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Colorizing...Just Curious

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  • Colorizing...Just Curious

    I was curious as to which method all of you prefer when colorizing a black and white photo.

    I've seen different steps on a selection:

    Edit fill
    Adjusting hue and saturation
    Using the airbrush

    I tried a comparison for myself using edit fill and comparing it to the airbrush set to color at about 40% and there is quite a difference.

    Just curious as to which methods and perhaps some use several different ones on a picture depending on the effect.

    Something to think about I guess.

  • #2
    Hi Chris,

    I've used all three ways to colorize. But I haven't done a lot of colorozing, so I'd be interested to see what others have to say. I know some of the people here have done super jobs on colorizing B&W's.

    I'm a big fan of layer masks, and I use them on just about everything I do. With all the mistakes I make, the layer mask is a God send.



    • #3
      I used to use the selection and hue/saturation with color checked to color but lately I switched to doing colors on seperate layers set to color blend mode. I think you get alot more control and can go back and fix it easier. It's the method Katrin was using in her book. Especially if you are not sure if you will want to change the color when all the other colors get applied. If you color by using selections on one layer, make sure you save those selections for later color corrections.


      • #4
        Thanks for the responses DJ and Ed,

        DJ I tried your method and you do have a lot more control and it does make it easier to go back and correct a selection if need a great thread this is for me as now I'm a lot more comfortable in colorizing.


        • #5
          I use painting in color mode and the hue adjustment technique. When I know what I want, painting is fast and direct. If I'm feeling more experimental or don't quite know what will work best, I like the slider control that parades an endless array of choices.
          Learn by teaching
          Take responsibility for learning


          • #6
            Blend If

            One option that I use all the time when recoloring (in combination with blend modes and layers) is Blend If. I detail a way to use this in my book for colorizing -- and in fact have an example of an image that I remove the original color from and restoe the color completely, using a pretty simple process.

            The essence is this: You can create new layers and target color to specific tonal ranges by using blend if. This lets you apply color in NORMAL mode (and use opacity) rather than COLOR or HUE (or other modes), which can wash out based on tone. For example, if there is an area of a flag that you want to be red, and it shows against what should be a blue sky, and the tones are say 40% gray for the flag and 12% for the sky, you can just create a layer, target the application to 35-45% gray, use a big-ol' brush and paint the area of the flag (sloppily even) and depend on the Blend If to keep the color out of the sky. Next, you create another layer that targets the 12% gray, and paint in the blue for the sky.

            This is good because it allows you to still use all your other features (layers, modes, masks, freehand tools, and selection) but forces the color to behave and attach itself to specific areas of the tonality.

            I've used this in situations where the color of an image was just ruined, yet there was enough in the image to rebuild the tone in B&W. I've been able to remove color from regular color images and re-apply it so that it is better than the original (it is another option for dealing with stains: select, copy, paste, desaturate, create a grouped layer in Normal mode, target the tones with blend-if and freehand paint or stamp).

            Blend If is a powerful and often ignored tool.


            • #7

              That's an interesting approach to colorizing. I have it saved for future reference. I'll have to try it. Thanks for sharing.



              • #8
                Thanks for the great tip. I'm not sure I ever knew about blend if so I can't wait to try it out. I saved it to my collection of great Photoshop tips. Love getting new ideas and tools to try out.


                • #9
                  Thanks for the post Richard.

                  I'm going to have to try this method out. I always like learning new ways to do different things as it seems like each method produces just a little different output.

                  Thanks again!


                  • #10
                    Richard you mentioned you deatiled this in your book on colorizing...have you written a book on colorizing?


                    • #11
                      Not a Colorizing Book, no...

                      The entire book is not about colorizing, but there is a section on the technique I use to colorize, and I use it to describe my methodology for working with Blend If. There is a book review right here on the site (Special Edition Using Photoshop 6: see try and cover the whole spectra of what Photoshop can do. Blend If is something I see as really imperative to colorizing, and like I said I think it is a little used -- and really poorly understood -- tool. I've seen actual printed books with the description of the tool as *useless* in blending...because it wouldn't blend a girls' face with a flower or something. Well, I wouldn't use a chainsaw to put icing on a cake either...

                      Blend If is another tool -- not superior to other things that work, but certainly a useful and viable option for applying color, patterns, etc. to specific tones (and even to specific colors). It takes some work to get used to. There are also pretty exacting ways to get good results by measuring tonal ranges with the eye-dropper and using those measurements to set the positions of the sliders. It is worth learning if you do retouching and colorization, and I think it simplifies a lot of what would otherwise be some pretty complex masking.

                      Glad there are several who found the tip useful. My suggestion would be to start simple with Blend If. The flag example was not an accident...The Italian, French, Colombian or US flag are good choices. Find examples on the internet and desaturate then recolor. Don't start with skin tones! Do those later when you've got the basics down. You'll find you can use some fairly artistic techniques, and potentially stronger color results.


                      • #12
                        I never made the connection even though I've seen your book several times. Excellent reference material. Congrats on a fantastic publication and glad you joined us because as you can tell we can use all the knowledge we can get here and we are proverbial sponges for info. It does however, make me curious what someone good enough with Photoshop to write a bible on it would get out of this forum though. Not to belittle our members by any means because they are all talented people, but you have definately gone beyond most of our knowledge of Photoshop. I'm glad you found us interesting and I look forward to your insite. God do I look forward to your insite!! Keep the good advice flowing, we love it.

                        I just checked out your site and bookmarked it for Photoshop reference and tutorials. I think I am going there now to check it out more in depth.
                        Last edited by DJ Dubovsky; 10-21-2001, 01:42 PM.


                        • #13

                          Looks like a nice site! I spent about 15 minutes or so checking it out, and I really liked what I saw. It earned a place on my bookmarks. Looks like I was the first one to post a question for you. Let's see if you can handle it.

                          One other thing. No fair visiting for a day or two then leaving! Now that we've got ya, we wanna pick your brain!



                          • #14
                            Jeepers, DJ, I didn't know our site had a self-esteem problem

                            We get a wide range of visitors, both registered and as guests. I frequently see visitors from companies such as Canon and Polaroid. I'm glad someone of Richard's calibre finally de-cloaked, but he's by no means alone.

                            To quote myself: "Quite simply, RetouchPRO is a resource for anyone, professional or hobbyist, who is interested in photo restoration, retouching, and manipulation."
                            Last edited by Doug Nelson; 10-21-2001, 03:23 PM.
                            Learn by teaching
                            Take responsibility for learning


                            • #15
                              Aaaah come on Doug, you know I didn't mean it that way. I know there's some very talented people here and I love all you guys. However, it was kind a like meeting a celebrity here and I figured anyone who can write a bible on this Photoshop stuff is someone who's brain is in need of pickin and me and my buddy Ed here arn't too proud to pick away at a possible resource. Sorry gang if you thought I was saying you arn't of the highest caliber, cause in my book you all really are.


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