We’ve recently learned that you can edit videos in Lightroom, at least as the “first aid.” Nathaniel Dodson of Tutvid demonstrates another unconventional use of Lightroom – colorizing black and white images. He turns a black and white photo into color using only Adjustment Brush and the adjustments within this tool. So if Lightroom is your editing tool of choice – check out this tutorial.
For starters, right-click on the thumbnail and go to Create Virtual Copy. This way you have the version of the b/w photo saved in case you mess something up.
You’ll need only the Adjustment Brush here. Select the tool, and hit the Alt so the “Effect” turns to “Reset.” Click it so you are sure that all the adjustments are set to default. From here on, adding the color begins.
Select the color of the brush for the first area you want to colorize. Make sure that the Auto Masking is off, and start by dropping the pin on the selected area. From there, go on painting until you’re done.
In case you paint over the areas that should be in different color, you can remove the mistakes by changing the brush to “Erase” and then painting over these parts of the photo. For this, you can turn the Auto Masking on. Of course, zoom in to get the best possible results.
When you want to start painting another area, make sure to select “New” in the Adjustment Brush panel. This way you can choose another color, drop another pin to the new area and start coloring. From this point on, you more or less repeat the process. Paint the selected areas, and then remove any mistakes with the “Erase” brush.
When you are done adding colors to the selected areas, you can always add some additional adjustments such as contrast, saturation and so on. Also, if there’s a need to go back and make changes to any of the previous colors, just select the pin and apply the changes you want.
Of course, it would be ideal if you had a graphic tablet for the colorization work. But if you’re patient, you can go with the mouse as well.
There are useful shortcuts for increasing and decreasing the brush size. For making it larger, press “],” and for making it smaller, press “[“. This will make the process faster.
What you need to keep in mind when colorizing are the light, the shadows, and the weather. It depends on them what color and the overall tone will be in the photo, and you can learn more about it in this article.
This is Nathaniel’s final result:
Even though he made an effort to colorize the photo, he left out the face of the driver. Still, as he points out himself, this is more for the demonstration of Lightroom’s capabilities. Anyway, I found it pretty impressive that you can colorize photos in Lightroom. It’s still my favorite editing software (despite being slow sometimes), so I’ll give it a try one of these days, just for fun.