'Hand Colouring' Old Photographs

Many of old Black and White photographs and illustrations can be considered suitable for hand colouring, Flickr Commons is an excellent place to start. The example here used free online browser based photo-editing software to try and recreate the ‘traditional’ hand coloured look. However one could take a much more radical approach with some of these images.

Learning Outcomes and Activitiesplease add to the list including links to examples
  • historical research
  • recreating a traditional media process
  • digital painting
  • analysis of photo-editing
  • photo-editing skills
  • remixing
  • empathy

Comparing hand coloured images with their B&W originals, such as these examples from Kelly Short CC BY. This process can also suggest questions such as; "does the colour change how we react to the picture?

Submit your own ideas in the page discussion tab.

Editing a picture
Although some professional may use Adobe Photoshop for this type of image editing. It is expensive and complex to master. There are many free online image editing tools that you can use to simple 'paint' a coloured colour wash over a black and white picture. Some are more complex than others, but of course a simple tool may, with an intuitive interface and painting tools will be much better for younger children. The only requirement is that you can upload a picture to the editor and that you can save the result.

Free Online image editors

Some image editors only proved ' filters' which a can be used to colour or change a whole picture by tinting it, rather than 'painting or colouring parts of it these include:

It is also worth noting some have 'premium' features which need to be purchased whilst others will place adverts on the page to a greater or lesser degree.

Example Workflow
The image of the soldier above was coloured using Pixlr If your painting software or app has a layers feature, this makes it easier to accomplish.
  1. Upload an image to online image editor (or use desktop or mobile app)
  2. Duplicate the Layer
  3. Working on the duplicated layer (the background copy- in this ), makes it easier to 'paint' and 'erase' any mistakes

Advanced tips
  1. Use a new layer for each colour
  2. Use the blending modes in the layer palette
  3. Start using very transparent colours (opacity settings)

Collections of colourised pictures
52 colorized images
Another list from Buzzfeed

See also Colourising Old Illustrations

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