Behold: The Best Photo Colorizing Tutorial!

Honestly, if you can find in whole internet a better photo colorization tutorial – you may kick my ass. Not like mine is going to be so impressively brilliant, but there’s no decent lesson I could find. There are some colorization software you can find and it does the job so well, I would rather leave it black and white.

Surfing through internet, these were the best :

I’m sure there are lots of people, who can do this very well and those people are artists, who create wonderful drawn images and not into photomanipulation, as a rule. So basically, the best knowledge you could take is from learning how to draw.

Untill now, of course :-)

The Tutorial

1. Ask your grandma for a hot picture in her twenties

2. In Colour mode quickly apply the base tone for the skin. While picking colors keep in mind, that in Color mode brightness of your tone is irrelevant on your picture (it can alternate opacity only), what simplifies the task. Think about Hue and Saturation.

3. As you can see, I chose quite dull color for the beginning. The reason is that some areas will still remain low saturated and easier for me to work in such progression, when I apply all of the brightest colours at the end.
Main colors I will be applying on skin:

4. Here goes the part that is brutally missing in other tutorials.
Turn your brush opacity low and hardness down to zero.
We know, that human skin tone has many shades, but where should we place each? Rosy on cheeks? Not many people has natural blush, especially those, who have ivory skin tone. It usually shows up after we exercised or have been exposed to cold/warm temperature. So if we have an intent to make natural-looking face with feel of no make-up, we will leave them without a rosy touch-up. They could be just a little chosen skin color saturated.

In contrast, women say ‘I need to powder my nose’ while they go powdering the whole face instead. The meaning is, nose needs a special attention, it often can have excess of redness and needs to be powdered the most. The lesson is, noses are rosy, cheeks are blue.
It’s not a sin, if you put a little rosiness below eye too.
To clarify, which color is considered to be rosy – it depends on your main skin color, in contrast. The range is from warm red (with less orange) to warm purple.
We figured with tones.

For some reason skin and most of the materials in nature are more saturated at dark areas and less at light. Untill I realized that, my drawings were pretty shitty. We apply saturated color on light areas when we want something to glow (lamps).
So, apply more bright and saturated colors on shades (nose bridge, near nostrils, left side on face, both sides on neck, etc.)

5.  Now look at your arm. If you look carefully, you should notice your finger tips are rosier and a brighter color, then the rest of the skin (wow, they almost glow!) Apply that to your image.
I chose to make eyes gray-blue. I observed, for some reason most of the people make an unnatural bright green color while colorizing.
Here I added some purple and yellow to the background. Warm neck color reflects on almost unsaturated purplish wall. As well as purple wall add its tone to a white blouse.
Some more detail correction and we may say we are done.

6. Or we may not.
On layer panel Create a new adjustment layer > Gradient. Apply your two colors click okay.

7. Change new layer to soft light mode. Click on your gradient icon and now you can readjust colors for your like. You may find your new layer is alternating your existent colors you worked on so hard, but it’s okay: it still keeps the proportion of colours and you also can clear some gradient areas with an eraser tool on a low opacity.

8.Vouala. Now you know main color principles, I hope you can do better!


9 thoughts on “Behold: The Best Photo Colorizing Tutorial!

  1. You’ve shown some good knowledge but final result look like in “green cast”. You should try different colors for wall, rainy window, cat and hat :).

  2. Do you do any work for hire? I am no good at editing, but I have a black and white pic of my Great Grandpa and family I’d live to have in color for my Mother….

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