I did this colorization just a few days after my Jean Harlow colorization. I’m not sure where the original photo came from, but the project was requested by a user on Reddit. A photo from the 1800’s provides a unique challenge in comparison to one from the early to mid 1900’s. Admittedly, a fairly easy challenge to work past, but a challenge nonetheless. Unlike more modern photography, early photographs frequently aren’t actually black and white. For a variety of reasons that I’ll try to cover in another post, many early photographs are brown, red or even purple hued. This makes immediately coloring the photograph difficult, so the first step in coloring these early pictures is to actually strip the existing colors so that we’re working with a true black and white image.

Once I had the black and white image, I recolored using the method I learned for the Jean Harlow colorization. Compare this image to my first experiment, and you’ll see a notable difference in the colorization of fine lines. There’s now virtually no blurring, and I’ve even managed to do a fairly decent job on the subjects’ hair. While the colors I’ve chosen for this image are completely based on guesswork, I spent half an hour doing research on period-accurate colors for the clothing and upholstery before even attempting to color them. I’ve also added some tweaks to the white parts of the dress to accentuate the lace a little bit, and added a little highlighting to the rest of the dress to try to make the color look more natural.

I may not be an expert yet, but this image does a good job of demonstrating just how far I’ve come in a relatively short period of time! It’s a new week, so if I can find the time, I should have another learning experience to post shortly!

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