How to Achieve a Natural Colorization in Classic Mode

The author of this example is Jean-Claude Grégoire. You can colorize this photo yourself using the half-finished materials that we give you. Download an archive containing the original image and the file with the strokes (*.strokes). Read the instruction here to see how AKVIS Coloriage AI works.

Original Image Colorized Image


Jean-Claude Grégoire tells us how to achieve natural colorizations.

For this tutorial, use any graphics editor, for example, AliveColors, and the AKVIS Coloriage AI plug-in (Classic mode).

This tutorial assumes you already are familiar with the AKVIS Coloriage AI plug-in, for having tried it out on a few black and white photos, because it applies to a somewhat difficult case (swimmers in a pool), and demonstrates the use of several rather advanced techniques for getting better results.

It emphasizes:


Preliminary note concerning the depiction of water, human skin and hair

Most often, the main color of the water in a swimming pool may be blue or turquoise, depending on the color of the walls and the bottom of this pool. But, actually, there are many reflections and refractions of the light in the water, which slightly modify this main color. Furthermore, the color of the water and of the reflections and refractions modifies the color of the swimmers' skin in a variable and very subtle way. And all those color variations are a source of some definite difficulties when you're trying to colorize swimmers in a pool.

If you load several color photos in a photo editing program like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, and use the eyedropper tool, you'll see that the hue of one person's hair or skin isn't the same everywhere - i.e. the place of these shades on the chromatic wheel (often given in degrees from 0° to 359°, as in Adobe Photoshop, but there exist other systems) is not the same: here the hair (or the skin) will have a yellower shade, and there a redder one, etc.

So if you want to colorize hair or skin in a very realistic way, you'll have to use various hues for the hair, various other ones for the skin, etc. For example, if you download the strokes file for this tutorial, you will be able to see - when using the Select Color dialog(see below) - that I used two different hues (H = 4° and 25°) for the hair of the child, and three (H = 0°, 15° and 22°) for the man's hair. Ditto for the skin, etc.


What is my problem?

Some years ago I was taking color photos of some friends and of my family playing in a swimming pool. But I came to the end of my film and I had to continue my shots with a black and white one. So now, I find myself at the same time with black and white and color photos of this nice summer afternoon.

Fortunately, AKVIS Coloriage AI makes it possible to colorize one of these black and white photos, drawing my inspiration from the color ones. Now let's start.


Preliminary steps


Working with AKVIS Coloriage AI


The problem of the colorization of the water


The final stages



If you have the possibility of working with two photo editing programs (e.g. Adobe Photoshop and The Gimp) you can open both at the same time, load the black and white photo in the first one and one (or more) color photo(s) in the other one - or vice versa. This can be useful for colorizing very large photos.

Then you'll use the Eyedropper tool for picking colors in the program which contains the color photo, and you use the Select Color dialog in the second program for reproducing these hues by copying the digits you got in the first one.

But beware! The Hue/Saturation/Value digits are not the same in all graphic programs (*), so you have to refer to the Red/Green/Blue digits, which are always the same, from 0 to 255 for each color. Another possibility is to load AKVIS Coloriage AI in both programs, so you can easily use exactly the same Select Color dialog for the black and white and for the color photo.

In any case, if the original black and white photo is not too large, working with only one program is easier and faster than working with two.


(*) For the Hue, some programs use the degrees (from 0° to 359° or 360°), some others use values from 0 to 100 or from 0 to 255.

For the Saturation and the Brightness (=Value), Photoshop gives percentages, so the digits go from 0% to 100%, while other programs give values going from 0 to 240 or from 0 to 255.



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