photoshop creative
Feb
24

Re-colour a black-and-white photo

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
February 24, 2016

Enliven a black and white photo with colour using adjustments, masks, brushing and blend modes

final

1. Duplicate and blur

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Open your image. Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and use 2 pixels. Click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers palette. Set Foreground colour to black. With a soft brush at 60% Opacity, paint to remove in facial area.

2. Brighten Midtones

02

Click on the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button in the Layers palette and choose Levels. Underneath the histogram, use the midtones slider to adjust midtones. Slide to the left to brighten (we set to 1.40).

3. Apply Colour Balance

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Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button again, choose Color Balance (Elements, choose Solid Color – #cab09f, set to Color blend mode). For Midtones, set to (from top to bottom) +55, -12, -49. Paint black in mask to remove from hair, eyebrows, eyes and mouth.

4. Colour the background

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Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button, choose Solid Color. Pick #628d94. Set to Color blend mode. Click the layer mask. Press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert. Now paint back with white at 70% Opacity to add the colour.

5. Colorize

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Activate the Quick Selection tool, tick Sample All Layers in the Options bar. Click/drag to select clothing. Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button, choose Hue/Saturation. Tick Colorize, set to (from top to bottom) 279, 82, +11. Drop Opacity to 60%. Paint black at 30% Opacity in the mask to reduce.

6. Smooth out the colour

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Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button in the Layers palette, and choose Solid Color. Pick #f9c7ab. Click the layer mask. Press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert. Now paint back with white at 10-15% Opacity to help even out the skin colouring.

7. Add colour to cheeks

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Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button in the Layers palette and choose Solid Color. Pick #edc8b6. Set to Color blend mode. Click the layer mask. Press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert. Now paint back with white at 50% Opacity to add subtle colour to cheeks.

8. Boost lips

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Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button and choose Solid Color. Pick #7c2329. Set to Color blend mode. Click the layer mask. Press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert. With the Zoom tool, zoom in to the lips. Now paint with white at 50-60% Opacity to enhance the lips.

9. Enhance eyes

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Hold the spacebar, click and drag the canvas to the eyes, and release. Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button in the Layers palette, choose Solid Color. Pick #628d94. Set to Color blend mode. Click the layer mask. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+I to invert. Paint back with white at 20% Opacity to enhance the eyes.

10. Colour the hair

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Zoom out. Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button and choose Solid Color. Pick #6b4739. Set to Color blend mode. Drop to 20% Opacity. Click the layer mask. Press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert. Now paint with white at 25% Opacity to colour the hair.

11. Deepen the colour

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Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button in the Layers palette, choose Solid Color. Pick #6b4739. Set to Soft Light blend mode. Click the layer mask. Paint with black at 50% Opacity to reduce the effect in areas.