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.


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,

Click here to post comments

Return to Photoshop Elements Q & A.

Search This Site:

Sign up for my newsletter
BECAUSE… You get

  • 4 Step-By-Step Videos showing Tips being used 
  • One-Page Printable Cheat Sheets of Tips

Get My Photoshop Elements Books for just $3.99 from Amazon

More Content… follow me:

"Just a note to say I LOVE your site! There seem to be a few PS Elements tutorials sites, but yours is by far the clearest and easiest to understand. Thanks!" - Ellie

"Watching your tutorials even about things that I think I know I ALWAYS learn something new. A big thank you!" - Douglas

"I am thrilled to find such useful and easy-to-understand information for using Photoshop Elements. I can't wait to use your tutorials (especially with my scrapbooking obsession)" - Judy in MS

Good day Rick, "I very appreciate ALL, ALL of your tutos. Very very clear and useful tips, tricks and techniques of how-to in PSE9. A great great work!" - Hoan

"Love your tutorials on YouTube. Very clear and helpful. Thanks a bunch." -

"I love your videos! They have been such a BIG help. I bought the Dummies book, and it's OK, but I do better by watching instead of reading. Kudos to you!" - Cheers, Kathy

"Thank you for this site! I found it through one of your videos on YouTube.
Again, thank you so much!" - Vanessa

"This is really a truly generous and very admirable website!" - Cheers, Jonas

"Hi Rick! First I've got to say thank you for all the information you share. I can't wait to see the "tips and tricks" you are working on because it sounds like those will help things all come together.
I've gone thru several of your tutorials and learn so much. I can't praise you enough for your time and patience." - Vicki.

"Your website is a great service and I thank you!"
 - Kind Regards, April

"A big thanks to you and your website, and the
 information and help I get from it, its much appreciated." - Rob

Rick - "Many thanks for your advice, that I will take. A big thank you as well for you outstandingly good tutorials. You do seem to have an amazing knack of making quite complicated tasks seem easy and straightforward. I am a fan!" - With Best Wishes, Tony

"Much more helpful than PS Elements 9 for Dummies book.... Thanks so much for your site..truly easy to follow." - Karin

Hi Rick. Just wanted to say a big thank you for all of the great information contained in your tutorials. I've stumbled around PS9 for quite a few weeks now and can't believe quite how easily you explain the different aspects. It's way, way more powerful than I imagined and now, for me, usable too. A big, big thank you from the UK. - Guy