Re:Colorize Black & White Photos

by David Hillard

Q: First off thanks for your previous reply Rick. Now this is my first attempt at colorizing the photo I posted. I'm having a problem on the right hand side trees, they just don't look right to me. Any tips would be most welcome. Sorry I had to do another post but I couldn't see a way to reply and add a file.


A: Wow David, nice job!

I know it's a problem that photos can't be added to comments and only one photo can be submitted with each question. It is being worked on, but not possible yet.

For other readers, here is a link to David's original post so you can see the dramatic difference of his latest version: colorize black and white photos

Here's what you can try if you want the trees on the right to match the other trees better:
Use the Eyedropper tool and click on the trees on the left. That will load their color as your Foreground color which you will see in the square at the bottom of the Toolbox.

Use your Quick Selection tool (it looks like a wand with a rectangle of dashed lines on the end) and click and drag over the trees on the right to select them

Next go to the Layers panel and click on the Create adjustment layer icon (half-white/half-black circle). From the dropdown menu choose Solid Color…

This will create a new Solid Color layer filled with the Foreground color you picked up earlier and place it over your selected area of the trees on the right.

At this point it just looks like a blob of green covering up the area. Now go to the Blending Mode field at the top of your Layers panel where it says Normal. Click on that to reveal all the different blending modes and choose Color from near the bottom of the list.

Now they will look closer to the color of the trees on the left. But the dense cluster of trees right next to the castle will still be a little dark.

Use the Quick selection tool again to select just those trees. You can do that by using the left bracket on your keyboard to make the brush size smaller. Then drag your brush over those trees in a slight vertical direction and it should select them but exclude the lighter colored trees just to the right of them.

Go up to the Select menu and choose Feather… Give it a Feather Radius of 1pixel. The Feather will give the edges a smoother transition to the surrounding areas.

Finally go to your Layers panel and create a Levels Adjustment layer by clicking on the half white/half black circle and choosing Levels. In the Levels dialog window move the middle slider (which adjusts the midtones) over to the left while watching your photo change. Move it until it matches the rest of the trees. Click OK and you should be done!

If you have any further questions don't hesitate to ask! And all other readers, remember you can post your comments about this project if you want. It doesn't have to be long (but it can be) :~) Maybe just let David know what you think of his work.

Until next time,

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