How to Color a Black and White Picture in Photoshop

Have you ever found a black and white picture that you thought would look great in color? Or have you ever wanted to recolor a picture? Well even if you haven’t, I’m going to show you how to do it anyway!


Step 1: Get a nice picture

For this tutorial I am going to be using this lovely black and white picture of Megan Fox.

Megan Fox

You can download it from HERE


Step 2: Set up your document

Open up Photoshop and create a new document that is 472×686 px. Or if you followed my link to the image, you can just copy it, and Photoshop will auto set the dimensions. Now paste your image into the document and prepare yourself for the next step (don’t worry it’s not too scary).

Photoshop layers

This is how your layers should be set up so far.


Step 3: Create a new Adjustment Layer

To be able to paint color over this picture, we are going to use a Color Balance adjustment layer. To create this adjustment layer, simply click the adjustment layer button on the bottom of your layers palatte, and click Color Balance.

photoshop adjustment layer

It’s as easy as that!

Now that you have created an adjustment layer, you should see some color settings pop up above your layers palette.

color settings for megan fox

This is where you will create the skin tone that we will be using. For this picture I used the setting above. Midtones set to +77, +6, and -59.

You should now see that your picture has a tan/peach color overlay.


Step 4: Preparing the Layer Mask

Time to set up her skintone. Make sure your Color Balance layer is selected and grab your Paint Bucket Tool (G) and select the color black. Click anywhere on the image and you should see the image go back to black and white.

skintone megan fox

The reason the color goes away is because we are using a mask, so when you paint black into the mask, it covers the color. When you paint white over it, the color shows through.


Step 5: Start Painting

Grab a hard brush and zoom into her stomach area. Again, make sure the Color Balance layer is selected. Change your brush color to white and start to paint over her skin; you’ll see the color start to show up where you are brushing. If you go over the edge of her body, it’s ok, you can always go back with a black brush and “erase” the color.

Once you are done painting over her stomach, you should have something that looks like this.

Super Simple!

Now paint the rest of her body. You don’t need to be very careful around the hair, you can just paint over it for now, and we’ll go back and fix it at the end. The same goes for the eyes, eyebrows, and lips.

Megan Fox painting

You should be at this stage by now.


Step 6: Adding in the Details

Megan Fox looks a bit strange with grey lips. I don’t think that people actually have that lip color, so lets fix it! Do you remember how we made that first color balance layer? Well you will need to make another one.

megan fox lips

This time use these settings. This will be the coloring for her lips.

Use the paint bucket tool with black as your color to hide the color again. Take a soft white brush, and paint over her lips.  You don’t want too drastic of a color for her lips, since it doesn’t look like she has really bright lipstick on, you want a kind of natural tone.

Here is the final product of what you should end up with. You can even go to an extra step and color her hair. You just have to be careful with those little strands.


*Tutorial created by GDesigns. If you are looking for graphic design work to be done contact:

1 comment

#1GabeDecember 9, 2012, 8:52 pm

For anyone wondering, this is much easier to do when using a Tablet. Not like an iPad, folks. An electronic drawing tablet. Good tutorials though, easy to follow, make stuff pop out of pictures. Neato, indeed.

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