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Trying to improve as a colorist

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  #1  
Old 01-27-2005, 02:10 PM
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MBChamberlain MBChamberlain is offline
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Trying to improve as a colorist

For the last few months I have been trying to improve my skills as a colorist, I have played around with a lot of methods and have found several I like.

This is an old portrait of our college president's wife I had to colorize for work. This one was done using multiple masked gradient maps for the most part. Critiques, suggestions would be much appreciated.

Michael
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File Type: jpg firstlady.jpg (86.3 KB, 103 views)

Last edited by MBChamberlain; 01-27-2005 at 03:53 PM. Reason: Changed color mode for more accurate display (original was timed for darkroom processing)
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  #2  
Old 01-27-2005, 02:39 PM
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Axleuk Axleuk is offline
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The first two things i noticed about your work, was the clashing colours of the background and her lipstick, perhaps changing the hue of the lipstick a little so it is not so 'flouresent' and darkening the edges of the background, just to give it a bit more character.

The highlights in her hair still have grey from the original image, so see if you can give them a more consistant colour with the use of the 'colour burn' tool.

The skin tone looks a little light on my monitor, try increase the contrast of the shadwos a little bit and give her face a little bit more body.

Pay close attention to the hair line and the depth of the shadows cast under the hair curls, i beleive there is still a little bit of grey in there.

When you have finished with the colorisation, you may benefit from using the Hipass filter to help sharpen the image, maybe not the whole image, but certainly the eyes.

Hope this helps
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  #3  
Old 01-27-2005, 03:22 PM
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ajcutler ajcutler is offline
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I think you are one the right track. As far as the skin color goes, I think you need to back off the yellow a bit in favor of more red.

There are two other problems I see with this photo, one is that it looks washed out, and the other is that her face lacks depth.

I did a few simple things to give what I would consider a little more life to the photo:

1. Opened up the tonal range with a levels layer
2. Created a new merged visible layer and set it with a "screen" blending mode at 50%. Masked everything out, and with a soft white brush and low opacity, painted hightlights one her nose, cheeks and forehead.
3. Reduced the yellow tint on her face by adding a color balance layer with yellow shifted +15 to blue.
4. Used an unsharp mask with an amount of 30 and radius of 1, to liven it up a little.


Alan
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File Type: jpg firstlady_r.jpg (99.1 KB, 69 views)
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  #4  
Old 01-27-2005, 10:34 PM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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Is my monitor off, or has your posted image changed?
Commenting on the one shown...
I think you've got a good start in your attention to detail, however, there are a few things that might improve the image:
There is not enough color variation within areas. For instance, her hair should not be one color, but rather a subtle blend of similar colors. This applies to almost every item in the image as well. Nothing is ever one single color. For me, that is the biggest tell-tale sign of colorization.

Most people's skin is not the same color throughout the body.

The background is a bit to vivid and somewhat unrealistic. Most portrait studios would probably have chosen something softer and subdued.

Although you would think teeth are white, they really aren't and have a tendancy to look gray unless they are given some color.

Lastly, it appears that some kind of tonal adjustment was made. Her hair appears much darker that the original image.
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Old 01-27-2005, 11:04 PM
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MBChamberlain MBChamberlain is offline
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Vikki, yes my image has changed (note the reason for editing my post). I originaly posted one that was save from a tweaked color space for printing to a laser exposer to be developed in a darkroom. Looks fine on the screen but loses a lot of the color definition when you convert it to a jpeg. Switched to RGB and resaved and it looks like it does now.

About adding more color, I already am using several shades of brown in my gradient map, should I spread them further appart or should I do something else? How exactly do you suggest adding more variety in the color?

Michael
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  #6  
Old 01-28-2005, 12:50 AM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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I really have no experience using a gradient map to color, but my my guess is that your gradient is too wide and perhaps limited in colors. Also, how would you color curves? Do you have experience using other methods to color, as a gradient seems as though it would limit your choices. For myself, a method that most resembles actual hand coloring or painting, would give better results.
This was done with 4 layers, each having a layer mask. It looks a bit washed out here, which is puzzling me, but hopefully you can see what I mean. No real color changes that jump out at you, but they're in there.
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  #7  
Old 01-28-2005, 09:42 AM
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MBChamberlain MBChamberlain is offline
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I see what you mean, that was actually what I was trying to accomplish with the gradient maps. When I hand paint I essentially change the color based on the darkness of the area. I updated them and made them more narrow. I think it works a little better, what do you think?
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File Type: jpg firstlady2.jpg (97.2 KB, 50 views)

Last edited by MBChamberlain; 01-28-2005 at 09:42 AM. Reason: add picture
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  #8  
Old 01-28-2005, 11:24 AM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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It does look better, but I think it's because the skin tone looks better. I still can't see much variation in the hair. Actually, it seems as if there is a sepia/magenta undertone across the image making the hair look reddish (which you may have wanted?) Of course, I'm only voicing my opinion about what I like, and I know we all see things differently, but the image has a muddied (is that a word?) appearance, and I'm thinking it's because of the method.

You mentioned earlier that you've played around with different techniques for coloring. I'm really curious why you favor this method. If you wouldn't mind the discussion.
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  #9  
Old 01-28-2005, 12:05 PM
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MBChamberlain MBChamberlain is offline
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I see what you mean about the color cast, but that is easily fixed. I should probably specify that I'm not going for that "This is a Color Photo" look, I'm going for a hand painted print look. I like the gradient map method particularily because it gives some color variation quickly and easily but it maintains that painted look to some extent. (Part of my job is keeping track of the photo archives of the college I work for, in the files there are hundreds of these hand painted prints and I love that disappearing style of coloring.)

I've also added a second gradient layer to the hair and painted it in (the woman's hair color is actualy a redish brown). Incidently the other nice thing about gradient maps is I can color an image in around 20 minutes rather than an hour or two.

Michael
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File Type: jpg firstlady3.jpg (48.0 KB, 47 views)
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  #10  
Old 01-28-2005, 12:51 PM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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I can appreciate your love of genuine hand colored images. This past summer I had an opportunity to work with a photographer/colorist who's been in the business for over 50 years. She graciously hand tinted a portrait just so I could see how a master works. Couple of things I learned:
The sepia toning applied beforehand, was much lighter and softer than I would have guessed. Multiple colors were used, and only roughly blended, for the image backgrounds (added a lot of interest and depth). One of her best "tips" - after the image was complete, she wet her brush on her tongue, and removed most of the color from all of the highlights. Good tip if you think about it!
I think you've come quite close to achieving the look you were going for, and the method is interesting. I think if you just add a little "spit" to those highlights, you've got yourself a winner!
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