Masterclass in Colorization

Australian Soldier


Vera Zvereva, CODIJY Team

Refine your skills by colorizing this incredibly striking portrait of an unknown Australian infantry soldier from World War I.

this tutorial requires


You have undoubtedly seen this remarkable photograph of a handsome young soldier with a piercing gaze before. The portrait of an unknown Australian infantryman has become an iconic image of the WWI – the war that claimed lives of the millions of the young men.

There exists quite a few colorized versions of this image. Even though we strove to be faithful to the historical colors, it was equally important for us to colorize the portrait realistically and accurately.

We hope that this example will help you with colorization of the male portraits from your family photo album. 

Download the CODIJY document with the  image and the History of colors and colorize it following our instructions.

Unidentified First World War soldier in Australian service uniform. Source at Australian War Memorial. 

Get Prepared

Open the photo in your CODIJY application. Ensure the Pen tool, Libraries and  Navigator are enabled. If you want to colorize using pre-defined colors – open the History of Colors:

Add colors to the backdrop

->  Open the Photo Background library   

Start colorizing this photo with with drawing the backdrop masks. It’s quick and will allow you to better to evaluate the color result after you add the facial tones.     

Colorize the uniform

->  Open the Military Camouflage library   

Next colorize the hat and the ribbon. You can pick suggested toned from the document colors or select colors from our Camouflage color library.  Use an unsaturated tone to make the bottom of the hat brim visually deeper.

When you finish adding masks to several adjacent areas, generate the color result and check if the colors fill the related areas accurately. Note that it’s ok when the colors spread to the areas without color masks.  

Now, let’s proceed to the overcoat. Pick a tone that you previously used to colorize the hat. This color is bright, so we will apply it on the light areas of the collar and shoulders.  

We will pick a darker tone to colorize the shirt and emphasize various shadows of the coat. 

Pick a beige tone and apply it to the undershirt.

There are two small details left to colorize – the emblems and the hooks.

Zoom in the image in the Navigator on the right. Then choose a pale shade of yellow from the current library and apply it to the emblems on the collar. This tone will add the natural, realistic tone to the metal of the emblem. 

Next choose a shade of gray and draw a stroke over each hook. If the color from the badges and the hooks spreads out, circle them with the colors of the adjacent objects.

Add colors to the eyes

->  Open the Eyes: the White and Eyes: Iris libraries

We will start working on the face with the eyes. Add a tone of beige to the white part of the eye. You can add just a dot or two.

Next select a shade of gray as shown in the screenshot. In the color version, this tone will add the natural blue tint to the eyes.

Add facial tones

->  Open the Complexion: Pale library

If you take a good look at the photo, you can see traces of freckles. Assuming that the young man was fair-skinned, we will apply two tones – the lightest variant of pink for the nose and the facial highlights. A more saturated shade will let us recreate natural shadows. 

Choose the light tone and apply it to the nose, above the eyebrows, upper lip and on the chin. Try to follow the pattern of the masks as shown in the example. 

Now choose a saturated variant of the same shade and apply strokes under the eyes, to the ear lobes, sides of the nose and the lips (this tone will look quite natural as the lips are weather-beaten). Remember about the chin, neck, and the cheeks.

Here is the pattern to follow.

In the end we will draw several strokes of pale yellow to the borderline of the forehead and over the the cheekbones, as well as the eye-brows.  That’s ok to use the light tones over the dark objects, CODIJY will analyze the appropriate shade precisely.

As a final touch, we exported the color result to a JPEG image and processed it in a simple free photo editor, enhancing the contrast, overall color saturation, and slightly lowering the brightness.

We are confident you will find the result impressive with its vivid colors. But more importantly, when we look at this portrait in color, the drama of a whole generation of young people who went through the slaughterhouse of one of the most terrible wars in the history of mankind is felt even more keenly.