Restoring the Hollywood

FEEL for glamour

by Chris Charles

Chris Charles, an extraordinary colorist from UK, has developed a “stereoscopic” method of restoring vintage images using “fictitious” colors from his imagination.

For many years Chris has been fascinated by images of movie stars. Working in the intimacy of his home in the UK, he is surrounded by magnificent works, dazzling us with their bold, intense colors.

Photos colorized by Chris Charles.

Chris uses an impressive technique: the movie stars in his colorized photos look like they’re about to step off the screen. When you look at them, you can’t help but be immersed in the glittering splendor of mid-century cinema!

Chris is a good friend of CODIJY. In one of our chats we asked him about his passion for colorization. Here we share his answer:

Having been a vintage film fan for many many years and seeing a plethora of b/w images and wanted them to be in color.

As with most colorists, Chris sees his color reconstruction work, as a way to preserve our history:

In that era color film was expensive and we are now in a position to preserve History in a technical and artistic way whilst maintaining quality.

However, unlike many, Chris has gone much further. In his creative endeavors, the colorist has developed a technique that allows him to animate photographs!

Stereoscopic Effect

Chris was obsessed with the fact that the photos of the time period lacked quality and the results looked flat. The colorist developed the ne technique by incorporating additional photographic software into colorization process done in CODIJY:

I color the image down to individual pixel if necessary in especially dubious areas like a blurred eyelash for example to get more definition.

Once the work on the details is done, Chris exports the result to an image file and does some correction work in the photo editor. 

After I have colored each image I then export the image into a layering program adding more depth and tints tones and correct things like bad exposure.

This is the way I keep the photographic look but with more depth.

Yet the colorist recognizes that the main burden of his work falls on the colorization tool:

However that is the gloss the coloring is key if I know it looks right in CODIJY the rest is to emphasize that to try and give a professional finish so each stage is as important to what I do as the other.

Imaginative Colors

Magazine color plates in the 40s and 50s were not to the standard of todays and CODIJY is more in tune with todays.

Next, Chris touches on another important issue that generates a lot of discussion among colorists: the use of fantasy vs. historically accurate colors. Here’s how he addresses this issue:

Yes, colorways used are fictitious mostly but it gives that life to the image and warmth.

Every colorist turns to one artistic medium or another. But true artists use color as a powerful tool that helps them manifest their ideas. Like the endless pursuit of perfect beauty that we see in the works of Chris Charles!

I used the word "fictitious" with the regard to colors as I do not use existing color images for reference. I only use b/w and convert them using imagination and with the Hollywood feel for glamour.