I have some black and white photos from my wedding and I want to add some colour to them.

There is this paper from 2005 that allows you to recolour image by just painting stripes.

There is a standalone implementation here although it wasn't that great.

And Recolored allows you to just roughly choose your selection then it uses some algorithm for edge detection to make the correct selection. Although there is a 21-day trial, I have not been able to contact the authors.

Are there any other applications that can recolour in such a straightforward way (i.e. the software does edge detection instead of you having to spend ages selecting the regions manually).

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    Arkvis Coloriage seems to be pretty close to the original paper, though you do need to be a little closer to the edges of regions (not exact, just close). Not free ($75/£57) and Mac & Windows only (no *nix version), but it's plug-in (8BF) + standalone. – user28116 Jun 23 '14 at 22:15
  • "Is there software that can do this?" is probably off-topic here. "How can I do this (with automatic software or otherwise)?" would be on-topic. You might try beta site Software Recommendations Stack Exchange.... – mattdm Jun 24 '14 at 2:17
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    There's a Gimp plugin written in C for the 2005 Colorization Using Optimization paper by Levin, Lischinski, and Weiss you mention, but installing requires some skills (needs compilation): github.com/ashleyh/colorize-gimp I also once wrote a crude implementation of this colorization method in Python, it works standalone, but requires some optimization as it currently is rather slow... github.com/godfatherofpolka/… (but if someone feels like it, it should be relatively easy to turn it into a Gimp plugin) – godfatherofpolka Oct 8 '14 at 14:15

I am just adding my two cents to the general question of colorization. Though it reads like you are looking for a technique or program to add color similar to how old movies are being colorized.

Personally, when I want to add color to monochromatic, I do the modern equivalent of hand-tinting. Pretty simple process; using Photoshop create a transparent layer. Set the layer to soft light, this will provide a look close to historic hand-tinted pictures (the color tones resemble a hand-tinted cabinet card I have). I found paint effect brushes (water-color, oil) provide the best look.

I do not tint everything . . . sort of defeats the purpose of shooting B & W. The question I ask myself is what element(s) on this image do I want the viewer to be drawn to? Choose wisely because the color part will be the first thing the viewer will notice. As such the rest will be perceived as part of the background.


Photoshop's "Quick Selection" tool uses edge-detection to help you quickly produce a selection by roughly running along the edges you want to define your area. Use the smallest diameter that allows you to work comfortably, and fine-tune the threshold setting of the tool as necessary. Once you have the selection you want, a wide range of techniques are at your disposal.


As stated by Ruief it is possible to use Photoshop to perform the requested actions. There are really good tutorials on how to quick select with Edge detection. Including how to detect difficult areas. A great example is show in the next video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XVATypXio0

Otherwise just buy the Recolored tool. For $29 it is worth the money.

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