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

Last Updated on November 26, 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 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 a vibrant-colored one. Photoshop has an update for Neural Filters with AI algorithms in 2023. What else’s? When you need to learn more about the other methods to colorize black and white photos, you can find the answer in 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 with the Neural Filter algorithm, which is also known as Adobe Sensi. It enables you to recognize the black-and-white photo and automatically figure out which colors to use. Compared to the previous versions, it should be quite easy to restore the old images.

How to colorize Black and White Photos with Photoshop via AI

Step 1: Make sure you have already login the Photoshop Cloud service and download the Colorize option for the Neural Filters menu to Photoshop. You can click the File menu and choose the Open option to import a photo into the program.

Import BW Photos to Photoshop

Step 2: Click the background layer and choose the Duplicate Layer option to have another copy. Choose the duplicated layer and click the Image menu, select the Desaturation option from Adjustment to turn the photo into a black-and-white one beforehand.

Desaturation Adjustment Photoshop

Step 3: To color the black and white photo, you have to make sure the photo is in GRB/8 bit mode. Click the Image menu and choose the RGB Color option and the 8 Bits/Channel option to save the photo. After that, you can have another copy for the layer.

Save in RGB Mode Photoshop

Step 4: Go to the Edit menu and choose the Fade Auto Contrast option. Here you can adjust the slider for the Opacity menu, in which you can set the value as 80% or 100%. It enables you to make a better-colorized photo by the fading effect.

Fade Opacity Photoshop

Step 5: Click the Filter menu and choose the Neural Filters option. After that, you can enable the Colorize option to color the B/W photo automatically in a period of time. After that, you can adjust the saturation, cyan, magenta, and more parameters before saving.

Color BW Photo Photoshop AI

How to colorize Black and White Photos with Photoshop (without AI)

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

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 need to add some tone colors to black and white photos, WidsMob AI Retoucher should be 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 others to get a colored photo within clicks. It enables you to add vignettes, fisheyes, and other LOMO effects. Moreover, there are some advanced AI algorithms to convert photos into sketches, cartoons, and paintings.

  1. Tweak the saturation, contrast, temperature, brightness, and others.
  2. Colorize the black and white photo with red, green, blue, opacity, etc.
  3. Touch up portrait images, reduce photo noise and apply LOMO filters.
  4. Apply AI cartoon, AI portrait, AI style transfer, AI face mosaic, and more.
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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. Of course, you can drag-n-drop multiple photos for a batch process.

Import Photos Retoucher

Step 2: Go to the Adjust menu and choose the Color Adjustment menu. It enables you to tweak the tone colors for red, green, blue, opacity, vignette, and others. When you get a satisfactory tone color, you can adjust the multiple sliders to achieve the desired effect.

Color Tone WidsMob Retoucher

Step 3: To turn the black and white photo into a colorful painting, you can also choose the AI Style Transfer menu and choose the desired painting style. It not only colorizes the black and white photo but also makes it into a painting automatically with AI algorithms.

Colorize BW to Painting Retoucher

Step 4: Moreover, you can also the Filters menu to further edit the photos or turn the photo into a cartoon with the AI Cartoonization menu. When you get everything done, you can simply click the Save As button to save the colorized black-and-white image.

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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. WidsMob Retoucher is a simple way that not only adds tone colors to photos but also converts a B/W photo into a color painting. If you want to colorize the B&W photo with different colors or use the latest AI algorithm, Photoshop is the optimal choice.

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