Old photos are the closest thing we have to a time machine. Looking at an old photo is like peeking through a small hole in the dark blanket of time. Colorizing an old photo makes that experience even more real.
To see an old black and white photo carefully colorized is always an emotional experience because it makes us realize that we are really like those people, separated by years but not by our humanity.
Adding color brings the people and the surrounding items back to life with an immediacy and an impact that can be truly stunning. Colorizing old photos really is a way to make them come alive. You feel like you might have known them.
In the old days we used paints and pencils applied directly to the photographic print, first applying a spray lacquer to create a “key” for the paints or pencils, then going to work like you would with a coloring book.
These days we scan the image in high resolution then open it in Photoshop. Next, we restore any tears or scratches, and apply a very light sepia tone – this helps later get the right skin tone when we apply color.
We then go to work applying color, digitally painting each item individually on a separate Photoshop layer. Sometimes we end up with 50 or more layers! But the real secret is getting the tone right.
In the days of manual coloring, there was the high likelihood that the original would have to be replaced. However, using modern photoshop methods, the precious original can be kept safe while a new copy is digitally authored.
To learn more about why people are colorizing old photos, check out this article in the Paso Robles Daily News: https://pasoroblesdailynews.com/should-you-colorize-your-old-family-photos/128928/
For more explanation on how colorization works, take a look at the colorization page on our website!