How to colorize from black and white.
This questions comes from a Photoshop Designer in India.
Good question pravin; First, make sure you
are in the RGB mode so you can add color. Then you'll have to select
areas that you want to colorize using any of the selection tools
(remember you can use "Add to selection" setting in the options bar to
create many little selections or areas of the image to apply the same
You can go to Image: Adjustments:
Hue/Saturation (shortcut Ctrl or Cmd U) and check the colorize box. Now
move the slider towards a desired color. You can also desaturate (lose
color) or saturate (make the color more intense).
There's no easy answer because colorizing is
going to take some time and handiwork and depends on your situation.
You're going to have to get in there and make selections by hand to
bring in different colors (kind of like animation, very painstaking).
Definitely try out some blending modes and
lowering opacity as this might help the color work better with the layer
beneath (when using layers just of color or adjustment layers). I would
use hue adjustments layers (click on the icon or use the menu after you
have made a selection), otherwise if you colorize a layer itself make
sure you have a backup copy of the original layer and create a new layer
just to paint on.
In addition to 'selecting' areas and using
the hue "colorize" function, you can also really make it hard on
yourself and use the paint bucket (to fill areas) or different paint
brushes (this works best for vector graphics).
To make it easier, have a document open with
the similar colors that you might want to reproduce. This way you can
just keep choosing colors by referencing the open color document with
your eyedropper tool (shortcut "I"). Then you can use your paintbrush
to paint in areas.
It is so much easier to colorize vector
graphics with simple shapes/objects (for ie. cartoons) and slightly
harder with photos that have simple, distinctive elements (a big sky and
Now, if you have a "busy" photograph it's
going to get harder to take the time to colorize, but how much effort
you want to put into it is up to you. It's going to take some time.
You can use the magic wand tool to select larger, defined areas to
Each different area you select you would
choose a different colorized "hue" adjustment. I'd recommend a separate
adjustment layer for each color and then put them all in a layer set for
organization, this way you can make corrections easier.
If you want things to look more realistic
when colorizing from grayscale to RGB, colorizing with a hue adjustment
is going to look more realistic then "painting" a solid color onto, say
someone's skin because it will map the color to the texture and
properties of the selection. It depends on your situation but remember
you have blending modes and opacity to help.
Another way to colorize is to make a
selection, create a new layer and then fill that selection with a color
(or gradient) from the palette and change the blending modes. Once
again though, if you need different colors, it's just going to be a long
process. You could also try a gradient or color fill adjustment
layer and change the blending modes but this doesn't give you as much
That should give you some advice in the
right direction but a good colorizing job is usually going to take some
time unless you want the effect of a "colorized" look (then it won't be
that bad for you); in the case where you might want to just colorize a
few elements and leave the rest in black and white.
I always photograph in color now (when I
do use my 35mm Canon) because I can easily use Photoshop to get the
perfect black and white shot off of a color (how's that for you
Photographers!) but to shoot 35mm in black and white and convert to
color--yikes (stock up on No-Doz).
The new replace color tool in Photoshop
CS should work well; just get your source color from an open document or
from the palettes and it will paint in fairly well to match the contrast
and light quality of the black and white image.
- Orion Williams copyright 2004
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