Masterclass in Photo Colorization

Carmen Miranda


Vera Zvereva, CODIJY Team

Explore different colorization styles, with this easy exercise in colorizing the portrait of Carmen Miranda, the Brazilian singer who made a successful career in Hollywood thanks to her incredible talent and unmatched colorful style.  

this tutorial requires

In this session you will learn a simple technique for coloring a female portrait. 

We will start colorization with the background and the clothes and then we will color the face of the actress.

Like any visual art form, colorization is a matter of personal preference and taste. At the end, we will ask you to experiment with the colors. We will show you how to  change the background and colors of the clothes to match your preferred color scheme.

Download the example file to follow the instructions of the lesson. We saved the color palette in the Document History.

Carmen Miranda in publicity photo for the American film Greenwich Village (1944). Source Wikipedia. 

Enable the Pen tool and open the Color History dialog box in the right panel. Use the Navigator to navigate and scale the image as you draw.

Let’s start with the background. Select the first color and add strokes to the light areas. Try to follow the border so the color doesn’t spread out.

Select the next color and outline the shadow. We’ll use a darker shade to make it look natural.

Outline the headpiece, the gloves and the dress with a tone close to black. Then let’s launch the Image Processing ( / Ctrl+R) to check the result. 

Draw masks of pale yellow on the gloves. For convenience, you can change the scale in the Navigator.

Let’s outline the light part of the dress.

Now move on to the face. Apply a base tone to the highlights of the face.

Then add a darker shade on the cheekbones and cheeks, above the eyes, on the shadows on the nose and on the neck . Try to keep up with our example.

Now it’s time to color the smile. Choose a lipstick color and apply it to the lips.

Next we”ll apply a pale pink tone on the row of teeth. But do not worry – they will sparkle with natural whiteness!

Now let’s add a darker, less saturated shade of pink to the tongue for contrast.

Moving on to the eyes. Apply dots of pale beige to the whites of the eyes.

Highlight the eyebrows with dark brown and look at the result.

If the color spreads on the neighboring areas, add a stroke in that spot.

Let’s finish the outfit. Add purple dots on the bow and glove.

Add the purple color along with the yellow that you used for gloves to the highlights on the headpiece and on the dress.

Even if you don’t manage to meticulously work out every detail – the overall impression of your work will be simply breathtaking.

Let’s proceed to the experiments.

Activate Group Repaint tool and click on the background stroke. Select a new background shade from the palette or from a color library.

Use the HSB Repaint tool to edit the shadow.

Activate Group Repaint again and play around with the hues of the highlights.

If the face becomes unnaturally yellow against the cold tones, use alternate tones. Copy those HEX values into the Color Picker

  • Tone for Facial Highlights – # cfbcbe
  • Tone for Facial Shadows –  # bea4a5 

Here are some examples of those different color schemes for the same photo. Which one do you favor?

We hope that this master class has helped you improve your portrait coloring skills and reflect on your own color preferences. We will be happy if you post your own version in our community or group. Should you have any questions, we’ll be happy to answer them!