People sometimes ask me about my photo manipulations – how much of them is real, & how much is digital trickery. I thought I’d post a few before & after pics…I don’t know about you, but I find them interesting to look at.
Firstly is the original photo I used for Gone to Earth: Plate One. As you can see, I even gave the poor boy a new face!
Although photo manipulation, retouch & restoration aren’t my main line of work, I still do some commissions from time to time, & also like to do them sometimes just for enjoyment. I find restoration very relaxing…kind of like unravelling a big ball of tangled string (but rather more creative!), you can zone out & just lose yourself in the painstaking detail of the task.
It’s incredibly difficult to colourise a B & W photo convincingly. Sometimes you want that flat, over-painted look that has a kind of retro quirkiness, but other times you might want to bring the photo to life in a more realistic way. Skin tones are particularly hard to do. No one’s skin is uniformly one colour, you have to add those subtle variations like a little redness on the nose & maybe blueish shadows under the eyes.
A friend of mine bought a cardboard folder full of glamour photos from the 1940s & I had a lot of fun messing with them. As you can see from this example, the original has degraded with time; the mid-tones & shadows are quite flat. I’ve tried to freshen it up, not only with colour, but also bringing back some dimension with tonal adjustments, & painting in some highlights. Her face & arm are quite flat in the original so I’ve rounded them out in the colourised version with some airbrushing. The hair is still pretty flat & there was not much I could do to bring back the lost detail. I’ve added a few subtle highlights, but I didn’t want to overwork it & make it look too painted.