• How to colourise a portrait

    Article by Ey@el

    Original en français

    In my first photo editing tutorial I taught you how to colourise photos using other pictures (see Related articles). However, since the latter technique only applies to landscapes, here is how I revived this dusty complexion of mine with some colours (which only works on pictures, unfortunately). I used Paint Shop Pro X but any basic photo editing software will do the trick.


    - a preferably well-contrasted black and white (or monochrome) portrait picture


    1. Open a copy of the black and white (or monochrome) picture you wish to colourise. Increase colours to 16 million in order to be able to add colours.

    2. Add a new layer and set blend mode to either Colour or Colour (Legacy) and reduce opacity according to your desired effect.

    3. Start with skin tones. I recommend picking the appropriate hue from an existing colour picture and change it accordingly. Cover all flesh areas using brush and eraser or freehand tool/magic wand to select and fill zones depending on what's best for you.

    4. Repeat procedure for each colour.

    5. Once you're happy with the result, merge all visible layers then make some adjustments or use filters to enhance your picture.

    NOTE: Since the original picture I used is actually a scan from a sepia coloured print, I first had to reduce colour saturation to 0 so as to obtain a greyscale image (in such case, no need to increase colours). After merging layers, I experimented with global and flesh tones contrast with the Color Efex Pro filter series.

    For this second example, I just partially coloured the picture using lesser layer opacity in order to produce a soft pastel effect in perfect adequacy with the original atmosphere.

    I hope this makes you want to experiment. You may also use colour pictures and turn them to greyscale before recolourising them. The possibilities are endless and can only be limited by your imagination and creativity.


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