Colorizing black-and-white pictures has been a photographic
technique ever since the invention of film. Of course, back then,
each colored element was hand-painted onto the b&w print. Even
with the digital revolution, most colorizing is done with
painstaking and precise stylus painting, using programs such as
Adobe Photoshop or Corel Painter. Akvis Coloriage is an automated
colorizing tool that you can use to create some great effects by
simply squiggling lines and curves.
Coloriage’s interface is clean and comparatively easy to use,
once you understand the basics of the program. (The trial download
includes the option of a PDF manual that is very helpful in getting
you started.) The workspace is tabbed between the Before and After
views of your picture. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a
side-by-side option. All you do is use the Pencil tool and the
color palette to define areas that you want colored. Click on the
Process button, and voila!, you have a colorized photo.
The Color Library is divided into types of color, such as for
skin, eyes, wood, fabric and such, or you can choose your own
colors from the palette. The Deluxe and Business editions have also
added a new Multicolor pencil. Coloriage will work with color
photos as well as black and white, allowing you to change the
colors of specific objects, while defining areas where you want to
keep the original colors, using the Keep-color Pencil. In addition,
Coloriage can be used to color drawings and even individual
animation frames. Your strokes can be saved, which is useful when
you have a series of similar photos.
Various tools (beyond the eraser) allow you to change your mind.
For instance, the Tube redefines the color of a stroke, the Magic
Tube recolors all strokes of the same color, and the Recolor Brush
applies transparent hues to the After image. So, you can flip
between the Before and After windows, editing your strokes, until
you’re satisfied with the results.
Coloriage opens and saves TIFF, BMP, JPEG, and PNG files. The
plug-in is now compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit Adobe
Photoshop, as well as Adobe Photoshop Elements 8. Unfortunately, in
the standalone version, you can’t access files on a network; it
works only on photos available to the local computer.
Akvis Coloriage does a nice job of automating colorizing.
Although it takes some back and forth editing to perfect your work,
it is an easy program to master and the results can be quite
Note: The price given here is for the Home
plug-in or Home standalone version. The Home Deluxe ($121) and the
Business ($246) licenses provide both the standalone and the
plug-in. Each time you start up the Trial version, it gives you the
option of testing the Home standalone, Deluxe, or Business
–Sally Wiener Grotta & Daniel Grotta