Is it image restoration, picture restoration or photo restoration? In fact, it is all three. It just depends on how you interpret the phrase.

An image restoration or whichever you prefer to call it may take the shape of colouring an image. I have shown an example of this before in image restoration colouring but I thought you might like to see the colour being added back slowly in an animation. I am sorry it’s not very good quality but I’ve yet to work out how to make a smooth movie from .jpgs

Rather than show all the frames separately this seemed like the best way to do it. The day was early spring not long after snow in the UK so the colours for this type of light and time of year were used.


Digital colouring an old photo


With image restoration hand colouring all you do is set up a “new layer” above the main image and fill with a colour, set a layer mask to “hide all” and set the layer properties to “colour”.


Digital colouring


You can see in this image how the layer above is set to “colour”, and the black mask or the “hide all” mask has been painted on with white to reveal the colour that has been hidden. Once you have the first one set up you can make a whole bunch of these with all the colours you are going to use and then its a case a paint them in slowly and carefully. Its best done with a low opacity brush and build up the colour, it is so easy to overdo it. You can also play with the layer properties and change them from the drop-down box to “overlay” or “colour burn” or one of the many others to get a better colouring result. There are many modes to choose from and the results vary depending on the opacity of the layer. Opacity is how to see through that layer is, thus affecting the intensity of the effect.

I know it sounds complicated but its best just to set up a basic image and start colouring the more you play with it the more you find out what works best for your own image restoration.

For a complete guide on colouring an old photo see colourising or tinting and old photo a post showing in greater detail how to do this. It is in two part so be sure to read both!