Colorizing black and white photos in photoshop used to be tedious and requires making a lot of selections and masks, but not any more thanks Ai
in this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to colorize black and white photos in Photoshop’s new neural filters, specifically the “Colorize” filter, and we will also try a third-party service just in case the colorize filter fails you.
make sure to download the project files, and let’s get started.
1 – Colorize Black and White Photos using the Colorize Neural Filter
So we’re going to be using the colorize filter to colorize this image and to apply the filter, you need to go to filter > neural filters.
Then you’ll find the new “colorize” filter at the top, and all you have to do is to enable the filter.
Now Photoshop is going to detect the objects in the image and automatically colorize them.
as you can see, most of the image is now colorized, except for some areas that Photoshop missed and there’s also some color bleeding, and I’m going to show you how to fix that later.
So on the right side, you have the settings for the colorize filter, and you can use the sliders to increase the saturation if your image needs saturation, you can control the warmth of the image using the cyan, magenta, and yellow sliders.
There’s also a color artifact reduction slider which may help you to reduce the artifacts and color bleeding a little bit, but in this case, it’s not doing much to the image So I’m going to keep the value of this slider low.
You also have the noise reduction slider, and it can be helpful, especially for an old image like this one.
Once you are happy with all the settings, you can export the image as it is and the changes will be applied directly to the image, but in this case, we’re going to export the changes on a new layer, so we can further modify the image and to do that, you can check this option, which will allow you to output a color layer only.
as you can see photoshop created a color map for us and now to export it, make sure your output option is set to “new layer” and then click on ok.
Once you do that, you will see a new separate color layer is exported and its blending mode is set to “color”.
At this point, if the filter did a great job of detecting the objects in your image and colorized it well, that’s good for you and you can export your image
But in some cases, you might see some color bleeding or missing spots due to the image being complex and in that case, i will show you how to fix it by manually colorizing the missing spots using the brush tool
2 – How to manually fix color bleeding
This method will also work for manually colorizing black and white photos if you want to go that route, but you might need to make some selections to separate the objects
Now to colorize the areas that Photoshop missed and also remove the color bleeding, we’re going to use the same technique which is painting with the brush tool on a new layer set to a color blending mode.
So create a new layer at the top, then change the blending mode to “color”.
Now take the brush tool and choose an opacity and flow of
Then all you have to do is paint on the areas that have the color bleeding by sampling a similar color using the brush tool with alt or option and painting on top of it.
So using this technique you’ll be able to easily fix the color bleeding and colorize the missing areas, and using a low flow and capacity will help you blend the colors better.
Another important thing to remember is if you click on I to switch to the eyedropper tool, make sure your sample size is set to 5 by 5 or 11 by 11 average, this way when you sample with the brush tool, you’ll be able to sample in average color from that area and not the color from just one pixel.
Now if you find that some areas are oversaturated, you can create a hue/saturation adjustment layer at the top, reduce the saturation and then invert the layer mask by clicking on
ctrl/cmd + i
now you can take the brush tool and reduce the flow and capacity to
20%. Then you can paint on top of that area with white desaturate it.
And that’s how you can easily colorize black & white images in Photoshop.
2 – colorize black and white photos online using a third-party service
Now, at the time of writing this tutorial, Photoshop is still not the best at colorizing black & white photos, many time it produces color bleeding or it completely misses some areas
And if this happens to you, you might start looking elsewhere, and i got just the right alternative for you
It’s an online service, you can use it for free for a limited amount of images and a small watermark at the bottom, it’s called My Heritage or you can upgrade to the paid plan and remove the watermark
There are other websites that will do the same service but i found my heritage to be the one yet that gave the best results and produce accurate colors and without color bleeding
So to use this service, go to the website, create a free account and upload your black & white image
wait for it to process and voila! It’s really that simple
Here is a before and after, and as you can see, the results are pretty good
And that’s it, that’s how to colorize black and white photos using Photoshop and third-party services.
If you liked this tutorial, make sure to subscribe to the youtube channel, Thank you for following along, and I’ll see you in the next tutorial. ✌️