Colorizing Photos with Photoshop Elements

My Mother, 1915

My mother, 1915, colorized

Already I have been asked how I colorize photos (see previous posting) so easily and with no artistic talent.  There are several ways, but this is how I do it:  Open a blank, transparent layer on top of the original photo image.  For skin tones, select a pumpkin-orange, and, on the layer,  paint over the skin areas, staying within the lines just as you did in kindergarten.  The paint will completely blot out the photo underneath, but click on the opacity setting for the layer and move the slider to something like 10%.  Voilà! The deep orange fades to a pale wash and the shadows on the photo will appear as they should.  Amazingly, this works for any complexion, white, black, or anything in between.  Add a new layer for each color, such as for a jacket, and repeat.  When all the colors are properly adjusted, flatten the image to combine the color layers with the photo.

It is that simple.  Keep in mind, however, you are adding color, not luminance (darkness and lightness), so a dark jacket can be made dark blue, but not light blue, at least by this technique.  Also, you can alter each color layer with the “Hue/Saturation” command to change, for example, a blue jacket to brown, without repainting.

Keep the color subtle.  Better to err on the side of too little than too much.

RWalck@Verizon.net

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About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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