Digital painters do it all the time, so why shouldn’t you as a digital photographer use the technique of coloring your images manually as well? Sure, Photoshop lets you change the color of your pictures with several image adjustment options already. But by coloring your photos with the paint brush tool you have the absolute freedom to do whatever you want–just color your pictures as you like and get results that even the best Photoshop preset cannot create. Nothing can stop your creativity. And the best thing is: it’s so easy.
1. Open the picture you want to color and desaturate it (because you can only color a greyscale image). In Photoshop, click on Image > Adjustments > Desaturate or press Shift+Ctrl+U.
2. Create a new layer by pressing Shift+Ctrl+N and set the layer blending mode to “Overlay”.
3. Now select the brush tool and color of your choice and start painting over the image. You will see that only the filled pixels are colored (depending on their brightness) while totally black and white pixels stay black and white.
4. If you have huge black or white areas and want to color them as well, you have to give them some color information first (black and white are not regarded as colors). You can do so by adjusting the levels (press Ctrl+L) and moving the black and white arrows just below the histogram. Moving the black arrow more to the right will change the black parts to a dark grey tone, while moving the white arrow to the left will change the white parts to a bright grey tone. Now your new grey areas are ready for being colored as well.
5. Let your creativity flow and try other layer blending modes as well. If “Overlay” is not enough for you, you could try “Color Burn.” Or try something totally different–with “Difference” as in the picture below. Try different opacity settings for the colored layer and different brushes. As I said above, nothing can hold you back from the total coloring madness. And don’t forget to play around with the layer opacity setting if you prefer more subtle colors.
6. If you’re not satisfied with the colored image, just delete the layer you created in step 2 and start over by creating a new one with Ctrl+Shift+N.