Introduction: Photoshop Colorization Tutorial

In this tutorial, I will show you how to take an old black and white image, and apply colors to it to bring it into the modern day. It's very simple, and you can do it i just ten steps.


* A Windows/Mac/Linux Computer

* Adobe Photoshop

* An internet connection and a web browser

Step 1: Find an Image

Start by finding a black and white image of something you'd like to colorize. This can be any image you want, but try to find the highest possible resolution of the image you'd like to use. Then save the image somewhere on your computer, then open up Adobe Photoshop and press Ctrl+O. Then navigate to where you stored the image and open it up.

Step 2: Do Some Light Research

One important step in accurately recoloring something is to do a little research into what colors you should apply to the image. Here I've looked up an MGB (The car in my black and white photo) and I plan to use the image I found to help me more accurately decide how to apply colors to the image. You won't always be able to find a comparison or something to base you colorization off, but it helps if you can.

Step 3: Select a Section of the Image to Recolor

Start by finding an area of the image that should be the same color such as the body of a car, or a body of water, or a building, etc. Once you decide, use the quick select tool with a low brush size (Around 3-5 works best for me, but use whatever works best for you) and start selecting the area using left click. if you accidentally select a part of the image you don't want selected, use alt+left click to deselect. Fine tune your selection until you're happy with it.

Step 4: Apply Color

Now that you have an area of the image selected, create a new layer by hitting the paper icon in the bottom right corner next to the trash can. Now select the new layer and name it something like 'Body Color'. With the new layer selected, select a color you want to use. Now use the brush tool to fill in the entire selected space with the color you chose.

Step 5: Lower Opacity

After you've colored in the desired area, select the Color layer and lower the opacity to around 20% to let some of the shading from the black and white image shine through. If this is done correctly, you should be able to see shadows and highlights from the original image.

Step 6: Fine Tune Your Selection

After coloring in and lowering the opacity, press select, and deselect at the top of the screen. Now use the eraser tool to erase any excess color in order to get a cleaner selection.

Step 7: Adjust the Color

If you feel like your color needs to be more saturated, or you want to change the color, select your color layer, and use the quick select tool on the area which you colored in and fine tuned. Then, with your selection, create a new adjustment layer with the half circle icon in the bottom right. Use the sliders to adjust the color how you see fit.

Step 8: Repeat Steps 3-7

Now that you've colored one section of your image, you have all the information you need to color the other sections. Use steps 3-7 for each new section until you have covered the image with all the necessary colors. If you are unsure what color something should be, refer back to the research image from step 2.

Step 9: Apply Fine Adjustments

At this point, your full image should have color. However, there may be some colors you want to tweak using the adjustment layer, or a selection you feel is a bit off. At this time, go back and make sure everything is tweaked the way you want it. It can help to look at the image on different monitors at this time to make sure the colors are accurate as well.

Step 10: Save and Export

Now that you've colorized the image, and made any tweaks you felt were necessary, you should save your project by pressing file, save as, and save it as a .psd file. This will allow you to go back and edit the image if you want to in the future. This is optional, but I highly recommend it. Next, press file, save as, and save the file as a .png. This will give you a standard image file that you could for example set as a desktop wallpaper, or upload to the internet. And that's it! You've just taken an image from a black and white piece of history, to a beautiful, vibrant image that looks like it could have been taken yesterday.