Fix an Old Photo

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Stylish Colorized Sepia Tone Picture
Photoshop Training

I just love the look of colorized black and white photos. I have done several of them for others and myself as well, and everyone really seems to like them. This tutorial is a bit different. We are going to add a sepia tone to a picture, and then add some color highlights. This particular project has been one of my favorites.

Here is the photo that I will begin with.

Whatever photo you decide to do this to, the first thing you need to do is decide on a color theme. Too many different colors on a sepia tone photo will look too busy. Best to keep it simple. This particular picture has reds placed nicely throughout it. And since the main subject is wearing red, and it is Christmas, red will be perfect.

First of all, duplicate the layer. That way you can always take a look at the original to see where you might want to add color. Next you will want to add a sepia tone style to the layer. Photoshop comes with a preloaded sepia tone style in the style group Image Effects. To get to this group, click on the flyout menu of the styles window and select Image Effects.

Click on the Sepia Tone Style button, and you should get something like this.

Now you will want to create a new layer (Layer/New/Layer), and name it something meaningful to you. For example, I am going to work on the shirt first, so naturally I will name this layer shirt. You will want to create a layer for each different element that you work on so that you have separate control of each.

So now we should have our original picture on the bottom layer, our sepia tone picture on the next layer and the shirt layer on the top. Select the brush tool, and pull up a nice shade of red on your foreground color tile.

I like to use a hard round brush with the flow and opacity set at 100%. Select a manageable size for your brush. Do this by right clicking and adjusting the master diameter. Adjust the opacity of the layer you are working on to around 40%. You might want to change that level later, but this is a good starting point.

Then start painting the element you are woking on, being careful to paint on that element only. Zoom in and out as necessary to get into finer detailed areas. Here is what I came up with for the shirt.

I really like this nice subdued red color with the sepia tone. It gives the picture a nice antique quality. Now all you have to do is create another layer, and work on the next area, and then the next etc. If you have access to a Wacom Pen Tablet, this is certainly the time to whip that bad boy out.

After all was said and done I ended up with 9 different elements I worked on, each on their own layer. The reason I put them each on their own layer, is because each one of them really needed a different opacity setting to blend in properly. My opacities between the layers range from 33% all the way up to 82%. It all depends on the original color intensity, and the look you are going for. Unfortunately, there is no exact science here. You will just have to play around with it.

Here is my final product. Oh, I also put some blue in her eyes. I couldn't resist.