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Posts tagged “Colorizing


Vintage Image of the Yellowstone River cc 1899

This week I am trying out a different method of colorization – this was really simple and I have to thank that wonderful guru Unmesh Dinka at PixImperfect for introducing me to this technique. I have always been a big fan of old vintage images, especially those that Shorpy posts and very old family shots. (See below for some other blog links on how to colorize using other methods.) The pictures are only black and white or sepia images.

Recently Unmesh had a short video called Free Tool to Auto Colorize Black & White Photos where a free program called Image Colorizer was used to create color images. If you watch the video, it shows the program taking a long time to process – it appears they have updated the program and it works much faster. To get this started, here are a couple things you need to know:

  • The file must be less than 4 MB, less than 3000 px X 3000 px, and be in jpg, jpeg, or png format. So you may have to go in and reduce the size of your image before using this program. I found my images needed to be less than 3 MB to get it to work correctly – it still produced a pretty low res image no matter what the original size was.
  • This does not create a perfect colorized image – but it does a really good job for a starting point so do not be disappointed if your image has color splotches on it – this can be fixed in Photoshop.
  • The final image will be created by stacking the colorized image set to Color blend mode on top of the black and white image in PS.

Once you have the image set up to us in the software, go to the website – click on this link here. You just drag and drop your image into the square and watch the progress icon – it takes a few moments depending on the original size you put into the program. Then just download the image and open it up in Photoshop or Lightroom to post-process it. (There is also an app available for Apple and Android phones.)

Original vintage 1899 image of the Yellowstone River

The above photo was from a list of old 1800’s vintage images at a site I cannot now find. The image was 1200 px by 927 px so it fit the criteria just fine. I want to go over a couple of tricks that I found especially handy when using this program. Once the Image Colorizer has been run, place the image over the original black and white background image and set it to Color blend mode. Below is what the image looked like out of the Image Colorizer – it was not too bad but there are some color distortions along the sides of the road and in the water. It does not look that bad overall – just if you zoom in you can see the issues. I found it amazing that just adding this amount of color can create such a colorful final image after PS editing.

Screenshot of Image Colorizer result

Basic Workflow:

1. Run Image Colorizer and download the image.

2. In PS open the original black and white image.

3. Need to check the Image Size (Image -> Image Size) turn off the Resample button and set it to 300 dpi, then recheck the Resample box, and change the size amounts for the final image.

4. Place the Colorizer image on top and set to Color blend mode. Since the colorizer often introduces some color that is not too flattering in places, need to remove it where you do not want it. Two ways to remove color here:

The color in the above was removed by adding a New Layer on top and setting it to Saturation Blend Mode. Then used the Spotlight Brush (here is what I use – select a soft round brush set to 100 pixels and a Flow of 9% and turn on the “Enable airbrush-style buildup effects” icon). Select black (or any neutral color or else it will really saturate the color) and paint on layer where you want the color removed – build up the effect to remove more. This tip was from the great PS guru John Paul Caponigro – still has a DVD that includes this along with many other great tips.

A Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer could have been used also by setting the Sat to -100, inverting the mask to black and painting with white in the mask where color should be removed.

5. One way to remove the lines that do not look good is to go to Filter -> Blur -> Surface Blur and set the Radius to around 30 and the Threshold at 60, or less, – just experiment to see which looks the best. This was not used on this image. Also a good Smudge Brush can be used to even out color striations – there were lot of really funny lines in just the water area of this image. So a Smudge Brush was created from watching some YouTube videos by RArdell for painting watercolor in PS. Used a Smudge Brush set to soft round brush at 16 pixels and in the Options Bar set a Strength of 81% and Sample All Layers checked. Really simple but it creates some nice smooth lines for the water area to remove the subtle color lines. Increase the size if it is too small.

6. To add color in where the software missed it, just add a New Layer on top, set it to Color blend mode – then sample the color needed and paint.

To finalize this image, Luminar 4 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) and Viveza were used on stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layers. Also two Color Lookup Adjustment Layers were added – one using Foggy Night at 23% opacity and another using a Heat Waver LUT from On1 at 87% opacity to really warm it up. Then some spotlight effect layers were used to add in that additional dodge and burning effect to really add the depth to the image. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog. Used White, Black, Yellow and Blue layers to paint in the colors where needed. Also on a separate layer, texture was added to give the water more of a flowing look using Grut NM Tack Ranker brush. The real trick was to add in a blue sky so a Gradient set to yellow and the Difference blend mode was added – just dragged down from the top and used a mask to remove from the sides but left a little light in the distance.

I attempted using Image Colorizer on a black and white low res image of some children, and found using a Frequency Separation method for the skin worked the best. Unfortunately it was taking a long time to get the results that looked good, so it is definitely a work-in-progress. This technique works great as a starting point, but PS filters need to be added to get the great color needed. On the other hand, this is a free program and it does look pretty good considering. Hope everyone has a chance to try it out – enjoy the hot summer days we are having!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Colorize an Old Photo
How to Convert Black and White Images to Colorful Painting with Topaz Studio 2
Giving a Vintage Young Lady a New Appearance
How to Hand Tint a Vintage Image and Create a Brush to Do This
Contemplating Life


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 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