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WOW! THE NEW IMPROVED PHOTOSHOP NEURAL FILTER COLORIZE

Unsplash image by Nairit Prachanda of the Himalayan Free Church.

As many of you know I love to colorize images, especially old ones from my own family collection of photos or those from Shorpy’s – the best around for old pix. Now you can actually colorize images that aren’t old black and white shots and get some pretty remarkable results with this updated filter panel. The best information I could find on the Colorize filter is a short YouTube by Photoshop guru Colin Smith called New Neutral Colorize in Photoshop Can do Much More. One thing I found interesting is that the Colorize Filter and the Select Subject command are both using the same AI Sensei Technology PS uses.

The image above is an image by Nairit Prachanda of a Himalayan Free Church from Unsplash. The original image is very dark as seen in the link. By using the Beta Colorize filter, this image can be made to really pop! This filter can be revisited by making the image a Smart Object before beginning the change. Below is a JPG screenshot of what the Colorize interface looked like when opened (go to Filters -> Neural Filters and select Colorize at bottom – need to move toggle to the right to load the panel) and manipulated. In this image an orange triangle told me that the filter had quit working and appeared towards the end of its use – remember, it is a Beta version so it may not work smoothly all the time. The sliders that are checked were adjusted just slightly – a little bit goes a long way. If you do not want the program to do the original adjustments, check Retain original image colors and adjust the sliders manually. To get the warm color on the right, just click in the image and the color picker opens up – choose a color for that area. It will change everything that color so this may have be adjusted back in PS with a layer mask.

Screenshot of Neural Filter Colorize interface

Also note that Colorize has Profiles presets that can be used to give a certain feel – this one used the Retro Green to bring out the oranges especially. (Profiles presets include: Retro in all cases and the following words: high contrast, blue brown, light yellow, purple yellow, bright, red, green, faded, denim, dark, and brown). In this case, it was overall a little too much, so the Profile intensity was checked and the slider set to 70. Note that the Profile and the Profile slider amount settings were not retained in the Smart Object although all the other settings were.

Back in PS, used both a Shadow and a Highlight layer (see my A Few Photoshop and Lightroom Tips and Tricks blog-Tip #2 from Sam Peterson), which showed some of the background a little more clearly. Then the Camera Raw filter’s Calibration Panel was opened and the Red, Green and Blue Primary sliders were adjusted.

A second Neural Filter was applied to add a little more green to the top of the structure and make the orange look more painterly. The colors were reset by pressing the arrow and line icon in the upper right, then the Retro Green Profile was selected again and the Profile intensity was set to 50 – that was all that was done this time. A black layer mask was created and just those two areas were painted back.

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Colorized image of an old motel from 1939.

The image above is from my favorite vintage site, Shorpy.com – to see the original Black and White version click here. When doing these colorizations, once the image is loaded into Photoshop, be sure to make sure the size is not crazy – like 80 inches X 60 inches at 72 res. What I always do is go to Image -> Image Size and uncheck the Resolution box and change it to 300 ppi, then check the box again and then go up to the size – it should now have adjusted down to something like 8 inches X 5 inches but it can not be changed to a reasonable size. Otherwise you could have problems down the way with the huge size of the image.

This image was taken into the Colorize Filter and not much was done to it – only a little Red and Magenta were added before bringing it back into PS for further processing. (See panel below.) It was definitely too green so a few things were done to get the image above.

Back in PS, a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using the Cerulean preset was added to darken it. Next Sam Peterson’s Shadows and Highlight layers were added to emphasize the shadows and lighten up the foreground shrubs. A Red Channel Luminosity Curve Adjustment Layer was added on top. On a stamped layer (CRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) set to a Smart Object, Color Efex Pro 4 was opened where lots of filters were applied (Tonal Contrast, Brilliance/Warmth, Vignette-Lens, Contrast Color Range, Remove Color Cast, White Neutralizer, Sunlight, and Image Borders) – all of these were set to taste. Finished off with a Levels Adjustment Layer changing the black Output Level amount to 14 to get a little more of a vintage feel in it.

Jean Beraud's Avenue Parisienne from 1880's lightened up with PS Neutral Filter Colorize.

The above 1880 Avenue Parisienne painting (click link to see original) by Jean Beraud was selected for trying out the Neural Filter Colorize because it was rather dark but was a very interesting image. It is also one of my favorite paintings. Below is the panel and basically the only thing done with the Colorize filter was to check the Retain original image colors box and set the Saturation to +50. After that the Camera Raw Filter was used to just slightly adjust the skin tones as the faces were really over colorized but it looked good in other parts of the painting. (Color Mixer – Saturation Reds +8, Orange +21, and Yellows -15 and Luminance Oranges +65 and Yellows -6) This step also lightened some of the buildings in the background which show the Parisian architecture of the time. Since the skin was still too bright, a Vibrance Adjustment Layer set to Vibrance +44 and Saturation -19 was add and the layer mask filled with black (CTRL+I) – then just the skin areas were painted back in. This helped a lot. Last step added a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity to slightly change the tones a little. I really like both iterations and it was fun to try out the filter with a really good painting.

Screenshot of Neural Filter Colorize settings

As you can see, this Colorize filter has a lot of possibilities and I am sure Adobe is working on it as we speak. It is fun just to see what it will do and the creative possibilities are endless. I want to try just bringing a selected area into it to see what it would do in a composite. Hope everyone is having a great summer and gets a chance to play around with this filter and your images…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO CONVERT BLACK AND WHITE IMAGES TO COLORFUL PAINTINGS WITH TOPAZ STUDIO 2

Image of Cowboys at a Roundup in Montana in 1939
As most of you know, I have been working on learning to paint in both Photoshop and Corel for a long time – it is a very challenging process and sometimes I do resort to using my favorite Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) filters to use with my paintings. While playing with Topaz Studio 2 recently, I discovered several filters that could be combined to create very colorful and painterly looking images out of black and white ones. I have blogged several times on how to colorize black and whites (see end of blog for lots of links), but with a few of the Topaz Studio filters, very nice painting effects can be achieved fairly quickly.

All the blog images used a Studio “Look” to get the colored effect. Looks can contain many different filters so different results can be achieved. The really cool thing is that each filter in the Look can be manipulated individually and additional filters can be added to get an effect. And these Looks are saved just like a Filter preset is saved so it can be used over several times. That is what I did with a Look I call my SJ BW to Painted Color. I would post it to their community, but I do not believe they are doing this at the moment. Therefore, I will share the settings below so if you want to create the Topaz Studio basic Look and save it, you are welcome to use it.

The top image is called “Cowhands Singing after Day’s Work” – Quarter Circle U Ranch roundup in June 1939 – thank you Shorpy for finding this gorgeous image! (If you love historical images, you have got to check out Shorpy.) Click the link to see the original black and white image. See Image 1 (Cowboys Image) for all the details on how this image totally post-processed.

IMPORTANT: With old images, the size and resolution needs to be reviewed first – most have resolutions like 3200 pixels/inch since they were probably scanned. Go to Image -> Image Size and set Resolution to 300 ppi – the size can go really crazy like 0.5 X 0.7 inches so uncheck Resample, next look at the sizes and change if needed, then recheck Resample before exiting – the image will downsize and upsize just fine in PS. And always do your Topaz Studio changes on a duplicate layer since it does not support Smart Objects.

Topaz Studio Basic Looks Settings for these Images

Screenshot of Topaz Studio 2 Look
The screenshot shows a different image I am working on (a B&W Shorpy image called Cathedral Place at Charlotte Street, Plaza de la Constitucion, St. Augustine from 1906) where a screenshot of the settings was taken as they appear in Studio. See how there are 8 filters included and two additional filters added on top (Color Theme and Edges again). For the Cowboy image,

This could get long but here we go – wish the Community was available for downloading it. My Look is saved in a Look Category called My Looks and contains only ones I created since Topaz Studio 2 was introduced. I go in and automatically Apply the Look. Right away the image I am working on looks pretty good. At this stage, the Opacity could be adjusted and just use it as it is. I would normally start off adjusting the top AI ReMix filter and then go into Impression before changing the other filters. If the colors or effect still does not look right, another AI ReMix is added (turned on my Look’s since one is toggled on and other one is off in the Look). But since I am giving you my settings, lets start with the bottom filter and build it up.

Filter 1:  All Clear – set to Opacity 0.10, Normal blend mode, Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High, Recover Details 0.10, Exposure 0.31 and Clarity 0.85. Now if the image needs less sharpness or it looks crunchy, you can always adjust these settings or turn it off if not needed. Note that I set the Opacity very low as I felt it most images don’t need much with all the manipulation being done, but it is very easy to change this.

Filter 2: AI ReMix – this is the turned off one. Mine is set to Opacity 0.71, Normal blend mode, Neon Rose Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.31, Contrast 1.26, Sat 0.75, Hue -0.10, Smooth Edge 0.20, Sharpness 0.64, Suppress Artifacts 0. These are probably the settings I was using on a different image a while ago and never reset the filter. But at least it is a starting point for adding some different effects. As you can see, ReMix is where the color is picked up by the image. For my image I will turn it off again as it was not too good on it.

Filter 3: AI ReMix – this is the ReMix filter I use most of the time but change the style. My default is set to Opacity 0.25, Overlay blend mode, Beige Sketch Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.61, Contrast 1.65, Saturation 1.69, Hue 0, Smooth Edge 0.20, Sharpness 0.82, and Suppress Artifacts 0. All these settings are changed depending on the image. The Ballerina image used the Cotton Candy Style and it gave a totally different color and overall effect.

Filter 4: Edges – this filter may or may not be useful – need to turn it on and off to see if it helps or if Dark edges are better than the Light ones. Here are the settings: Opacity 1.00, Screen blend mode, Edge Type Color Edge, Edge Tone Light, Edge Strength 0.51, Simplify Edge 0, Suppress Weak Edges 0.09, Suppress Small Edges 0.02, Edge Thickness 0.16, and Edge Resolution 1.00.

Filter 5: Glow – this filter can make a huge difference in your image so be sure to turn it on and off to see what it is doing. Currently set to Opacity 0.85, Overlay blend mode, Glow Primary, Primary Glow Type Dark, Primary Glow Strength 0.62, Primary Effect Sharpness 0.87, Primary Electrify 0.45, Primary Simplify Details 0.66, Primary Edge Color 0, Primary Detail Strength -1.00, Primary Detail Size 0.05, Primary Brightness 0, Primary Contrast 0, Primary Saturation 0.72, Primary Line Rotation 0, Primary Glow Spread 0.80; Finishing Touches – Effect Coverage 0, Coverage Transition, 0.50, Sharpness 0, and Sharp Radius 0.10.

Filter 6: HSL Color Tuning – Opacity 1.00, Normal blend mode, Color – Red Hue 0.29, Saturation -0.54, and Lightness 0.29; Orange Saturation 0.51, Yellow Sat -0.3, and Blue Hue -0.32; Details 0, Suppress Artifacts 0, and Color Sensitivity 0. These all need to be adjusted depending on how the image is getting colorized.

Filter 7: Impression – I believe this is Topaz default settings except I like Stroke Type 03; I will give the settings anyway as these are the ones I like. Opacity 1.00, Normal blend mode, Brush Type 03, Number of Strokes High, Brush Size 0.50, Paint Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.50, Stroke Rotation 0, Rotation Variation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0, Stroke Length 0, Spill 0, Smudge 0, Coverage 1.00, and Painting Progress 1.00; Color – no changes; Lighting – no changes; and Texture – no changes except Background Type set to Original.

Filter 8: Precision Contrast – I do not always use this one and often I will add Detail filter on top instead. Opacity 0.51; Normal blend mode; Contrast – Micro 0.30, Low 0.54, Medium 0.78, and High -0.54; Lighting – Shadow 0, Midtone 0, Highlight 0, and Equalization 0; and Color – Saturation -0.52, Vibrance 0, and Color Contrast 0.

Now you can add any individual Filters and maybe another Look on top of these settings if you want. You can also add new filters into the Look and save another Look. This is a very flexible process and has so many possibilities.

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Painted image from a famous B&W image by Albert in 1936
The above original black and white image was called “Ballerinas on Window Sill in Rehearsal Room at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet” from 1936 – it was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life Magazine and appears to be a Getty image now. The original image used was very small so it was taken into Topaz Gigapixel to make it larger – 4 X was used (I mention this program as it is fabulous for this type of issue). Then the file was opened in Photoshop. Since it was still a very small image, the resolution was set to 300 and the size increased to roughly 6″ by 8″ (need to uncheck Resample to change the size, then recheck. Then Topaz Studio was opened on a duplicate layer and the “Look” applied. I have gone through all the individual steps in Image 2 below if you are interested. This one took a little more effort than the others – some just are easier to do.

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Black and white image converted to color
This image taken by Jean Eugene Auguste Atget of the “Passage des Singes, seen towards rue Vieille-du-Temple, 4th arrondissement, Paris” in 1911 and was provided by the City of Paris Museum. This is the original image used to create my Looks settings above – it was taken from a Topaz Studio 1 preset and migrated over to Topaz Studio 2. For more info, check Image 3 (Paris image) below. Basically wanted to show what a nice landscape type image can be obtained using these same basic settings.

I hope you will try this – it really amazed me how realistic the painting results were. I do think I get better results in Corel Painter, but it does have a very large learning curve and takes a while to get the brushes down. I am not sure PS has these effects down, although they are making great strides toward getting it. And the interesting thing is that Topaz packed all these creative filters together for you – you cannot get these type results without combining Topaz ReMix, Impression, Glow and mixing in a few others. And don’t forget the to try the Topaz ReStyle filter. I will be working on a few more images to show you but for now, if you own Topaz Studio 2, give it a try. (And actually you might be able to do it with Topaz Studio 1). This is really so much fun to do! Have a great week……Digital Lady Syd

Image 1 (Cowboy Image): After duplicating the background layer in Photoshop, the image was opened in Topaz Studio 2 where my Look was applied. The following changes were done to my Look: AI ReMix: Changed Style to Market Street at 0.23 filter Opacity and Overlay blend mode; Glow: Opacity 0.85, Primary Glow Strength 0.42, and Primary Electrify 0.11; Edges: turned off; Impression: 50% Opacity; and the Additional Filters – Color Theme filter: changed the second color swatch to more of a red color (37400c); and Detail: Overall – Overall Small Detail 0.61. Note that the second AI ReMix was not used as it is turned off but present in my Look since sometimes I need two of them. Back in PS the biggest problem facing the image was the color of the grass in the front – it was blown out. Color was added by setting a layer to Color blend mode and painting with a soft round brush a sampled tan color over all the grass – tried not to go into the face areas. Next one of my favorite Color Lookup Adjustment Layer presets called Foggy Night (a PS preset) was set to 43% layer opacity. This really softened down the overall effect. Then a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast in the midtones (0.78) and clip a little of the black (Output Levels 0/229). Next a Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer (Master: Sat +62 and Lightness +3) was used to add just a bit of color into the skin areas of the cowboys – the layer mask was inverted to black and just areas needed were painted back. Last step was a Color Balance Adjustment Layer (Midtones +17/-12/-55, Highlights 0/-12/-55, and no change to Shadows) for the grass – black layer mask and grass painted back.

Image 2 (Ballerina Image):  Going to go into detail here so you can what can be done to get a really nice painterly effect. After resizing the black and white image, Topaz DeNoise AI was applied on a New Layer. On another New Layer changes were made in Studio to my Look preset: AI ReMix: 0.30 Opacity, Overly blend mode, Cotton Candy Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.61, Contrast 1.65, Saturation 1.69, Hue 0.04, Smooth Edge 0.20, and Sharpness 1.00; Edge: Set Opacity to 0.76; Impression: In layer mask, painted back the 2nd ballerina’s face and part of the closest ballerina’s back – used a brush in layer mask set to 0.69 transparency; Precision Contrast: Opacity 0.10; and added Filter: Texture: Opacity 0.24; Selected Rainbow Leak 4; Brightness 0.06, and Contrast -0.02. Back in PS, Topaz ReStyle was used to adjust the color tone a little. Created a preset called Ballerinas using the colors now in image and placed it in my Colors from Images collection: ReStyle Opacity 68% and Color blend mode, Color Style Sat Primary 0.06, Secondary 0.08, Fourth -0.09, and Fifth 0.22; and Lum Secondary -0.02, Third 0.63, Fourth 0.33 and Fifth 0.31; and Texture 1.00; Basic Color Temp 0.23 and Sat -0.16; Tone Black Level 0.09, Midtones 0.33 and White Level -0.06; and Detail Structure 0.36 and Sharpness 0.30. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using Joel Grimes Soft and Desaturated preset set to 30% opacity. Some clean up layers were used to even out some of the face distortions caused by Studio Impression. A Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was used and set to 57% layer opacity. A Selective Color Adjustment Color was opened and the Whites and Neutrals were used to add a little cyan to the sky outside the window. Viveza 2 was used to sharpen up the paint strokes in the ballet skirts. a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer at 12% layer opacity was added on top to adjust the color – had trouble getting the effect just the way I wanted it. Then a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and 47% layer opacity was added. A Levels Adjustment Layer was the last step and a Gradient Tool was applied to the layer mask going from black to transparency so only the front two ballerinas were affected by these changes – it also emphasized the stroke more on the front ballerinas.

Image 3 (Paris Image): Well this image took a while to complete since I was experimenting and trying to get a nice “Look” together that would be somewhat useful to all types of black and white images. I started with a Look using a Cartoon Look I had created in Topaz Studio 1 that contained the HSL Color Tuning, Glow, Edges, AI ReMix twice and AI Clear filters. (See my Best Friends Tidbits blog for where I used it first.) The settings are slightly different from the above Looks settings so I will list them. HSL Color Tuning: Red – Hue 0.29, Sat -0.54, and Lightness 0.29; Orange – Sat 0.50; Yellow – Sat -32; and Blue – Hue -0.32. Glow: Set to Overlay at 0.85 Opacity; Primary – Glow Type: Dark; Primary Glow Strength 0.62; Primary Effect Sharpness 0.87; Primary Electrify 0.45; Primary Simplify Details 0.66; Primary Detail Strength -1.00; Primary Detail Size 0.05; Primary Contrast 0.29; Primary Saturation 0.72; and Primary Glow Spread 0.80. Edges: Set to Screen blend mode; Edge Type – Color Edge; Edge Tone Light; Edge Strength 0.51; Simplify Edge 0; Suppress Weak Edges 0; Suppress Small Edge 0.02; Edge Thickness 0.02; and Edge Resolution 1.00. First AI ReMix: Set to 0.25 Opacity and Overlay blend mode; used Beige Sketch preset; Style Strength – High; Brightness -0.61; Contrast 1.65; Sat 1.69; Smooth Edge 0.20; and Sharpness 0.82; Second AI ReMix: turned off; AI Clear: Opacity 0.19, Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High; Recover Details 0.10; Exposure 0.31, and Clarity 0.85; and on top of the Look, added Impression filter with my SJ Basic Favorite preset (Stroke: type 03; Number of Strokes – High, Brush Size 0.50; Paint Opacity 0.50; Coverage 1.00 using Original Background Type in Texture section). Next Filter: Precision Contrast – Opacity 0.50; Contrast – Micro 0.30, Low 0.54, Medium 0.78 and High -0.55; and Color Sat -0.50. Back in PS French Kiss Spring Impasto texture was added and set to Linear Light at 45% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the texture and Master-Saturation was set to 100. A Levels Adjustment Layer was clipped on top of it to contrast back to the image (Midpoint set to 0.92 and white tab Output Levels set to 174). (See my How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color blog and short video.) Then a Light Gesso layer style I had purchased from Kyle Webster before he became famous at PS was used to add some extra painterly strokes into the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added last.(See my How to Create an Impasto Texture Layer Style blog and video.)

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Colorize an Old Photo
Giving a Vintage Young Lady a New Appearance
How to Hand Tint a Vintage Image and Create a Brush to Do This
Colorizing NASA Photos and Using Topaz Studio (And Check out Updated Detail)
Get the Boy Something He Wants
Abandoned Texaco Station
A Cowboy in Montana
Contemplating Life
Topaz ReMix – Update and Better Than Ever!


GIVING A VINTAGE YOUNG LADY A NEW APPEARANCE

Vintage Image of Miss E. G. Winship in 1909 from ShorpyStill taking it easy and enjoying just learning a few new techniques and passing them along as I go. This image is from Shorpy.com of Miss E. G. Winship (this links to the original image if you would like to try out the technique yourself) from 1909 who was a 22-year old living in Philadelphia. I have always enjoyed tinting old images so when I found a class on this on Udemy, I decided to check it out. Udemy has many classes and runs specials often where the whole course is offered for $10 or $15 (note – you do not get to download the videos but will always have access to them if purchased). This course was called Photoshop Design: Colorize Historical Photos in Photoshop by Phil Ebiner. Previously I had posted a How to Colorize an Old Photo blog which uses a similar technique as this class – using Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers to add localized color to each of the different components in your image.  This course was pretty basic, but he had one thing that really caught my attention. He showed you how to layer several different fill colors on top of each other to achieve natural looking skin, mainly to the face and a few other skin skin areas. Phil also supplied color charts to use for different skin tones if the one he suggested does not match up correctly. By being able to apply localized color to the face and parts of the skin, it gives a more accurate effect to the overall colorization. This can be very beneficial if trying to hand-tint personal scanned images. With the course information I was able to create a fairly simple Photoshop Action to set up the different colored adjustments layers for a quicker set up.

The image below was completed before the one above. I felt like the one above is the more traditional look and is probably closer to what the dress color was and possibly the skin tone. By just changing out the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers, the dress and hair color could easily be changed out. The skin and background took a little longer. Part of the problem with this image is that it is not of a very high resolution. The initial image had to be adjusted to get a nice size to work on. Some parts of the image are hs lost detail and there is not a lot that can be done. On the top image, some hand painting on the upper left bodice area with a regular brush tool to add more detail and remove some of the really dark shadows. On the one below, this was not taken.

If no info was available on the young lady or where she was from, a story could have been built into the image. That is what I attempted to do. By giving her a green toned dress, red hair, and a different skin tone, I hoped a bit of Irish flare could be given to the image. Also, Anthropics Smart Photo Editor was used to add an interesting border and vignette to the image. I forget I have this plug-in, but it contains lots of great effects including many border and vignette effects, which is one of the reasons I bought it a few years ago.

Vintage image of E. G. Winship from ShorpyAnother one of my blogs on this same subject uses a special brush to paint in the color on New Layers instead of using Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers. Sometimes it is easier to do this on a new layer if a problem comes up with the adjustment layer color or definition of a subject. (See my How to Hand Tint a Vintage Image and Create a Brush To Do This blog.) The brush was used on a couple layers after I had finished colorizing to touch up parts that were not smooth, especially in the arms. Also the Mixer Brush was used to blend in areas where the photo was a little grainy looking on the skin. It seems like you could spend as long as you want to get the image looking really great. If the image is scanned, the resolution of the photo can be set higher and a better quality colorized image will result. If you are interested in trying out this technique, check out both my Colorize blog and this course. It is actually a lot of fun to do! Well I guess that is all for this week. Later!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO COLORIZE AN OLD PHOTO

Colorized Image of my Great-Grandmother Alice Ann GreenNot sure I have blogged on photo restoration much. This week I am going to show you how to colorize old images to give them a nice tinted effect. This image is of my Grandmother Francis Carlton Smith and says it was from 1913.
Original photo of Alice Ann Green from 1913I learned how to do this from photo restoration specialist Suzette Allen when she appeared on Creative Live a while back. This is how she uses Solid Color Adjustments Layers to add color to her images. I might add the skin effect is also from her video but that is another blog as it is a bit tricky. In this case various Solid Color Adjustment Layers were used for her skin, then hair, and finally the dress and background. In all 7 were used. I would suggest you first download Suzette Allen Color Guide Faces photo – a free download from her website – before beginning. Frequently I open up this image in Photoshop to use for sampling skin and lip color. Nik’s Color Efex Pro was used at the end and  Flypaper Textures Nik Color Efex Presets White Buttons was applied. The Frame was added in the Smart Photo Editor plug-in using the white border with gray stroke classic border. The Solid Color Adjustment Layer technique is the same as in the workflow below.

Image of kids on a jungle jim in 1941The cute kid image was downloaded from one of my very favorite websites, Shorpy Historical Photo Archive (this links directly to the original black and white image and there are some pretty interesting comments on the playground itself), and was taken in New York City on July 14, 1941. A few months ago I did a little vintage blog on how to make a nice old photo really look vintage. (See How to Add More Vintage Feel to An Old Photo blog.) (Also check out my Related Blogs below for how Calvin Hollywood uses Solid Color Adjustment Layers.) So here is the basic workflow on how to colorize your old images.

1. First I sharpened the image overall using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3’s Overall Detail Light preset, but you can sharpen anyway you want. Do any major adjustments to the photo before starting the colorization process.

2. Select a Solid Color Adjustment Layer. Fill the layer mask with black by clicking on it and CTRL+I to fill with black.

3. Change the blend mode of the adjustment layer to Color and the layer opacity to 32%. Name it so you can tell quickly where it was used.

4. Suzette suggests starting to colorize with the skin first. Open up her Color Guide Faces in Photoshop. In the image click on the foreground swatch and then click in the guide and click on a skin tone to use in your image.

5. Go back to your image and double click on the Solid Color Adjust Layer color box in the Layer Panel which brings up the Color Picker. By dragging your cursor outside the Color Picker, it turns into an eyedropper to sample the Foreground Color in the swatch at bottom of the Toolbar. Your adjustment layer will now have the the skin tone color from the guide.

6. Click on the black mask and paint with a brush with a white (brush changes from the colors to black and white when painting in a layer mask). Set your brush to white and 12-30% brush opacity in the Property Bar and add a little hardness to the brush so you can get some fairly close edges. You will now see the color being painted on the skin area.

7. When finished with that color, duplicate the layer by CTRL+J. Now rename this layer to indicate the new area you will be working on and fill the layer mask with black again (CTRL+BACKSPACE in the mask). Go back to the Guide and choose another skin tone for the Foreground Color – back in your photo sample the Foreground color and start painting in white on the mask again.

It really is an easy process once you do it a couple of times. I created separate Solid Color Adjustments layers for each skin area, along with hair, dress color, background colors, etc. To keep everything straight, Groups were created (highlight the layers and press CTRL+G to group them) with those titles since there were 10 or 11 Solid Color Adjustments Layers in each group.

The nice thing about this technique is that it is easy to go back and change a color if it does not look right. By double clicking on the color swatch of the adjustment layer, you open the color picker where several different colors can be selected – a live update will show in your image as you hover over each color. This is a really easy way to add believable color to an image.

The rest of the image effect was created using a New Layer and doing some skin smoothing by sampling nearby colors to smooth some of the splotchiness, and by applying Nik Color Efex Pro’s Glamour Glow, Film Efex-Faded, Image Borders, and Brilliance/Warmth to get the final result. This image actually took quite a while to complete, but the localized colors in both the clothes and skin tones did create a nice result from a rather dull and cluttered black and white image.

Not all images work well for this type of technique – you just have to experiment to see how it looks. It can be a bit tedious to really get a good result, but overall it can really make your vintage images pop. It is fun to try and figure out what your long lost relative may have looked liked in color. Give this technique a try – works great on any type of image. I find I am really enjoying trying this out on my old photos. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Use A Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Smart Photo Editor Photoshop Plug-In

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