Photo Tinting - Four Ways to Achive the Vintage
Photo tinting adds soft, otherworldly colors to a
white photo or illustration, and can lend
an antique feel to even the most modern subjects. The
subtle colors can add a
life-like blush to the cheeks of a child, or draw attention to a single
element, like a bride's bouquet or a sunset sky. Whether you are
incorporating a photo into a craft or composing a scrapbook page,
consider using this effective technique for making your images special.
art of photo tinting began in the 1840s, when artists first brushed
colored oils on sepia-toned daguerreotypes (an early photographic
method) for a touch of realism. Most often, coloring was limited to a
little pink on the lips and cheeks. The more artistic tinters would
color hair, clothing, flowers, and even add metallic highlights for
buttons or jewelry. Many of these early tinting artists were applying
skills from the preceding era, when miniature likenesses were
hand-painted on ivory. Today, tinting photography is an art rarely
practiced by hand, but more often as a digital enhancement technique
found in some computer graphics programs.
You can tint your own black and white photos or
illustrations in several ways.
Purchase photo tinting pens or markers
at your craft store. They are made in many color shades and several tip
sizes. Most work best with matte finished images. Go lightly and let it
dry before inking over the same spot, since getting the paper too
saturated may blemish the photo.
Photo-tinting oils can
be applied with a brush or cotton swab. For this method, you should
spray the photo surface with a matte-finish protective coating first.
The colored oils have a long drying time, so it is possible to blot or
even wipe off excess color as you work. Let these photos dry for
several days before handling them.
Watercolors, oil pastels and oil
can be used to add subtle color. With watercolors, some tinters
recommend soaking the photo paper in water for 15 minutes, then
blotting it dry before you brush on watercolor paint. This allows the
paint to be absorbed into the paper rather than sit on the surface,
making a softer shade. Oil pastels are most effective when you saturate
the area to be colored with a solvent (turpentine or mineral spirits)
before you apply the pastel with a cotton swab, cotton ball or brush.
If the image is very detailed, you can use oil-based colored pencils,
using the same solvent method as for pastels. Always apply lightly at
first to control the color intensity.
For digital images, use your computer
(like Adobe Photoshop or Corel PaintShopPro) to add color. You can even
start with a color photo, duplicate the photo as a second layer, change
the top layer to black and white (desaturate the color), and then
selectively erase the top layer where you want the original color layer
to show through. Alternatively, you can turn your original image to
black and white (desaturate the color) and then colorize elements in
your photo using the colorfill or brush tools in the graphics program.
You will have to create a new layer for each color you add.
altering photos, protect your original and work with a copy. With any
of these methods or products, follow the manufacturer's labeling and
instructions. You'll be rewarded with a photographic effect both
nostalgic and beautiful.
For an example of hand-tinting a black and white illustration, see our Wedding