Portrait colorization technique

Tutorial with video instructions

This tutorial provides both written and video instructions on colorizing facial areas. You will learn to add masks to key facial zones using the predefined color palette. 

  1. Download and open the example file. 
  2. Navigate to the History window to access the palette.  

NOTE: This tutorial does not explain the use of tools and features. To explore colorization workflow in detail, please take a look at the Colorize a Portrait lesson and read how to enable the Instant Preview Mode first.  

natural Skin tones

Start with the skin highlights. They are quite distinctive and easy to follow. The nose, the temples and the chin always appear brighter than the other areas. Same applies to the hair line, the area above the upper lip and around the eyebrows. 

portrait first masks

Pick the first color and follow the suggested example. 

Next, apply the provided tones to the remaining areas. Numbers 2 & 3 will add a slightly pink accent to the nostrils and cheeks. When you finish, generate preview and look at the result.  

realistic eyes

Add two strokes of color (1) to the eye white. Then apply the primary color to the iris (2). Remember, that the iris of the human eye is the chaotic mixture of multiple colors. For this reason, if you add a few dots of yellow tone (you can meet such combination with this iris color quite so often) and circle them with the primary color, the eyes will look deeper and more realistic.   

In this part of the video tutorial we’ve enabled Instant Preview to demonstrate the result in the real time. It comes really useful, when you work on the small parts. 

natural Lips

The weather-beaten lips require more than one color. Add the dots or the tiny strokes of the pale tone (2) of the primary lip color (1) to reproduce this effect. Natural lips are critical for making your colorization realistic!  

Hair highlights

In most cases you will have to use an additional color to add a contrasting tone to the darker parts of the hair. Note that in this example the hue of the blond is different from the tone of the dark color. Try to keep to the dark and light areas precisely.   

the Background

Add three remaining colors to the background, as shown in the video. 

Generate preview. If you find any mistakes, add strokes wherever necessary. Keep in mind that the first impression comes from the whole image. Some occasional flaws will hardly be noticeable for a fresh eye.