How to colorize black and white photos [Best Tools]

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
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  • Restoring black and white photos to a colorized state is most often a simple matter of guesswork, but it can breathe new life into a photo.
  • There are plenty of image editing tools out there that can do this job, but some are more efficient than others.
  • For example, Adobe Photoshop is perfect for this job, as you can see from the tutorial below.
  • For more detailed articles, check out our Graphic and Design page.
colorize black and white photos

Do you have an old album of black and white photos you would like to bring back to life? Are you unsatisfied with the color pattern of a photo(s) in your gallery?

This article will help you out. Here, we’ll be reviewing five of the best photo colorizing software in the market.

Photo colorization is a photo manipulation method, designed to alter the natural color pattern of a photograph. This process basically applies to black and white photos, which can easily be colorized into any color pattern.

To do this, a photo colorizing software is often employed to apply color strokes to such photo, and then finish up the color-editing process, automatically.

Furthermore, you are afforded the opportunity to change, remove and/or replace any type or pattern of color on a photo i.e. recolor such photo as you see fit.

This photo manipulation process is one of the most widely used techniques in graphics design and photography. As such, photo-colorizers are always in high demand.

However, not all photo manipulation tools are photo colorizers, and not all photo colorizers are of standard. Hence, getting a standard photo colorizing software could be herculean at times.

Therefore, to facilitate your decision making on which colorizer is most suitable for you, we have outlined five of the best photo colorizing software available.

Best photo colorizing software for Windows 10

Adobe PhotoShop

Photoshop, from Adobe, is a multipurpose image manipulation tool, which is widely used by millions of professional (and amateur) photographers and creative artists across the globe.

One of the key functions of Photoshop is photo colorization; hence, it is arguably one of the best photo colorizing software out there.

Adobe Photoshop is supported on both Mac and Windows operating systems, and it is designed to perform at optimum capacity on modern Windows versions.

Photoshop, though easy to use, requires a certain level of photoshopping or photo-editing skill to use the color management features of the software.

Some of these features include the color wheel, color replacement, eraser, paintbrush, and color plug-ins among others.

Other photo manipulation features of Photoshop include:

  • Marquee
  • Lasso
  • Magic wand
  • Video editing
  • Slicing tools
  • Image cropping
  • Frame tools
  • Symmetry mode
  • Drag & drop
  • Multilingual support (26+ languages)
  • Cloud storage (up to 1TB)

How do I colorize black and white photos in Photoshop?

  1. First of all, download Photoshop free here and then install it.
  2. Open the image in Photoshop
  3. Convert it to Smart Object and start by removing the scratches and dust.
    • Go to Filter,  select Noise, and then Dust and scratches
      • Set the radius to 1-2 pixels and threshold to 20-30 levels
    • Any scratches and specks of dust left can later be cloned out manually
  4. Add a Levels adjustment layer to fix the contrast
    • You’ll need to darken the shadows a lot for this procedure.
    • Note: If you’re working with a sepia image, add a Black & White adjustment layer to neutralize the tones.
  5. Go to Image
  6. Select Mode and choose CMYK Color
  7. Add a new Solid Color adjustment layer in the approximate hue of the area you’re working on.
  8. Select the layer mask next to the Solid Color adjustment layer
  9. Fill the layer with black to clear the color overlay
  10. Choose a brush tool
  11. Adjust the size and hardness according to your needs.
  12. Now you will need to choose the color of the brush depending on your needs:
    • Choose the white color for the brush and start painting over the areas where you want the color to show.
    • Change the brush to black to remove the color from unwanted areas or to fix any mistakes.
  13. Tweak the image by doing some of the following:
    • Add a Color or a Saturation adjustment layer on top of the layer stack, to adjust the vibrancy to the image.
    • Add a Color Balance adjustment layer to correct the overall tone of the image.

Normally, Adobe Photoshop is a subscription-based product, but you can now try it for 7-days for free, along with all other Adobe products included in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite.

Download Adobe Photoshop free

AKVIS Coloriage

AKVIS Coloriage best photo colorizing softwareAKVIS Coloriage is a top-rated colorizing software, which is optimized to provide natural-looking colors to black and white photos. In the same vein, colored photographs can also be redesigned by adding, removing or overhauling the color pattern of the photos.

This software is cross-compatible with Macbook and Windows operating systems. For Windows OS, the software is supported on all versions between Win7 and Win 10 (both 32-bit and 64-bit inclusive).

AKVIS Coloriage hosts an intuitive user interface, which requires no form of layering or complex color management skill to use. Typically, everything is set, executed and finished within a few brush strokes in minutes.

Basically, with Coloriage, you can add color to black and white photos, remove the color from colored photographs, add color to sketches, desaturate color patterns on photos, recolor fading pictures and so on.

Other notable features of AKVIS Coloriage include: multicolor mode, auto-colorization, color library, multi-format support (PNG, JPEG, TIFF, RAW, PSD and more), multilingual interface and helplines (9 languages), GPU acceleration, large format print, color print, IPTC & EXIF support, recolor brush, photo share, comprehensive online guide, free trial and more.

AKVIS Coloriage is offered in four license editions: Home Plug-in ($75), Home Stand-alone ($75), Home Deluxe Plugin + Standalone ($90) and Business Plug-in + Standalone ($199).

All plans are subject to an initial trial period of 10 days, before full purchase.

 Buy now AKVIS Coloriage

CODIJY

CODIJY best photo colorizing softwareCODIJY is a special-purpose photo colorizing software, specially designed for Windows and Mac computers. The software is supported on all four modern Windows versions; Windows 7/8/8.1/10.

This software is equipped to colorize plain – black and white – photos, and also recolor the color-pattern of any photo.

Basically, this makes the software a very essential tool, as it can easily be employed to add life and aesthetic values to vintage photos.

As a result of this, it is one of the most widely used tools, by creative artists or graphic designers, to create near-perfect manipulated (photoshopped) images/photos.

Furthermore, CODIJY comes with a superbly intuitive interface, which, unlike other top photo colorizing/manipulation software, is fairly easy to navigate for anyone with basic photographic/graphic designing skills.

To further improve its ease of usage, there is a comprehensive user guide on their website, designed to facilitate navigation on the platform.

Other key features of CODIJY include: color removal/addition, advanced auto-colorization, color picker, preview mode, channel-by-channel photo palettes, 32 color libraries, color reversal (to black & white), live gradient capturing, multi-color gradient, 3-step photo coloring, repaint options, multi-format image support (PNG, TIFF, JPEG etc.) and many more.

CODIJY’s professional edition is available at a starting price of $59.99. There is also an initial 15-day free trial on offer, to new users.

 Get CODIJY Photo Colorization Software

 Get Trial Version

BlackMagic

BlackMagic best photo colorizing softwareBlackMagic is a popular photo colorizing software, which is specially designed to run on a wide range of Windows PC, from the old Windows 98SE to the latest Windows 10.

The software, like other colorizing tools, is basically built to add color and vigor to black and white photos. However, it can also add/remove colors from colored pictures.

Furthermore, BlackMagic is the perfect tool to recolor fading or inappropriately colored photographs. One unique feature of BlackMagic is the “TimeBrush RLC” technology, which is an advanced system built and incorporated on BlackMagic to colorized motion pictures (videos) that are originally in white & black format.

Other features of BlackMagic include: paintbrush, color picker, custom palettes, pressure damper, layered mode, shape selector, Windows BMP & JPEG support, RGB Tuning, Magic Touch-point, unlimited processing resolution, eraser, greyscale modifier, tool and hue, RealLife color palettes, dynamic parameterization, high resolution prints, email support and many more.

BlackMagic is available in three pricing variants, which include:

  • Professional Edition: $199
  • Business Edition: $99
  • Home Edition: $49

In addition, there is a free trial version for new users, prior to full package purchase.

 Download BlackMagic

Photo colorization is one of the most important photos of manipulation techniques today. With the advent of this technique, old – vintage – photos can now be brought back to life with near-perfect coloring. In the same vein, you can easily recolor any photo to suit your need and/or desires.

In essence, photo colorizing software is an essential tool in photography and graphics designing. And we have reviewed five of the best photo colorizing software for Windows PC.


FAQ: Learn more about colorizing black and white photos

  • How do I colorize a black and white photo?

First, you need to remove the dust and scratches, then you will need to adjust the photo contrasts and hues, and then you will need to colorize several layer masks. This is part of the natural process of restoring old photos.

  • What are the best tools to colorize black and white photos?

There are plenty of image editors that can colorize black and white photos, the best of them being Adobe Photoshop.

  • Can I colorize black and white photos on my smartphone?

Yes, several developers, such as Adobe, also have mobile versions of their PC programs, and this goes for Adobe Photoshop as well.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in August 2019 and was revamped and updated in October 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.