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Black/White Colorization Tutorial

Discussion in 'Colorized Period Photographs' started by Zuzah, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. Zuzah

    Zuzah Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    Hi there. I'm Zuzah, those of you who frequent this website know me, but if you found this via googling, hi. I colorize images. Let me dazzle you and show you how, for only $9.99 a mont... Let's get started.

    So, this will be broken down in to two parts in order to do portrait photography. Firstly we'll start with the face. Face is the most important part in any photograph as it's what we look at very first, so the first impression is incredibly important. I have quite a funny way of doing faces, and I'll show you quite simply. You will need photoshop to do this, cs4-5-6, doesn't matter.

    Firstly, you need a black and white image, obviously. You can refer to the sticky in the Photography forum (http://civilwartalk.com/threads/civil-war-photographic-sources.78142/) for finding one that suits you. You can also search on Wikipedia to find some rather high quality resolution Brady/Handys that might not be on the listed websites (Alfred Terry as an example).

    Anyway, let's move on. For this tutorial I've chosen Major General Ambrose Burnside. Now, I went on http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/cwarquery.html (My preferred website) and searched. Once I found the portrait I wanted by looking through the options in gallery mode, I clicked in on the image, however I'm then faced with three options.

    [​IMG]

    1) Retrieve higher resolution JPEG version
    2) Retrieve uncompressed archival TIFF version
    3) Highest resolution TIFF version

    Now, let me explain the options a little bit indepth. The first one is a very small (compared to the .tiff) image that you won't get very far with. The middle, and second, option is a very large image, but it's compressed slightly at the cost of resolution, this particular uncompressed version of the image is 3373x5120. For a comparison, a standard "24 inch monitor is about 1920 pixels in width, so that image is almost double that height. For the uncompressed higher resolution TIFF version, this image baloons to a whopping 4941x7500. Now this is an incredibly large image, and for our purposes, nearly pointless, and this last option should only really be used for when you're doing environmental images, so I chose the middle option, like I usually do with portraits.

    So, let's load it in to Photoshop, by right-clicking it and opening it with photoshop, or simply opening photoshop and dragging it in, either way you do it is fine.

    .tif files usually have one major malfunction, they come in Gray, not RGB mode, which means no color but grayscale can be added, so we have to change that, which is very simple, you go to the dropdown menu at the top named 'Image', then go in to 'Mode', and press 'RGB color'. If you already have layers created like 'Levels' or 'Brightness and Opacity', it'll ask you to flatten or don't flatten, press 'Don't flatten'.

    [​IMG]

    Right, so once that's taken care of, we can start the process of getting layers added to make this fella seem alive. The first things I like to do when given an image, is to toy around with the levels of dark- and brightness to make it seem less fake, anyway, let me show you that. I'll show you once how to make a new layer, and then I'll assume for the rest of this guide that you've learned, if not, tough luck buttercup.

    This, is where you create a layer.

    [​IMG]

    In the bottom right corner, for referrence. Alright, now create a 'Levels' layer, and a 'Brightness/Opacity' layer so we'll have the same 2 layers:

    [​IMG]

    So, now that that's done, let's adjust the levels. My interface might look different from yours, fear not, there's always a surefire way of doing it, I press a little button and the interface pops out, anyway, let me show you how to edit 'Levels' properly.

    [​IMG]

    For referrence, I press the bottom button to the left to access the interface.

    Anyway, what's going on in this image is fairly simple once you get to know it. The left side control the darkess, the middle one you leave completely alone unless you want to mess up your image, and the right one controls the brightness. You want to make sure that the right and left sliders are both alligned to the first mountain to have the best effect, much like I did.
    If you take an extra look at the image, you see I moved the sliders very very little. Anyway, let's discuss brightness/opacity.

    [​IMG]

    This will be the interface you're faced with. Turn the Contrast slider down until you reach a level you're satisfied with. In a very foggy image, it might also help to turn up the brightness, or turn it down for that matter, and adjust the contrast. This is basically a tool that I use when the images don't look natural to me, use at your own risk. I only use it to turn down the Contrast anyway.

    Alright, now that we've gone over that, it's time to crop out/remove flaws of the image. With CS6, that's made incredibly simple, you press the crop tool

    [​IMG]

    The image should be self-explanatory, but this is basically what you need to know to use the crop tool, and don't worry about the layers dissapearing, they'll return once you're done cropping. You can crop out major damage or you can crop out family members if you dislike them aswell, the decision is yours - in Photoshop, you are a God. I chose to crop out the white & black borders, and shave a little bit off the top of his head to just make the image smaller, and more manageable.

    Now, let's get on with actually colorizing the image. I'll start with a full layer of red for all areas of skin, I use the color code Ce1212 for this, but any red might work. Now, once you create a layer, it'll say 'Normal' at the top, that's your blending option. Some people like to use Color, some may use Overlay, and others, like me, use Soft Light. Obviously I'm an advocate for soft light, but hey, whatever floats your boat gentlemen and gentleladies.

    Right, let me show you what to do when creating a layer aswell, because when you want to colorize, you press the black/grey half-moon and create new 'Solid Color', and you'll be tasked with an image that's completely filled with color, now, what you wanna do is press the white area of the new layer. This is white because of all the color added to it.

    [​IMG]

    Once you clicked ONCE there, you hold down Ctrl, and then press A, then press Delete on your keyboard. What this does, is when pressing the white part, you de-select the layer itself, and when using the Ctrl-A command, you select all of the color, and by pressing 'Delete', you're removing all the color from the image.

    [​IMG]

    Right, now that the layer is created, and all the color is removed, we're ready to colorize. Of course I'm joking, there's more technical stuff to do! You want to click 'B' on your keyboard to get out of Crop mode, and then right click on the image to adjust the size of your brush. Since this image is quite big, you want to use around 50 or so for splashing red all over the image, but before you start brushing, dear god, please do the following. Adjust your brush hardness, this includes your Erase tool, so don't forget it, I'll only show how to adjust it, you have to press 'E' and adjust it for that yourself!

    [​IMG]

    This is to show you why it's good to use no hardness on the brush. 100% hardness makes it incredibly hard to make edges look real, and it looks pixelated, whereas with 10% hardness, the color is laying down on the image a lot more natural, it's basically like painting with a brush against a pencil, you see? Anyway, here's how to change it!

    [​IMG]

    Top-left corner, quite simple, isn't it?

    Anyway, this is thé most important thing when colorizing, next to choosing the right colors and researching your history.

    Let's get on with actually colorizing, since we've done all the groundwork to prepare for it.

    Before we do anything, change the blending mode to soft light.

    [​IMG]

    Soft Light is right-smack dab in the middle, impossible to miss.

    Now, change the opacity of the layer itself to 12% so he doesn't look like a granny smith apple. You can even color the face/skin areas in with bright red to make sure you don't miss anything. The Opacity slider is in the top-right corner next to the blending mode, if you don't know how to find this, I can't give you directions to it, you need to phone me immediately and we'll get you help.

    Here's a little tip that a lot of people might not know. You remember the white part of the layer, the part we Ctrl-A- Deleted? Hold down Alt, and then click it again, this'll bring up a weird new interface.
    [​IMG]

    This is the part I've already colored in. You can see where his beard and hair is, you can see where his ear is, etc. Now, the reason for me making closed circles is because, when I hit G, I select a new tool called Paint Bucket tool, by pressing my mouse on his forehead, it fills the layer in completely, save for a little outlining.

    [​IMG]

    In this image you can also see where his eyebrows are, try not painting them over, but remove the black areas and make them white by pressing 'B' to select the brush tool again. Holding down Alt and pressing the white part of the layer mask will bring you back to normal, and you can fill the rest out. Because Ambrose Burnside had quite blood-shot eyes in this image, aswell, I decided to paint the red over his eyes. Once you're done, press G again, and click where all the paint is, once for each section, just to make sure we have everything colored in. This is important to do for each layer. Right. Now, the red face layer is only one out of many, let's make another layer with the same opacity and nearly same color code, just a little pinker. This is for the cheeks, nose, and ear area. I also add it over the mouth to give it a stronger red. Since that last layer is very subtle, there's not much point in showing it, let's go over the lips. Take a red layer, maybe a little darker or pinker depending on how the grayscale hue looks, and splash it on the lips.

    [​IMG]

    I know he looks like a clown (He kind of was anyway), bear with me, we'll fix it once everything is added to the image, and we start playing with Hue/Opacity - that's where the fun part starts.

    Make an 8-10% dark-yellowish layer and add it to the top of the head, this is, in this case, to simulate him being untanned. On the topic of being tanned, let's take a brown, 20% opacity layer, and add it to all parts of the skin, just like the red part (You can even right click the red layer, and press 'duplicate layer', and just change the color and opacity to save time, but don't tell anyone, that's our little secret.), and color it all in. I personally prefer giving the entire image this brown, I feel it dampens the colors a little bit more and adds a bit of vintage glow to it, but it's up to you, your decision entirely my friend.

    Right, now for the manly stubble/shading of dark areas part, it's a two-way layer. Create a grayish-blue layer of 40% opacity, and add it to the parts of the skin that's shadowed (The eye sockets, sometimes the forehead if he's wearing a hat, etc), and the usual places a man would have stubble, i.e. his cheeks, chin, upper and bottom lip, etc. This layer can have its opacity lowered or raised depending on personal preferrence and how you think the image looks. Right, now it's time to add pink and yellow to the face to make him come alive!

    Let's start with a pink layer, because I like doing this. Try to avoid making it pink-pink, but reddish-pink. Now, change your brush-opacity to 20%, and keep it like this for doing the yellow layer too, how you change this is different than layer opacity, but still incredibly simple.

    [​IMG]

    Now that that's handled, time to color the layer in. You need to remember this next bit.
    Pink in the skin is all over the place, but it's mostly prevalent in places like the ear lobe, the inner and outer parts of the eyes, any creases in the skin, and tip of the nose. Basically any place on your body that feels incredibly warm to the touch, and also any wrinkles will have a little bit in them, aswell as the raised edges of the ear. Here's what I colorized on this particular image.

    [​IMG]

    Now for the yellow area. I painted the bottom of the eyesocket a little bit, aswell as the cheeks, and his chin got a splash too, aswell as select parts of his ears. The way I colorize the yellow is dependant on what areas of his skin has a lot of fat in it, i.e. smiling cheeks, skin that's laid close to the bone (Nose-bridge) will also have a bit more yellow skin color to it, here's what I colored in anyway:
    [​IMG]

    Right, now on to skin color, we'll do hair right after that, ignore the winamp warning.

    I almost always use a variation of a8846f, my skin color code. I drag it down to give a darker, more cool look, and I drag it to the right to alleviate for complexion, like in a Lincoln image, and I drag it to the left to alleviate for a bit more pale skin, if you were colorizing a Dracula actor as an example, or a dead person. Remember to change your brush back to 100% opacity. :wink:

    Now that the entire face is colored in, it'll always look a little pale, I intended that. In the top of Photoshop is a dropdown menu next to the one we used previously. This one is called 'Layer', you need to get to 'New Adjustment Layer' and add a 'Hue/Saturation' layer, now it's important to remember to check the little box that says 'Use previous layer to create clipping mask', so you're editing the layer, and not the image itself. This is what you want to do:
    [​IMG]

    Don't forget!

    [​IMG]

    Now that that's handled, we'll just leave it for now, this was just to show you how to do it so I don't have to show you later. Let's make a hair-layer. Mr. Burnside has faded-brown sideburns, and slightly darker brown hair, we'll pull the hues out later with some clever stuff, let's add a hair layer, and color everything in, I always use a slightly faded brown because of a little trick I learned not too long ago.
    AndyHall likes this.

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  3. Zuzah

    Zuzah Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    [​IMG]

    So, this looks rather silly, doesn't it? Activate, HUE/SATURATION!

    I always increase the saturation of the skin layer by about 40 or 50, it depends on how bright or dark the image is, and how it looks to you. So, in this image, I also added hue/opacity layer to the lips, and turned it down rather tremendously by about 50 or 60 to the left, this makes him look a lot more natural, however somethings still missing.

    [​IMG]

    Skin color to the hair will make the entire thing seem a lot more natural, so, if you've read the entire thing, you should know how to turn your brush opacity to 20%, let's do the same here, and select your skin layer, and start adding a lot of it to the hair, and a little bit less to the beard. I'll show you how to draw out the individual gray hairs and accentuate them in a little bit.

    [​IMG]

    Big change. Now press 'E' to select your erase tool, and turn the opacity of this down to around 10-15%, and find any gray hairs in his beard that stands out, and then erase the skin color off of it, very simple, but incredible results.

    [​IMG]

    Right, so I took out a lot of skin color along his beard, some in his eyebrows, and a lot aswell in his hair. Any whiter-than-usual hair needs to get some color removed from them to look natural. Now, let's pick an eye color. Depending on the lighting this is incredibly easy to tell. Ambrose Burnside had clear eyes in black/white hue, this is usually an indicator that he had blue eyes. If they were darker and less a lot less clear, they're usually brown. I've yet to hear of a General with green eyes, but there are of course green-eyed people out there (Including yours truly.).

    Anyway, pick a blue layer, and add it on to the eyes, carefully. Also, I made sure to accentuate (his right) his left eyes veins with a 30% opacity brush stroke from my lip layer.

    [​IMG]

    So all in all, it's quite a neat result. This image was not in the best of shape, and you'd get a lot better results from a more modern one, but this is still pretty terrific.

    Once you've gone through this small written tutorial, you can watch this video of it in progress.

    sjw83071 and kholland like this.
  4. civilwarincolor

    civilwarincolor First Sergeant

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    Great info, thanks for sharing.
  5. Zuzah

    Zuzah Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    That took longer time than I care to admit, lol.

    Just for referrence, and to save my own bacon, this is how it looks on a modern 1970s~ photograph:

    [​IMG]
  6. Roland

    Roland Sergeant

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    Wow, thanks for sharing that . it was very informative!
  7. Roland

    Roland Sergeant

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    Wow, thanks for sharing that . it was very informative!
  8. Zuzah

    Zuzah Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    No problem friend-o.
  9. reading48

    reading48 1st Lieutenant

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    Very interesting....
  10. Joshua Horn

    Joshua Horn Sergeant

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    Thanks for the tutorial, I have been working on some colorzations and this gives me some ideas of how to improve.

    One thing I like to do is color the background/wallpaper as well. It's not really necessary, but I think it really brings it to life even more.
  11. Zuzah

    Zuzah Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    I was going to cover that aswell as the uniform/gold/chair/whatever in the next section, but I got lazy. Yay me!

    How have you been doing recently with the whole colorization gig, mind if I see your latest?
  12. Joshua Horn

    Joshua Horn Sergeant

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    Yep, I'll post a few...
  13. Zuzah

    Zuzah Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    Added video. :smile:
  14. Garyjd

    Garyjd Cadet

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    Any idea how to do this step wth Photoshop CS2 (I know it's ancient)? The folowing step(s) do not seem to work with this version of PS

    "Once you clicked ONCE there, you hold down Ctrl, and then press A, then press Delete on your keyboard. What this does, is when pressing the white part, you de-select the layer itself, and when using the Ctrl-A command, you select all of the color, and by pressing 'Delete', you're removing all the color from the image."

    [​IMG]
  15. Joshua Horn

    Joshua Horn Sergeant

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    What you want to end up with is a layer filled completely with color, with a mask applied and set to completely black.

    Look at step 2 from this link:

    http://digitalscrapbookplace.com/university/tutorials/ps_layermasks.shtml

    You then want to click on the mask (the icon to the right in the layers panel) hold ctrl and then press a to select all and then fill it with black and then continue following Zuzah's tutorial.

    Let me know if that makes sense
  16. Evan

    Evan First Sergeant Forum Host

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    Paul Newman?
  17. wilber6150

    wilber6150 Brigadier General Moderator

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    If I follow your question you can remove or add the mask to the whole image by just using the paint bucket, and filling the image with white to add the mask or black to remove it..
  18. Garyjd

    Garyjd Cadet

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    I got it thanks fellas.
  19. Zuzah

    Zuzah Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    Indeed-y.
  20. blackcirclefilms

    blackcirclefilms Cadet

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    Love the tutorial, I get stuck at the same as the user above, filling the screen with RED. When I hit CTRL>A>DELETE, nothing happens. I tried using the link shown but was none the wiser. I'm fairly new to Photoshop, does anyone have any suggestions? Merry Christmas!
  21. Keith Cochran

    Keith Cochran Private Trivia Game Winner

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    Thanks for the tutorial. I do not have Photoshop. I am using Gimp2.8 so I kind of have to follow what you do and see if I can make gimp do it. I had some fair success with a different image of Burnside. I just need to work at this some more. It really helps knowing how you do the skin coloring. The hair is what gives me the most trouble.
    Anyone else try this with gimp?

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