Making portrait colorization is always rewarding. The first color strokes brings the people from the past back to life. The same happened with the portrait of a young lady in traditional Japanese suit – kimono.

Lady in Kimono Black and White Photograph

A faded photograph of a young lady

Lady in Kimono: Who Do We See at the Portrait

Who was the lady on the photograph?  What did she look like? We don’t have answers to these questions. Still, we can make a few guesses.

The young woman wears a crisp-new, expensive-looking kimono – the outlook of a lady belonging to an upper-class Japanese family.  We have no clues as for the colors of her kimono, the carpet she stand upon and the background. The good news we are free to pick the colors that should allow us to turn this photograph  into a spectacular colorization.

Picking on the Right Tool

As, our ultimate goal is to make the portrait look natural and realistic, we will need to reproduce live colors of the face and hair.

For this reason, the best quality will be possible with tools included into the  professional version of CODIJY photo colorization software. In particular, we will have to use the Gradient Capture tool, a special utility that will allow us capturing multiple colors and their transitions from the color photos.  Also, it will facilitate and speeds up the colorization process and help us focus on color experiments, and save time on composing adequate color combinations.

Selecting a Color Scheme

There is obviously one color choice we can make quite for certain – the woman’s skin tone. As most of upper class ladies in the beginning of the past century, our heroine should have protected her skin from the sun to retain pale, milky-white tone.

So the skin tone will become our starting point and then we will make color choices that should be in harmony with it, resorting to “cold” color scheme.

Lady in Kimono: Filling the Face with Live Colors

Lets start with colorizing the face. As we have already concluded the face should have the milk-white tone, yet the cheeks should obviously flush, since the girl was obviously excited about upcoming photo shots.

Color history andcapturing live gradients in CODIJY Photo colorization software.

Picking natural multi color transitions from a color photo and with the use of color history in CODIJY Photo colorization app.

As you can see we have run a number of experiments. The first challenge was to find the picture to for capturing colors, the second – to pick the tone that would return an impeccable skin. Finally, we cam up with the lightest color tone on the forehead of the model that provided the milky-look we  have been searching for.

We have been lucky to capture outstanding color combinations for cheeks, lips and even hair. The only challenge was to capture the brightest colors that finally converted to an extremely natural picture.

Since the skin was totally pale, converting the color of the  eye-whites to grayscale with De-color pen returned a perfect live result.  Without switching we have outlined the white collar to convert the originally yellowish color into pure white and add it a fresh new look.

Adding Colors to Clothes and Picking the Background Color.

As we said before, we are absolutely free in colorizing the clothes, on condition that its colors should remain in harmony with entire photograph.

Even though the kimono looks very complex from the first glance, colorizing it with CODIJY was a breeze! We used four colors, one for the dressing gown, the other of the main tone of the belt, a tone for large flowers and the light green for the thin belt. As you see, we just made a few outlines to apply all these colors in a moment and obtain such fascinating look in the end.


The picking of the background tone was the last challenge. Since the background should not interfere or cast any shadows, underlining the youth and beauty of our heroine.

After trying various colors the cold gray tone finally worked the best!

Lady in Kimono