Guide to Hand Coloring

“This is beautiful”, she praised, “What color lab to you use?”
I avoided her question, answering, “That’s medium oil, not natural color”. Well, if she had a magnifying glass, she would have used it.

There are several problems inherent in trying to turn a black and white photograph into color. The color added to a normal image will look too dark and will also diminish the clarity of the highlights. White and cool colors are easy to produce on a black and white image, but warm colors appear subdued. The former problem is solved by printing the image two tones lighter than normal, but retaining the full spectrum of tones. If the latter problem is a concern, partial toning is recommended. In this process, the areas that will be cool colors is masked off with a waterproof removable medium, allowing only the to-be-warm areas to tone brown (sepia). The same effect can be done digitally.

A lightly textured surface is preferred like Ektalure G or Canvas, however, any luster surfaced paper will do. If an inkjet paper is used, use a heavy weight (90 lb.) matte surfaced paper. A protective coat of matte lacquer will be needed for color oil application. Apply Marshall’s Oils Flesh 2 to the lighter areas of the face and Flesh 3 to the shadow areas. Work from the center of the area using a ball of long fiber cotton. Blend and wipe until an even coat covers the skin. Lightly rub out the highlights with a fresh ball of cotton. Do not get any oil color on the other areas. If you do, go over the line, use extender to clean off the error. Clean out the eyes with extender on a cotton tipped stick and apply the eye color. Add a small dot of cheek to the corner of the eye and a little blue to the whites. A light coating of black suffices for the pupil. Clean out the highlights.

Apply cheek color using a patting motion. Delicately blend the color without removing the under layer of flesh. Apply lip color with a pint of cotton on a stick in a heavy layer. Wipe down with fresh cotton starting from the corner of the mouth toward the center. Use a pointed fresh cotton stick with extender to clean out the highlights. A soft ended stick without extender creates the nose highlights and a cotton ball the forehead, cheeks and chin.

Next, color the hair using blends of Verona Brown, Ochre, and Flesh2. The darker the hair, the more Verona Brow, the blonder the hair, use more ochre. Clean out the highlights only about 80%.

Add color to the background, blending carefully into the hair and overlapping into the clothing areas. Clean out and rub dry the areas of clothing that received some background color. Color the clothing last. If rich color is indicated, use the intense variety of Marshall’s Oils. Work quickly to achieve an even coat, wiping out the lighter areas with fresh cotton balls.