A few tips before you begin.
Learn keyboard shortcuts.
Save yourself hours by memorising these keyboard shortcuts for the brush and painting tools in Adobe Photoshop.
Try a graphics tablet.
Every artist has their preferred style of work. Tryforos uses a track pad, as she has throughout her career, which she says works fine if you have a large screen. If you’re doing a lot of colorisation, Lloyd recommends using a tablet. As photographer Martin Evening famously wrote, “Once you have experienced working with a pen, using the mouse is like trying to draw while wearing boxing gloves.”
Do some research.
If you want to make educated guesses about the colours the photographer saw through the viewfinder, do some digging. For his historical photos, Jordan Lloyd consults with experts on everything from soft-drink history to Egyptology to pulp fiction from 1920 to 1950. When you do have to guess, Lloyd says, “if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t right. Winston Churchill did not wear a purple jacket.”
Colorisation is a time-consuming, labour-intensive process. Realistically capturing undertones in skin is especially difficult. You may have to add subtle layers of pink, orange, yellow or blue. Experts recommend finding a colour photo featuring similar skin tones to use as a reference.
There are abundant online tutorials to help you to learn how to colorise photos. “It’s actually a low barrier to entry,” Lloyd says. “Find the right photograph, follow the technique and you’ll have a pretty good result. Beyond that, it’s just a case of experimenting.”
How do you know you’re done? “When all the bits have been filled,” Lloyd says.