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Colorize a Black and White Photo

How to Colorize a Black & White Photo in Photoshop

by Waseem Abbas on Apr 2, 2019

Do you want to add colors to your vintage black and white photos? Sometimes you have a black and white image that needs color. In this article, we will show you how to colorize a Black and White photo in Photoshop.

Colorize a Black and White Photo

First thing you need to do is open your image in Photoshop. If you don’t have it yet, you can get Photoshop here from Adobe’s site here. Their Creative Cloud Plans includes Lightroom and other super helpful software.

You should go to Image » Mode » CMYK Color to convert your image into CMYK color.

CMYK Color

Now go to the Adjustments panel at the right side of your Photoshop screen and add the Curves adjustment layer. (We named this layer as ‘Skin’.)

(If the Adjustments panel is not there, then simply go to Window » Adjustments from the top menu in Photoshop.)

Add Curves

In the CMYK dropdown, select Cyan. You can drop down the curve so Input is set to 50 and Output is set to 30.

Curves Settings

After Cyan, you should select Yellow from the CMYK dropdown. Now drop the curve so that Input is set to 50 and Output is set to 53.

Yellow Curve Settings

Next, you should choose Magenta from the CMYK dropdown. Go ahead and drop the curve so Input is set to 50 and Output is set to 52.

Magenta Curve Settings

Now you should click on the layer mask of the Skin layer in the Layers panel. Make sure to select Invert in the the adjustment layer when painting on the layer mask.

Select the Brush Tool from the Toolbar and set the foreground color to black.

Then, brush over the skin of your model. You can zoom in to perfect the edges.

Brush Tool

Once you are done with the skin, you can now repeat a similar process to colorize the other parts of your image.

In this photo, we worked on the eyes, hair, lips, jewelry, and background using separate Curves adjustment layers.

You can also tweak any black and white parts of the photo, including the hair and a few parts of the eye.

We also added an additional layer to adjust the lips. Here’s how to do it…

With CMYK set in the dropdown, you can drag down the curve so Input is set to 60 and Output is set to 32.

Now select Magenta from the CMYK dropdown. You should drag up the curve, so Input sets to 50 and Output sets to 62.

After Magenta, you can choose Cyan in the CMYK dropdown. Set the Input to 50 and the Output to 40.

You can see the curves adjustment for the lips in the image below:

Color Lips

That’s all. You can see this before and after image below.

Colorize a Black and White Photo

We hope this article has helped you to learn how to colorize a Black and White photo in Photoshop. You may also want to check out our guide on how to add a vintage Black and White effect in Photoshop.

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    1. Thanks so much for adding that crucial part about inverting the adjustment layer in regards to the layer mask painting step! I was driving myself bananas trying to figure out why my “brushing” was basically like erasing the parts of the layer mask.

  1. I asked it was possible to change black and white photos to colour.
    The information you offered was very clear and I feel confident to
    use photoshop to assist me to do the conversion.

    Thank you very much, I am so looking forward to may first attempt.
    I shall of cause comment on my results.

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