How obsessive artists colorize old photos

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  • Published on:  Tuesday, May 30, 2017
  • Photo colorization artists use a combination of research, physics, and technology to digitally reconstruct history's black and white record.

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    Artist links:
    Jordan Lloyd (@jordanjlloydhq):
    Mads Madsen (@Madsmadsench):
    Marina Amaral (@marinamaral2):
    Dana Keller (@HistoryInColor):
    Patty Allison (@imbuedwithhues):

    The Paper Time Machine:

    Photo colorization isn’t just coloring within the lines — it requires meticulous research to make sure that every detail is historically accurate. The color of military uniforms, signs, vehicles, and world fashion spanning decades needs to be accounted for before even opening digital software like Photoshop. That means digging through sources like diaries, government records, old advertisements, and even consulting historical experts to get the colors right.

    But even after the arduous research, restoration, and blending of color, the image still isn’t finished. In order to achieve true photorealism, the physics of how light works in the atmosphere needs to be taken into account. Colors look different depending on the lighting conditions when the photo was taken, so artists rely on shadows and the location of light to make an educated guess about the time of day in a black-and-white photo.

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  • Vox
    Vox  2 years ago +670

    You can find more photos on the artists' pages. Check them out:

    Jordan Lloyd (@jordanjlloydhq):
    Mads Madsen (@Madsmadsench):
    Marina Amaral (@marinamaral2):
    Dana Keller (@HistoryInColor):
    Patty Allison (@imbuedwithhues):

    The Paper Time Machine:

  • Linen Gray
    Linen Gray  yesterday

    Arguments can be made for and against colourization. I think the colourized versions give more context for certain age groups. Those of us who grew up with both the real thing and b&w photos can make the leap in our minds. However, that does not mean that the artists are not contributing to modern understanding of history. B&W tends to make things feel less real to the modern world that has grown up with everything in colour. Not to forget that we have been fed colourized photos, deep space telescopic pictures, for years.

  • The autistic Artist

    So..... just really good painters?

  • Henry Herreman
    Henry Herreman  6 days ago

    I wish I could do things. Sadly I'm too poor for Photoshop

  • Cape King2233
    Cape King2233  7 days ago +1


    Am I the only one that has seen that face tatoo somewhere before

  • bert fromarketin
    bert fromarketin  7 days ago

    Haven't pressed play yet...was just having a convo with the homie Randy out in L.A about 4 color seperators and photography...pressing play

  • Meghana Kankara
    Meghana Kankara  7 days ago

    such amazing content. thank you so much to the people of VOX !!

  • I already ate your bread

    It’s definetly not something incredible tho.. if you have adobe photoshop nothing is impossible.

  • Xynnful
    Xynnful  7 days ago

    Now to colourize old videos

  • Chloe McKeon
    Chloe McKeon  14 days ago +1

    Nah, the world was in black and white back then

  • FinalLugiaGuardian

    I have seen an actual old color photos that looked very much like these recolors. Sometimes you cannot tell.

  • fallenblxssxms
    fallenblxssxms  14 days ago

    This is awesome, it’s like, you’d think back then everything was actually black, but when you see these, it’s more like today. It’s awesome. It’s like another world.

  • greg cooke
    greg cooke  14 days ago


  • jackawackamoo
    jackawackamoo  21 days ago

    What about the statue of liberty

  • Jaden Consterk
    Jaden Consterk  21 days ago

    Next: Make a Colorized Video

  • Silviu Teodorescu
    Silviu Teodorescu  21 days ago

    2:17 Am I the only actuall Romanian here?! 😂😂😂

  • B NY
    B NY  21 days ago

    i loved every single image, it really does make me feel like i've seen someone like them on the street or something... i hope they keep doing it and uploading images. i love it!!!!

  • Tom Cat
    Tom Cat  21 days ago

    adults always think that coloring books is children's things. wait until they saw this

  • Kayleen South
    Kayleen South  21 days ago

    Wow, I totally thought they added color by knowing what shade of grey or white the color is shown on a black and white photo. Not far fetched but it’s way more complicated than previously thought.

  • Akuku Christian
    Akuku Christian  28 days ago

    amazing works