Color photographs appeared in the middle of the XIX century but were available only to a very narrow privileged circle of people. Therefore, it is normal if the family stores black and white photographs of relatives of those years. Many even like to review them again and again as old cards can awaken special feelings and memories, transfer through time. 

Despite the fact that monochrome images are popular these days, it's normal to want to colorize vintage photos to refresh them. But how to do it? Before you familiarize yourself with the possible methods of coloring, you should remember that in cases where the photo doesn’t have a digital copy, you must do it using a scanner or the services of a photo workshop in advance.

Hand painting

When we talk about old photos, the first method of coloring that comes to mind is hand painting with oil paints, watercolors or special aniline dyes. However, don’t worry, we don’t tell you to take the brush in your hand and start painting on a picture as this requires special skills. There are special photo editors that help everyone to colorize a black and white image. They are simple and quite interesting.

It can be an online application or a program that requires installation but the essence is always the same. You upload a black and white photo to the editor, select the necessary colors and use them to colorize certain objects in the picture. This method is suitable if the photo doesn’t have many small details. For example, you can quickly paint a portrait using similar services, but street or city images can become a real headache.

Digital photo editors

Usually, working with photo editors requires special skills, but this does not mean that it’s impossible. Besides, multifunctional programs such as Photoshop can be very useful quite often. Regardless of which application you select, the colorization process consists of approximately the same steps. There are many ways to give color to black and white photos, but their basis is working with layers.

To begin with, you need to create new layers with a copy of the original image. Each of them is necessary for coloring certain areas (for example, face skin or shirt fabric, if it’s a portrait). In the end, all layers are merged and you get a colored version of the initially monochrome photo. However, this is a very brief description. To learn all the nuances of the process, it’s better to learn the technique with special YouTube tutorials.

Professional work with serious software requires long hours of training and experimentation, and not everyone is ready for it. If you don’t want to immerse yourself in the study process, you can contact the appropriate specialist. There are many editors on Facebook or Reddit. They will help you for a small fee or even for free.

Application to colorize black and white photos automatically 

Digital colorization is the hardest work with hundreds and even thousands of layers. An editor must make changes until every, even the smallest part, blends perfectly with the rest. It is also necessary to assess the level of damage to the original photograph (scratches, ingested dust, mold damage, etc.) in order to correctly eliminate it during editing. Also, don’t forget about the importance of choosing the right colors that look natural in the photo.

It is not surprising that many people who understand the size of the work ahead are trying to find an easier way to do it. Fortunately, an alternative exists and this is automatic photo editing services. Their essence is that you only have to upload a black and white picture to the application and get its color version in a short time. No efforts are required.

One of the most popular photo editors that have this feature is Retouchme. It was created by professionals who have combined many useful features in one application with a simple interface. Speaking of the colorization of monochrome pics, you can learn more at The advantage of a professional colorized photos app is that you get the most natural result.

Neural network algorithms

A group of scientists from The University of California, Berkeley developed a special program based on artificial intelligence, which processes a black and white photo and gives a color copy of it. How does AI colorize images? It has studied millions of both color and black-and-white photos and uses the information received to edit new files. The system is self-learning, so the result is getting better and better every time.

Unfortunately, this technology is not yet available to the public and has flaws but it deserves your attention. Even though photos are realistic, as if they were always colorful, the program can make mistakes with shades and shadows sometimes. But this problem will be solved sooner or later.
If you value old photographs of your relatives and want to refresh them a little, coloring monochrome pictures is a great option. It's hard to do it on your own, but you can try. Those who don’t have such a desire can take advantage of special photo editing services.