Before Photoshop and other photo editing programs, artists had to use watercolorrs, oils, crayons or pastels, and other paints or dyes applied to the image surface using brushes, fingers, cotton swabs or airbrushes, to colorize black and white photos. Thanks to the digital age, the process has become a whole lot easier, and more elegant to boot. Continue reading to see twenty-four more stunning colorized B&W photos.

By the 1950s, the availability of colour film all but stopped the production of hand-coloured photographs. The upsurge in popularity of antiques and collectibles in the 1960s, however, increased interest in hand-coloured photographs. Since about 1970 there has been something of a revival of hand-colouring, as seen in the work of such artist-photographers as Elizabeth Lennard, Jan Saudek, Kathy Vargas, and Rita Dibert. Robert Rauschenberg’s and others’ use of combined photographic and painting media in their art represents a precursor to this revival.

In spite of the availability of high-quality colour processes, hand-coloured photographs (often combined with sepia-toning) are still popular for aesthetic reasons and because the pigments used have great permanence. In many countries where colour film was rare or expensive, or where colour processing was unavailable, hand-colouring continued to be used and sometimes preferred into the 1980s. More recently, digital image processing has been used – particularly in advertising – to recreate the appearance and effects of hand-colouring. Colourisation is now available to the amateur photographer using image manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop.

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