Adobe Photoshop CC - Advanced Training

How to color black & white image in Photoshop

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, in this video we are going to add color where there was none. Easy tricks with Blending Modes. Same in here where this dress was actually kind of gray, and we needed to add color all the way through, to taking something that already was quite red, and just enhancing it by painting a color on top, and then finding an appropriate Color Mode. All right, let's learn how to do that now in Photoshop. 

To get started let's go to '06 Color' and open up 'Color Modes 1', '2', and '3'. So we'll start with coloring a black and white image, and then we'll work through just some slightly harder ones where we really want to enhance dulled out colors. We're going to use Color Modes. So be at 'Color Mode 1', and we're going to create a 'New Layer'. Let's even give it a name, let's go crazy. 'Color Layer'. So this is not essentially a black and white image, but we want to color the petals, because there's no actual pigment in there, that we can maybe use, say the Hue and Saturation to change. This one here has an easy contrast with the background. So we're going to use the Quick Selection Tool to make a quick selection. Make sure you're on the right layer. I'm on the Background Layer, and I'm going to drag out. 

We'll look at the next example that is less easy, because this one has a nice clear background, plus it has that pretty oil filter. Remember that from the last course? Oil Paint, I didn't do it, it's from the photography here. So I've got this. It's looking good. There's some stuff in the middle. I'm going to hold down the 'Alt' key and just get rid of it. It's fine for the moment. So back on to my-- you can see mine taking a while? There's two reasons, I've got Auto Enhanced turned on. Slows down the machine, but also I'm trying to film at the same time, which stresses my little computer up. 

Let's be on 'Color Layer', let's pick a foreground color, I'm picking this pink. We're going to use our trick, hold down 'Option' key on a Mac, 'Alt' key on a PC, and hit the 'Backspace' key. It just fills our layer with a foreground color. Now we're going to use our Blending Modes, and this is going to color it. So Dissolve, not going to work, never works. Darken-- Multiply is always a good one to get started with. You just work your way through until you find something that you like. Now again, remember what the shortcut was for this? Because Blending Modes are a pain to work through. So remember, be on your 'Move Tool', you have to be on that. Hold down the 'Shift' key and use the '+', it's a weird shortcut, but handy if you're doing things like that. So we've added a subtle color using Soft Light. That's pretty cool. 

So I'm just going to find something, okay, it's over the top, but I like it, Color Burn. Let's say a selection's not possible, don't be afraid just to start painting in. So this dress here, I need to recolor. So, 'New Layer'. I'm going to pick out a foreground color, it's going to be red. Going to use a Brush Tool. And before I get too started I'm just going to kind of paint in a big blob so that I can find the Color Mode that's going to work. So back to your 'Selection Tool'. 'Shift' and the '+' key until you find something that kind of works for you. You might be doing different looks, something that works for you. 

What am I looking for? I'm going for Soft Light again, I'm not going for like over saturated red. And because this is just too hard to select we're just going to paint it in. The nice thing about painting it in while it's already in Blending Mode, it's just going to make a little-- because it's quite forgiving. If you paint without it being on Soft Light you can spend ages kind of trying to fix this edge, when in fact the Blending Mode is quite forgiving, so 'Soft Light'. I'm just going to work my way around this. 

Now in terms of brush sizes just pick something that works for the image. In terms of hardness try and match what it was there. There's quite a bit of blurriness on the edge, so I'm going to turn the hardness down to about 80. Just kind of work my way around. A cool little trick is, you can click once, say you've got a reasonably straight line, let's say this bit here, I can click once, hold 'Shift', click again, and it joins the two dots. I find that's a quick way, it's not going to work too well with the fabric here, but let's say you're coloring a building, you can click once, hold 'Shift', click again, and it joins the two bits up. So I'm going to speed this up now, just kind of work my way around coloring my dress. Sometimes these jobs just are long and tedious, I'll see in a sec. 

All right, we're back. You notice I left the corners, just because it's easier doing it, rather than getting a small paintbrush and just coming into all the corners, it's easier probably just to paint it all in, and go over the edges and then use the Eraser Tool. So I'm switching to the 'Eraser Tool' here, and just going to go smaller, and just delete it off. It's easier just to kind of trim off the excess than it is, trying to get in there with a really small brush. I'm going to speed it up again and do the rest of the corners. 

All right, you're back. So once you've got to here, if you are imagining a different color, you can have this layer selected, and I can use my Adjustments, and I can use Hue and Saturation. Make sure it's affecting just the layer underneath, and kind of start adjusting this to maybe more saturation, less saturation. Pick a different color and decide kind of where we need this color to be.

Another trick with Color Modes is enhancing colors. You can spend forever trying to grab the color of this dress, and trying to like lift it out, but there's just not a lot of color information there. So it's really easy to go in, make a new layer. I'm going to use the 'Eyedropper Tool' to get close to the color. In here in my foreground color, you can see it's really kind of washed out, I'm just going to kind of bump it up, not adjusting the Hue, so it's in the same zone but I just want it to be brighter. How bright? We can go bright because we can lower it down later on, using our Opacity, or picking a different Blending Mode. And it's the same principle as before. So if you're shooting product photography, or in this case, you want to make the dress brighter or more rich, instead of using say vibrance, grab the Brush Tool. Pick a nice big brush, we'll get started by just kind of painting in the big bits, and going to our 'Move Tool', holding 'Shift', and just plus'+'ing until we find one color that works for us. 

There's one that works for me. Soft Light again is working for me. It really depends on the color and the image that you're working on. And then a lot more precisely than I am, you go and work your way around, you can see, just kind of make that color-- there was no way of getting that color to that vibrancy, with using say Hue and Saturation. So I'm going to zoom in and use a brush, and get the editor to speed it up. Now that it's done I regret using Soft Light. Clearly fake, so we can either find another Blending Mode, which we'll try in a minute, but let's also look at Opacity. Just kind of slide it down until you find somewhere kind of believable. 60% seems okay, on-off, on-off. It's full, it's rich, it's not overdone; you might disagree. 

What I also might do is I might actually add a Layer Mask, and there's some parts that are just too rich. You can see in here, it's a really dark, unsaturated hand, but here it's really rich, so I've added a Layer Mask, using my Brush Tool, using black as my foreground color. I'm just going to lower the opacity up here by tapping the '3' key, maybe at 30%. Just to kind of start working out some of these bits where they just-- it shouldn't be that rich, there's just no need for it, or it's just not believable. There's some bits down here that just need to be not full on rich. More believable. I'm saying yes. 

All right, so that's coloring black and white images and enhancing colors that already exist in the image. Let's get on to the next video.