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Photoshop Tutorial: How to Color Black and White Photos

Have you been scratching your head trying to figure out how to color old black and white or sepia tone photos? I found a couple of old black and white photos of my grandparents, and I decided to bring the photos to life with this neat Photoshop technique. My grandma was so psyche about it that she made some cookies for me!
Ok, without further ado, here’s the step by step process for coloring black and white photos. Impress your grandma/mother/girlfriend/what have you, and who knows? They might reward you with some cookies too!
1. Open an old black and white or sepia tone photo in Photoshop. Next, go over to tools and select Edit in Quick Mask Mode (alternately hit Q on the keyboard).
2. Select the Brush Tool (B) and start painting the photo. You will notice that the default color when painting in Quick mask mode is green, that is ok, just proceed with the painting process. Remember, donEUR(TM)t go crazy by painting all over the photo! Just paint one particular area at a time. Let’s say you want to color the eyes, simply paint the eyes only. Save the whole face, lips and clothing for later.
3. Once you have painted the area that you wish to color, hit Q on the keyboard again to select Edit in Standard Mode. You should see selection lines around the border of the photo as well as the area that you have painted. That’s ok though, just go over Select > Inverse or ctrl + shift + I on the keyboard. This will make the selection around the photo go away, leaving only the selection around the area that you want to color intact.
4. Go to Select > Feather (alt + ctrl + D) and feather the selection to make it nice and smooth. Choose the feather radius between 3 to 5 pixels.
5. Go over to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or ctrl+ U. This will open up the Hue/Saturation menu. Be sure to tick on the Colorize check box on the lower right hand corner.
6. Now you can proceed to color the photo by adjusting the hue, saturation and lightness sliders. You can also get rid of the selection when coloring, by going over to View > Extras (ctrl + H). Remember its all about experimentation, so if you want get a skin tone color for example, all you need to do is tweak the hue and saturation sliders a little bit to get the desired color.
7. Repeat the steps on other areas of the photo.
Alright so that is how you color a black and white or sepia tone photographs in Photoshop. Beginners might find this Photoshop tutorial a little complicated, but rest assured that after a few tries, itEUR(TM)s a total breeze. Give it a go!
Ghaazi Ismail is a Photoshop fanatic and has been a user of this amazingly fun application for over 7 years. Initially he had some problems understanding the basics of Photoshop. A visual learner by nature, he managed to massively improve his Photoshop skills after watching a collection of easy to follow video based tutorials.
Visit http://www.easyphototips.com to learn more.