Kerri's Post-Processing Tips: Recoloring Black & White Photographs

As a fan of all things retro, I wonder from time to time what my favorite old photographs would look like in color. Black and white is great, don’t get me wrong. It does add a beautiful, timeless effect to the right photographs. Sometimes though, if you have an old picture of a family member or your favorite 50’s celebrity, it would be nice to be able to see the photograph how the photographer saw it. There is a particular photograph of Marilyn Monroe that I adore, and I would love to see it with color. So with this in mind, I decided to search for something to assist me in this endeavor. I came across They have several before and after examples in the gallery, including coincidentally, Marilyn Monroe. I was expecting some awful wax figure lookalike with the color added, but the “result” picture actually did look like Marilyn, platinum hair, red lips and porcelain skin. I looked at all of the examples and I was definitely impressed. There was a free trial download, so I decided to give it a shot.

I’m not a fan of reading directions, so I tried to figure it out for myself, to no avail. I finally gave in and read the quick start tutorial in the help menu. After a quick read-through I was ready to roll. I opened up the picture and got to work. First, you have to choose your color. There are drop-down menus for common colors of skin, hair, lips, clothing, metal, etc. You can also make a custom color if you can’t find the right shade. All you have to do is pick your color and trace along the inside of the area that you want to add color to. You don’t have to be precise, just trace the general area where you want the color. For small or thin objects you can just draw a line in the object with the color. Then, continue doing that until everything is traced in its respective color. Once you’ve done that, all you have to do is hit the colorize button and you’re done!

I recommend that you definitely go darker with your colors. The color transfers similar to watercolors and spreads lightly. I think that this is a great program to use to colorize black and white photos. However, I wouldn’t limit this program to just that. There’s also an opportunity to get creative here. You could go extreme with the colors to give some portraits a Warhol-esque effect or give yourself or a friend a “virtual” makeover. Another plus, if you prefer the look, is that the photographs still keep their vintage effect after adding the color.

The free download is a twenty-one day trial, which gives you plenty of time to test out the program, although it is limited. I’m not sure what the trial version is missing, but the website does state that when you purchase the software you get the key to unlock the full version, so I’m assuming that the trial is not only time limited, but feature restricted as well. To purchase the online download it is $29 and to have it delivered on CD it is $44. Prices include shipping with delivery between three to fourteen days.