Today I am colourizing a monotone image. This was quite a popular technique in black and white photography that became very fashionable in some counties in Europe throughout the early 19th century and has been revived a few times in the last century. In the darkroom you would colour a black and white image using pigments that were applied in a few washes.
This technique does not suit all images and does need to be done with delicate touch. The are many ways to approach this technique all with universal steps, create a black and white image and then apply colour.
For this technique you do need to start with a colour image as the workflow utilizes the original colour from the image. The type of image that it is best to start with is one that has a slightly flat contrast with strong colours.
I have started with two tulips in a sea of white flowers with a pink hue. I made basic adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw and loaded the file into Photoshop
Next I converted the image to black and white, there are many ways to this and all are good but you must preserve the colour layer. I did this by duplicating the background layer into a new document and then splitting the channels. I chose the red channel for my black and white conversion and dragged this back to my original image.
I duplicated my background layer again but this time in the same document and placed it on top of all the layers. I applied a gaussian blur, about 18px, set the blending to overlay and reduced the opacity (around 30%). I duplicated my blur layer and changed the blending mode to colour and changed the opacity to taste (around 60%). This creates the colouring of the iamge. If you wanted to you can choose colours and add them as new layers, painting them in.
Using the eyedropper tool I select a dominant colour from the background layer and placed it as a photo filter above all the layers. This gives the impression that the image was toned before the image was painted. You can control the hue of the colour using the density slider.
For some finishing touches I converted my black and white layer to a smart object and applied a Shadow and highlight adjustment to bring back the highlight details that were lost earlier, sharpened the image using the highpass method and added a small curves adjustment to give some contrast.
I think the final image is ok, it is obviously a less intense version of the original with the colours being less saturated. I also feel like the image has an aged quality about it and a more subtle beauty than the original.
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