image that needed a little grain added. Below is a screenshot of my action panel showing the steps so you can reproduce them if you wish:

Image of the steps for the SJ B&W Grain by Channel action


Image of old filling station from 1941 (click link for original B&W image and great comments again) posted this image a few days ago. I remember seeing one of these little Conoco Stations in Annapolis, Maryland, a long time ago (not sure I ever saw another one). Biggest issue here is that the replacement sky needed some grain to match the image original image grain. By creating a stamped layer on top of the Sky Replacement Group (making sure any layers above it are turned off-by clicking off the eyeballs on the layers above), the grain steps were applied. Then the Sky layer mask in the Sky Replacement Group was copied so only the sky had the grain applied (set layer to 89% opacity). See Image 2 info at end of blog for other post processing steps.


Vintage colorized image of a portrait from

The image above is another one (click link to see original) and was taken by Fritz W. Guerin in 1902. I wanted only a very subtle colorization (and not a lot of film grain, but enough to match the model to the background. Wanted to mention Skylum’s new Neo Filter was opened – the Relight section (which IMHO makes it worth buying) and Film Grain section were applied just to the background by masking out the model in the filter. See Portrait Image 3 below for the Neural Filters used and other steps. The last step was adding the overall grain to a stamped layer and setting it to 43% layer opacity. Two other methods were tried (one using a created film grain layer and another where the grain was actually painted on using a downloaded grain brush), but the above workflow gave the best results.

This grain gives a really nice effect on vintage images, but don’t overdo it or it will not look good. Have a great week!….Digital Lady Syd


  1. Old House Image: After resizing the image, the Neural Colorize Filter was added. It really does not matter what order most of the steps are done, just important to do them. Did a Filter -> Neural Filter -> Colorize and used the default settings. Next a PS Edit -> Sky Replacement using a blue sky from their set was done. Did some sharpening using Topaz Sharpen AI, but any sharpening would have been fine for this. On the above, the house lines were not perpendicular, so the Liquify Filter was used to push it all together. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a Cerulean preset was added at 26% layer opacity along with a Levels Adjustment Layer. Viveza 2 was added. This post processing was definitely just a try this and try that until you get a look you like. The last effect was adding the Film Grain using the Workflow above – it was applied to the whole layer and the opacity was reduced to 56%.
  2. The Filling Station Image: After sizing the image, the image was sharpened. Problem areas were cleaned up – this one had power lines and the kid scratching his face. Created a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) set as a Smart Object, and chose Filters -> Neural Filters -> Colorize. The Adjustments sliders were changed to desaturate it a little to get the overall very sunny effect. (This filter just keeps getting better!) On another stamped layer, the image was taken into Lucis Pro 6 (it appears it is still not available – I keep watching for everyone) to sharpen it just a little more. Then a PS blue sky Replacement Sky was added to add some beautiful clouds. Biggest issue here is that the sky – see blog on image to see how this was handled. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added at 73% opacity using a Cerulean preset. A Photo Filter using Warming Filter (85) with a Density of 56% was added next – it really warmed up the image to make the image look very sunny. A new layer set to Overlay blend mode was created and white color on a brush at a low Flow was used to paint over the gentleman’s shirt, the little boy, and a little on the gas pumps themselves for the focal points. The brush used was just a soft round brush set to 100% Opacity, 9% Flow, and the Airbrush turned on in the Options Bar. The last step added just a slight vignette set to 17% layer opacity.
  3. Portrait Image: Not a lot of steps although I tried a lot of things with this image. After adding Neo, back in PS the Colorize Neural Filter at the default setting was applied (it gave the nice soft colors – I tried the more colorful look but the shadows were too heavy on the face and chin with this filter) and the Smart Portrait Neural Filter – just used the Expression-Surprise set to +16 and Global Light direction set to -14 (gave her a more serious look). Had some clean up layers, and created a stamped layer on top. To get the nice skin tone, a turquoise Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was set to Color Burn blend mode at 29% layer opacity and a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a free Sparkle Stock’s Choi Hung Estate 01 preset set to 60% layer opacity was added.

One response

  1. I like the effect of a bit of grain in colorized images – it suits the vintage look. That’s a great tip about adding different amounts of noise in the different channels. Bookmarked – thanks! 🙂

    03/11/2022 at 1:28 pm

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