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How to Convert a Black and White Photo to Color

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Black and White to Color

Black and white photos have their own vintage appeal, and can take you back in time to a world where everything was much simpler than it is now. However, if you have a family photograph that you would rather have in full color and not B/W, sticking to the old faded picture can be a bit boring. Following are a few steps used by photo editing companies to turn black and white photos into color ones. You will need Adobe Photoshop CS6 or CS5 (CS3 and CS4 would have a different UI) and a working computer.


  • Open Photoshop, and drag and drop the black and white photograph into the program.
  • Check the image mode and set it to CMYK Color, and then confirm the action. This is where cyan, magenta, yellow, and black colors are mixed to form a range of colors.
  • Make a copy of the original photo by pressing Ctrl + J. This will create a new layer.
  • Hit Alt and press the camera key in the History panel to get a snapshot of the current layer. If you cannot find the History panel as such, go to Window, and choose Merged Layers from the drop down window.
  • Go to the Channels panel and choose the Cyan Navigate to Adjustments under Image, and then choose Brightness/Contrast. Set Brightness to 85 and Contrast to 25.
  • Get another snapshot of the current layer with the Alt and camera key combo.
  • Go to the Adjustments panel, select Color/ Balance, and then set the as follows: Cyan to 100, Magenta to -100, and Yellow to 20. Now take another snapshot of the current layer.

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  • Open up the Color/ Balance section once more and reset the parameters as follows: Cyan to -80, Magenta to 85, and Yellow to -95. Take another snapshot.
  • Check the boxes before Snapshot 2 and choose Snapshot 3.
  • Choose an appropriate brush for tinting the skin of the object. Check the box next to Snapshot 4 and use this image as the source to tint the hair of the object.
  • Check the box next to Snapshot 3 and use that to tint the lips and cheeks. Use a small brush of Size 20 and 70% Opacity. Use something like Size 100 and 50% Opacity for the cheeks.
  • Bring up the Hue/Saturation window and change Saturation to 30.

You have now successfully completed the conversion of a black and white image to full color. When done, save the picture as a file onto your hard disk.