Colorization Tutorial #2 – Basic Coloring


* Disclaimer – This is an extremely basic tutorial to get you started. I will be posting more detailed tutorials along with videos in the near future. I expect to have the tutorial videos up by 2/15/2014.

 Alright, we have got all the boring stuff behind us and can get down to some actual coloring. If you haven’t yet, you’ll want to go back and read my brief tutorial HERE on prepwork and getting started.  I will not get into the more detailed aspects of colorizing yet, this will be a simple tutorial to get you started in the right direction. I will be posting several more tutorials going more in depth with Skintones, hair color, tips and tricks, etc.

  This is the image I will be working with, a young Angela Lansbury:



OK. So we have selected a pick solid color layer and made sure the blending mode is in SOFT LIGHT.  We are going to start with pink because I like to start with skin of the subject first.  I usually do it in this order.

Other objects or accessories

But that is just a personal preference.  

So lets press B to select our brush and then adjust the size we need in the top left. While adjusting the size, set your HARDNESS to zero as seen here.

 You wont have to do that everytime, photoshop will remember changing of the brush Hardness after doing it just once.

 Now color every inch of skin except for the eyes and lips with the pink color. You should end up with something like this.

** Quick Tip 1 – If you go outside of the line, no worries! Just press the E key on your keyboard and use the eraser tool (seen on the right) erase those mistakes. That’s one of the benefits of having each color in a separate layer.

** Quick Tip 2 – If you hold ALT and left click the black box in the layer selected you will get a creepy image like this. This shows you the areas you have not colored. 

 Now that she is bright pink lets adjust the opacity of the layer a bit. Opacity can be found in the layers menu here:

I brought it down to about 52%. We want the pink to be noticeable but very subtle, it gives the small glow underneath the other layers that will make the skin seem more lifelike. So now my image looks like this:


Lets add some color to those cheeks. click the NEW ADJUSTMENT LAYER ICON again and pick SOLID COLOR.

This time we are going to select a slightly darker color pink (more RED) for the blush and the areas where blood flows to the face more. I am using the color #e5293f for this layer, but feel free to find your own. Hit OK.


Now we need to left click the white box in the selected layer once:

and press CTRL + A + DELETE at the same time and change your blending mode to SOFT LIGHT in this new layer. Remember we will do this for EVERY layer.

Now this layer is our blood flow and blush and I like to place this color on the following:

Tip of the nose 
Around the eyes (very faint!)
Back of the arms
Ear lobes
Tips of the fingers .

I lower my BRUSH OPACITY on each item as blood flows differently to those areas and we also don’t want her looking like Rudolph.  You will find BRUSH OPACITY at the top of the page, but I will go into far greater detail when I do my tutorial on skintones. This tutorial is just to get you started. So now my image looks like this:

 Angie is looking like a clown now, so lets lower that opacity to about 36% and we get this :


Now lets do a new solid color adjustment layer with the color  #E5BA90 (Follow the steps above in regards to setting up a new color layer) and change the layer blending to SOFT LIGHT. Now color every bit of skin except for the eyes, that means include the lips this time. 

Ive lowered the opacity of the layer to 37% and now it looks like this:

Now lets get a deep red and color the lips. Start a new SOLID COLOR ADJUSTMENT LAYER (the same way we have every time) and change the layer blending to SOFT LIGHT. I used the color #B20A0E for the lips.

After lowering the opacity to 58% it now looks like this:


I know your thinking it is looking quite pale and not very colorful, but that’s what we want. Once you have finished coloring the image you can go back and adjust the opacity of each color layer separately to fine tune it. Then after that we will bring up the saturation of the picture bringing out the colors.I will go over post-adjustments in a separate tutorial.

Now we need to add a brown type color to the skin to give it a better hue. Create a new SOLID COLOR ADJUSTMENT LAYER and change the blending to soft light. I am using the color #4E2F0F. Lets color all the skin except eyes and lips.

After lowering the layer opacity to 62% my image looks like this :


Its a bit orange, but we will adjust it later.

For the most part you will continue to follow all the steps above until the image is colored. There are several more details I did not cover because they require me to go too far into depth. You wont always use soft light for every layer, but until you get comfortable, Its a great starting point.

aaaaaand here is my  finished product: 


And that my friends is the end of my basic coloring tutorial , I hope it helps you get started colorizing. I will be posting more tutorials that will be far more in depth and covering specific things like hair, eye color, etc. Thanks for reading!


All photo colorization found within Metacolor is completed by hand using a Wacom Graphic Tablet and Adobe Photoshop CC software. All website design, writing and photo colorization/restoration found within is the sole work of Wayne Degan.


  1. Lisa Markins
    February 6, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Great tutorials! I’ve been doing colorizations for years, and am always looking for ways to make them look more like a real color photo. Can’t wait to see some more of your tutorials! Your work is amazing. 🙂

    • MetaColor
      March 30, 2014 at 1:32 am

      Thank you! I have just completed redesigning the website so I plan on posting a lot more tutorials and colorizations.

  2. Craig Jeavons
    March 11, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks Wayne, that’s excellent and thanks for supplying the colour codes which not all of these tutorials do!

    • MetaColor
      March 30, 2014 at 1:31 am

      Your welcome! I hope to get some time together very soon and create more detailed tutorials.

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  5. David
    June 26, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Excellent tutorial! Thanks for the color codes, too!

  6. David
    August 6, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Wow! I have been working on restorations for 20 years now but have never really added major color and your technique is perfect for the non pro like myself. Thanks for your work. I am inspired, truly.

    • MetaColor
      August 6, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Thanks David! I am so glad you found my tutorial and advice useful. If you ever have any questions at all regarding technique, don’t hesitate to ask.

  7. Gerard
    July 2, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Hello Wayne,

    My compliments for your beautiful work! Do you have more tutorials online? If not, would you like to send me a link or a pdf from the other tutorials or can you tell me when i can expect the new tutorial(s) on the website?

    Thanks in advance! Regards from the Netherlands.


    • MetaColor
      July 7, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks Gerard! I have been meaning to post some new and more up-to-date tutorials with some accompanying video. Now that you have reminded me, I will work on them this weekend and try to get them posted next week. I will send you an email once I do so. Thanks for checking out my site and work.

      • Gerard
        August 17, 2015 at 10:56 am

        Hi Wayne,

        Sorry for my late reaction (holiday time ;-))
        Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you.


  8. Lee
    August 16, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Great tutorial, will try this when I get a day off. Do you do any Youtube tutorials?


    • MetaColor
      August 17, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Thanks! I began putting together a series of Youtube tutorials but never finished. Now that you have reminded me, I am going to finish them up this weekend. I will be sure to let you know once they are uploaded.

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