How to add colour to a black and white photo in PhotoShop

PhotoShop CS3 Photo series

How to add colour to a black and white photo in PhotoShop

This tutorial will show you how to add color to a black and white image in Photoshop

This tutorial assumes you already have your picture open in Photoshop

1) The first thing we’ll do is open the layers palette from the Window menu

Now we will need to change the mode to RGB to allow the image to pick up the color we’ll be adding

2) Go to Image…

3) …then Mode…

4) …and select RGB Color

5) With the background layer selected, click the New Layer icon

6) Double click the new layer’s name to rename it

7) Type a meaningful name and press the Enter key

We will be using the brush tool to paint on sections of the image. For this tutorial, we will select the skin tone using a color image

8) Open the image using the File menu

9) Select the Eyedropper Tool

To get the best color, we will select a 5 by 5 point sample

10) Click in the image to get a color sample

11) We will now close this image to get it out of the way

12) Select the Brush Tool

13) Click the arrow to expand the brush options

14) Choose a brush with a hard edge

15) Adjust the diameter if needed

16) Click and drag in the image to apply the color to the skin

17) Continue to paint in the image until all of the skin is covered

Notice that the eyebrows, lips and visible nostril were left unpainted

Now, we’ll tell Photoshop to apply the color using the shades and textures of the original image by changing the layer mode

18) Change the mode to Color

The image now has some color, but it is much too saturated

19) Go to Image…

20) …Adjustments…

21) …Hue/Saturation

22) Decrease the saturation

23) Click OK

Now that the skin looks more realistic, we’ll add color to the hair

24) Start by creating a new layer

25) Rename the layer

This time, we’ll use the color palette to choose a shade

26) Click to open the Color Picker

27) Choose a new color

28) Click OK

29) Since we’re starting with the eyebrows, we’ll need a smaller brush. Press the left bracket to decrease the brush size

30) Click and drag until both eyebrows are painted

31) Do the same for the hair

32) Change the mode to Color

33) Again, we will adjust the saturation

34) Decrease the saturation

35) This time, we will also decrease the lightness

36) Click OK

The next part we will colorize is the lips

37) Create a new layer and rename it like before

38) Select the Zoom Tool

Because this part is so small, we will zoom in

39) Click and drag around an area to zoom to

40) Select the Brush Tool

41) Go to the Color Picker

42) Choose a nice red or pink tone

43) Click OK

44) Color the lips

45) Change the mode to Color

46) Zoom out to see the result

47) Click Fit Screen

We will decrease the saturation a little

48) Adjust the slider

49) We will also decrease the lightness

50) Click OK

Now, continue using these steps to colorize the rest of your image

That’s it! You now know how to add color to a black and white photo in Photoshop

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