Hand Coloring Photos in Photoshop

by Philip Greenspun; created 1997

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I always wanted to hand color photos but decided it was too much of a headache because my fine motor skills aren't so wonderful and I hate getting my hands dirty. Apparently, I was "born to program." Adobe Photoshop, however, enables even the klutziest to hand color.

Here are the steps:

  1. Load picture off PhotoCD
  2. In Photoshop 3.0, use the "Desaturate" command to remove all the color. In Photoshop 2.5.1, convert the image to greyscale mode and then back to RGB. Either way, you now have a B&W image in a file that can take color.
  3. Pull down Make Snapshot.
  4. Double click on the Rubberstamp icon and choose "From Saved" and then pick a nice wide brush. Drag the mouse to restore color from the original image to any part of the current B&W image.
  5. Double click on the Rubberstamp icon again and choose "From Snapshot". Now choose a fine brush and go over any boo-boo areas where you restored color inadvertently. (You are restoring the image from the snapshot you made of the B&W image.)
  6. Print to Fujix 3000 photographic quality printer and sell as one of those "I spent 8 hours hand coloring this" art prints.

Before | After (I burned the sky in a bit also and reduced the color saturation slightly.)

Text and pictures copyright 1995 Philip Greenspun