Color Black and White Photos – 5 Methods to Get a Stunning Result You Should Know

Last Updated on March 12, 2022 by Peter Wood

Whether you need to restore an old image, or just need to create a visual impact, adding colors to a black and white photo is not an easy task. What should be the best methods to color black and white photos? If you want to get the detailed processes, here is the information you should know from the article.

Of course, Photoshop is one of the most professional methods to turn a boring black and white photo into vibrant colored ones. What else’s? When you need to learn more about the other methods to colorize the black and white photos, you can find the answer from the article now.

Color Black and White Photos

Part 1: How to Colorize a Black and White Photo via Photoshop

Photoshop is the professional method to colorize black & white photos. To make the photo special, you have to paint one part of the image to create a focal point. Compared to the simple solutions to add color to a black and white photo within one click. It should be a very complicated process for you to make the B&W photo colorful.

Find the RGB Channel for A Black and White Photo

Step 1: Launch Photoshop and import the photo you want to colorize. Once you import the photo, you should know a black and white image with a good range of values from darkest black to pure white.

Step 2: Go to the Image menu and choose the Mode option. Select the RGB Color option. You can use the most vibrant colors in the part. Then select the area of B&W that you would like to colorize.

Step 3: Double click the Quick Mask button to apply the color mask to the B&W photos. Under Color Indicates, you can choose the Selected Areas. And then press the OK button.

Photoshop Quick Mask

Add Color to the Black and White Photo

Step 4: Choose the Paintbrush button on the toolbar. You can paint over the area that you want to add color to the black and white photo. Just be patient to draw the color to the B&W photos.

Step 5: At the time, you still not coloring the photos, you have to choose the Quick Mask again to turn to the Normal mode, and then you can find the area that you just fill-in with the color that you have selected.

Step 6: Click the Layer menu and choose the Color Balance option from the New Adjustment Layer option to add some color to your selection. Once click the first dialog box, the following color slider will appear.

Step 7: There are other areas that you want to colorize, just repeat the previous steps on a new section. You can add different colors to the B&W photo.

Color Balance Photoshop

Part 2: How to Color a Black and White Photo with GIMP

Apple has an integrated photo editor on Mac OS X. However, Photos and Preview are not able to colorize black and white photos. Instead, GIMP is the free and open-source photo editor, which you can color a black and white photo with ease. Just learn more details as below.

Step 1: Open GIMP on your computer, go to the File menu to click the Open option to load the black and white image. Navigate to the Image menu to select the Mode option and switch to RGB mode. Locate to Layers window and add a layer to each color.

Step 2: Locate to the Layers panel and switch to the Multiply mode. Open the color palette and select a color for the first layer. Click on the Add New Layer icon in the Layers panel and fill the layer with the foreground color.

Note: When you need to add other desired color layers, you can simply repeat the step above.

Step 3: Select each layer, go to the Layer menu to choose the Mast option and the Add Layer Mask option to add a mask on each color layer. Fill with White color and set the transparency of layer mask to 30%.

Step 4: Draw on the color that extends beyond the area using the PaintBrush tool carefully. Set the color of PaintBrush to white and opacity to 100%. Repeat this step to remove the unwanted area on each color layer.

Step 5: Finally, click on the Save As option in the File menu to save the colorized black and white photos, you can also export the result as a commonly used image format.

Colorize Photo GIMP

Part 3: How to Apply Tone Colors to Black and White Photos

If you just need to add some special tone colors to black and white photos, WidsMob Retoucher is a nice choice. It provides some presets to add tone colors and enables you to apply more than 20 film profiles. Moreover, you can adjust the saturation, contrast, temperature, brightness, and more others to get a colored photo within clicks. Moreover, you can also use the vignette, fisheye, and other LOMO effects.

  1. Tweak the saturation, contrast, temperature, brightness, and more.
  2. Provide dozens of film pack effects, tone colors, and even presets.
  3. Touch up portrait images, reduce photo noise and apply LOMO filters.
  4. Color the black and white photos with different color filters and opacities.
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Step 1: Once you have installed WidsMob Retoucher, you can launch the program on your computer. Click the Import button to add the black and white photo to the program.

Import BW Photo to Retoucher

Step 2: Turn on the B/A mode to view the effect and go to the Effect menu to color the black and white photo. It provides the basic effect to get a color for the B&W photo.

Color BW Photo Effect

Step 3: Go to the Film Pack menu to select the desired film profile, tweak the contrast, film grain, and more others to apply some special color to the black and white photo.

Color BW Photo Film Pack

Step 4: Moreover, you can also choose the Adjustment menu to use the sliders to get a suitable color, especially for tint and temperature, click the Save As button to export the colored photos.

Color BW Photo Adjustment Win Download Mac Download

Part 4: How to Make a Black and White Photo Color Effect Online

If you prefer to use online utilities, Colorize Photo will be a good alternative tool to make your black and white photo colorful. Unlike desktop photo editors, this online photo editor allows you to draw color on a black and white photo directly.

Step 1: Visit in your browser and click on the Launch Web App button on the home page to open the editing page.

Step 2: Click the Open button at the upper left corner and upload the black and white photo you want to colorize from a local hard drive.

Step 3: Locate to the right panel and click on the camera icon to upload a colorful picture that contains the colors you want to add to the black and white photo.

Step 4: Click on the desired color on the color picture and then draw on an area of the black and white photo. Repeat the step above to make other areas color effect.

Step 5: You can click on the Save button on the top ribbon to download the output to your computer.

Colorizephoto Online

Part 5: How to Apply Color to Black and White Pictures on Smartphone

If you do not need to colorize the details of a black and white photo, Photo Splash FX is the desired color splash app to remove and change the colors of photos. When you need to create a visual impact effect, you can take it into consideration.

Step 1: Launch Photo Splash FX on your smartphone and open the black and white photo from Camera Roll or Photo Gallery.

Step 2: Tap on the Colorize option on the menu bar to open the editor screen, which enables you to apply color to a black and white photo.

Step 3: On the editor screen, tap on the Color Bar option and choose a color from the color palette. Then you can paint the color on the desired area. If you want to paint on a small area, you can adjust the Brush tool.

Step 4: Follow a similar process to colorize other areas. You can tap on the Back option to back to the interface. Tap on the Save/Share button to confirm changes.

Color Splash Screenshot

Part 6: Tips About Colorize Black and White Photos

It should be a difficult process to colorize the black and white photos if you need to optimize the details. You should have some tests to robust the photo. Just as mentioned, the professional solution changing the Color Balance sliders for each area again and again. You should pay special attention to the color differences. It requires you to keep tweaking the sliders until you get the balance you’re looking for.

Another important tip you should remember is to save the original photo before you begin. When you add color to a black and white photo, save every selection and save your project after you colorize each section. If you have messed up somewhere down the line, it’s a real pain to go back and re-do past sections of the photo.


When you want to add color to a black and white photo, you can find simple solutions as well as professional ones. The simple solution only adds one tone-color to the photo, or simply applies the color for the whole part instead of the details. If you want to colorize the B&W photo with different colors, Photoshop is the optimal choice.

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