How to Color Black and White Photos

Your grandmother just showed you her pictures as a child. They are black and white photos, faded, but they care a lot because they are the only memory he has of his childhood. Why not surprise her by giving color to the photos she showed you? How do you say? Did you totally ignore the possibility of “coloring” black and white photos? Well, not anymore!

So, are you already at the “command posts”, ready to start? Perfect! Make yourself comfortable, take all the time you need to focus on reading the next paragraphs and put into practice the suggestions I will give you. I wish you good reading and have fun!

How to color black and white photos with Photoshop

If you want  to color black and white photos with Photoshop, as you have installed  the famous Adobe photo editing program, know that you can do it by exploiting an ad hoc function that allows you to do this in a completely automatic way, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). I want to tell you that the function in question is present on Adobe Photoshop 2020 and later.

To use it, drag the photo of your interest in the main Photoshop window, to open it in the Adobe home program and then go to the Help menu > Photoshop Help (at the top). Subsequently, in the Explore window that appeared on the screen, click first on the word’s Quick actions and then on the item Color old photos. Now you just have to click on the Apply button and let the Photoshop algorithm do the rest.

The version of Photoshop you are using on your computer does not allow you to act through AI or do you prefer to act “manually”? In this case you can proceed with the coloring using brushes, creating ad hoc layers.

To do this, create a new layer by going to the Layer menu > New > Layer. Next, call up the Brush tool from the Photoshop toolbar, select the color of your interest through the color picker and then adjust the opacity of the tool around 10-15% (you can do it through the appropriate menu at the top), to avoid “distorting” the photo. Then repeat the operation by creating new layers and coloring the photo for all areas of the same, until you complete the work.

Whether you have done the operation through the automatic tool or acted “manually”, as soon as you are ready to do so, go to the File menu > Save As and choose the format and location to export the output file. Couldn’t it be simpler?!

How to color a black and white photo with GIMP

Let us see, now, how to color a black and white photo with GIMP. If you have not heard of it yet, it is a famous free and open-source software, available for Windows, macOS and Linux and considered by many to be the best free counterpart to the aforementioned Photoshop. It provides the user with numerous tools that allow you to color photos in black and white, including many brushes.

To take advantage of  it, open GIMP, click on the item Open… in the File menu  (top left) and choose the black and white photo you want to color.

Now, create a new layer, using the Layer menu > New layer and, subsequently, select the Brush tool from the toolbar on the left (top), choose the color to use and then adjust the characteristics of the tool in question using the adjustment bars also located on the left. I advise you to adjust the size to a value between 5 and 15 in case you must act on small details or, in any case, on small areas of the photo, while I suggest you set the opacity of the brush around 10-30. After that, you can go to act on the photo.

To do this, all you must do is brush over the area to be colored while holding down the left mouse button while performing the operation in question. To be as precise as possible, I advise you to enlarge the image as much as possible, acting from the appropriate menu located at the bottom, to act with greater agility. Once you have colored an area of the image, create a new layer, and repeat the steps above until you complete the entire photo.

As soon as you are satisfied with the result obtained, open the GIMP File menu, select the Export as item and choose the format and location to export the output file.

How to Color a Black and White Photo Online

Are you looking for a site to color photos in black and white? Then I recommend the use of Hotpot, a free online service that, using a “smart” algorithm, recognizes the black and white elements in a photo and colors them. The only “drawback” of this service is given by the fact that in coloring the photos tends to use a little too much warm colors, which could distort the images a little. On the other hand, however, it does not apply watermarks as do most services of this type.

Using Hotpot is really simple: connect  to this page and click on the Upload button  (located inside the box on the left) to upload the black and white image you want to color, or drag it directly to the box. Next, select the number of factors that the Hotpot algorithm needs to consider coloring the image and click on the Colorize button.

You just must wait for the photo to be processed, which you can download by clicking on the Download link located under the output photo. Have you seen how easy it was to use this useful online tool?

App to color photos in black and white

Do you want to color black and white photos directly from your smartphone or tablet? Look at the apps to give color to the black and white photos that are listed below – they are sure you will find the ones that are right for you.

  • Colorize  (Android) — is an app designed to color black and white photos that works very well (although with some imperfections here and there, since the whole process is automatic). It is free, but the removal of advertising and full access to its functions requires the purchase of the paid version, which costs 5.99 dollars.
  • Pixlr (Android/iOS/iPadOS)  — this free application (with in-app purchases starting at 0.99 dollars to unlock all its features) allows you to retouch your shots, act on their main parameters and even create fantastic photo collages. Pixlr also integrates tools with which you can color photos in black and white “manually”.
  • Pixelmator(iOS/iPadOS/macOS) — looking for an app to color black and white photos on your iPhone and iPad? Pixelmator might be the right solution for you. Its “clean” interface and brushes that allow you to “paint” on photos, make it perfect for the purpose for which you intend to use it. Pixelmator is available in both mobile (for iOS/iPadOS devices) and desktop (for macOS) versions. The version for iOS / iPadOS, costs 4.99 dollars; the version for macOS, called Pixelmator Classic, on the other hand, costs 29.99 dollars and, of course, includes additional functions do not present in the mobile version, which justifies the significantly higher price. In addition, a Pro version, also optimized for Apple Silicon chips, which includes several more functions for a higher price: 39.99 dollars.

Then you can make a nice calendar with these photos, as I show you in the tutorial