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4.1 Select and Colour

If colours have faded, you might want to bring them back. Or you might want to colour a black and white or sepia photograph. In this lesson you'll learn how to use Quick Select, Refine Edge and Quick Masks to make a selection, and layers to colourise the image.

4.1 Select and Colour

Welcome back to Tuts+ Archival Photo Restoration. I'm Marie Gardner and in this lesson, I'm gonna show you how to add color to an old image. If colors are faded, then you might want to bring them back to how they used to be or you might want to color it black and white or sepia image for your own entertainment to see how it would have looked. So this can really be a fun part of restoring a photograph. Add in some color or boost in some color to an old photograph that was already colored. You can see here, we're not working on the picture that we were previously. It didn't really lend itself well to demonstrating how to color a photograph. So you can see here that I've got one of two rural schoolchildren from Minnesota and this picture is from the Library of Congress archive. So we're gonna start with the image itself. You can see that it's grey, because it's black and white. That's no good for coloring an image. So the first thing that we're gonna have to do is go to Image > Mode and then we're gonna change it to RGB. So we'll be able to work on that in color now. So for this, you're gonna want to use the Quick Selector, which you can press W or click on Quick Selection. And we're gonna start with large blocks of color, so things that we know are gonna be the same color. So in this case, the sky. So I'm gonna select the sky and don't worry if it selects the kids too. You can just take them out, you can notice I'll take them out using the minus 1, add area is using the plus 1. That's how it works. So we're gonna do that with the little girl's hat, as well. And don't worry if there's an overlap, it's gonna be pretty easy to adjust and a little bit of sky down here and also here, but we don't want the train. That might not be possible. But again, we can adjust that a little bit later. So when you've got that roughly right, go to Refine Edge and then you wanna have Smart Radius ticked. Make the edges a little bit smooth, just so that it's not a hard edge. You can feather it if you want, it doesn't make too much difference. Don't do it too much or you'll make things really difficult for yourself and that's about it. I've shifted the edge a little tiny bit as well again, so it's not a definite hard edge and then you want the output to be to the selection and you're gonna click OK. And then we're gonna go to Adjustment layers and we're gonna add a Solid Color layer. So let's pretend that it's a nice day in Minnesota and I'm gonna go for blue. It looks awful right now, but don't worry. You're gonna change the Blend mode to either Overlay or Color. Now really, it can be either one, but depending on which layer. Some are gonna work better than others. So I think for this one, we're gonna go with Overlay. If the color looks wrong, which it doesn't look great you can double-click and you can just skip around to see what looks best. So I think kind of a darker blue looks best, cuz it's obviously slightly overcast. Now you can see that it's output with a mask. If you click on the mask, then you'll be able to edit the image without actually touching the image itself, you can work on the mask. So you can see that it's a little bit messy. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna zoom in and then I'm gonna select a brush and we're just gonna tidy up using the mask the areas that should be blue and shouldn't be blue. So firstly, I'm using a black brush to take out the areas that shouldn't be blue. So the little boys collar. It maybe a blue shirt, but would be the chances it's the same blue as the sky. Get rid of that. There's a little bleed on his hat, as well. You will find this much easier and more accurate to do, if you're using a graphics tablet. I'm using a mouse and it's fine, but it is a little tricky. So the telegraph pole here definitely wouldn't be blue New with the trees. Again, don't worry if this looks a little messy and inaccurate, because we're gonna put the green color on the trees and the fields next. So we can always smarten it up a little bit then. We can also just lower the opacity on this, but what I tend to do is leave until last. Leave everything at full color, so that you can see. And then when you've got all of your layers colored, then start dipping the opacity, so you can get it looking natural. So the next thing that we're gonna do is the grass. Make sure you're working from your background layer when you select. If you're happy with your selection straight away, then there's no need to hit refine edge. You can just go straight to the adjustment layer and select color. So grass generally is pretty green. And the trick when choosing the colors is to try and keep it as subtle and pale as possible, because even though you're coloring in an old photo, chances are it would have faded. So again, we'll leave these at 100% for now even though they look a little oversaturated and I'm gonna work on the layer mask again and just zoom right in is that we can tidy up these little patches of green here. And I think while we're here, we'll just remove and this blue. Yes, it's obviously not meant to be blue, it's too dark. So we're gonna replace that with the green from the trees. Now you'll see that depending on the shading in the picture, the shading of the color that you put on changes too. So if you're using the same shade of green it's gonna come out with different shades of green when it hits the different shades in the picture. If you've got something that has obviously different shades, you might wanna select that separately on a new layer and use a slightly different color of the green. So if you're gonna use green for a plant, use a different green for grass, et cetera. Just to give it a little bit of depth and to make it look a little bit different. So that's not too bad. So then the next thing we're gonna do is the next largest block of color, which is the dirt that they're standing on right here. Once again, make sure working on your background layer. Now I'm gonna make the telephone pole, if that's what it is. The same color as the dirt, because chances are when it's that far in the distance, you wouldn't really see the color, anyway. You would just an idea of the color, which is probably sort of brownie grey, but it would look odd if we just left it white. And I'm gonna do the same with the pole of the stop sign, as well I'm also. Going to name these layers something sensible. So we'll call that Dirt, the green one Grass. You can see where I'm going with this and the blue one sky, just so you remember what each layer is. Because by the time you finish, you're going to have a lot of layers. So, it's best to name things sensibly and you can just see that it's starting to come together. It looks a little oversaturated in the background, but as I say, we'll tackle that at the end. We start it with the large blocks of color and then once we've got everything in place, we'll just drop the opacity and experiment with the layers to see what looks best. So as always, don't forget to save your work before we move on to the next lesson. Now that you know how to start color in an image. In the next lesson, I'll show you how to choose the right colors for skin, hair, eyes and clothes. Thanks for watching.

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