Do you want to add tone to a black and white photograph? Artificial intelligence is able to analyze a scene and restore highly probable colors. Here’s how to do it…
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[EN VIDÉO] Artificial intelligence that adjusts the angle at which the photo is taken Interactive point-based manipulation of the generative image collector. © DraGAN Project
It might seem that artificial intelligence is not particularly required when it comes to colorizing a black and white photograph. It is true that certain options seem easy to deduce. In a photograph taken in the great outdoors with beautiful lighting, it is more than likely that the sky is blue, that the grass is green, that the characters have skin tending towards beige… In reality, the intelligent colorization process is more complex than it seems.
A complex process
AI colorization applications have typically undergone extensive training: millions of color images have been compared to their black and white equivalent, with the widest possible variety of scenes, people, objects, lighting, etc. They then use advanced artificial intelligence algorithms (called “neural networks”) to best predict the likely color of each element.
Areas of uncertainty
Often, a monochrome image can be colored in multiple ways. So, how do you know what the exact shade of a piece of clothing was? To solve the problem, AI relies on probabilities, analysis of the context, sometimes also feedbacks received from various users.
AI colorization applications are numerous. Most are in English and require you to pay a fairly modest sum, so that it is possible to recover the final photo without the presence of a watermark. Some applications, notably Vance AIpropose to improve the original photo by cleaning up its imperfections.
Here we chose the MyHeritage application which has an interface in French and is very easy to use, although it does not give us great latitude to intervene on the image. Its use is free if you are ready to accept the presence of a mention “My Heritage” at the bottom of the final photo. The service is accessible at this address: https://www.myheritage.fr/incolor
Click Upload Photo.
The words “We colorize your photo” appear on the screen. And very quickly, the photo is ready. You can move the vertical slider which shows the difference between the original shot (monochrome) and its colorized version.
At this point it is possible to download the image, but before doing so, notice the “Sublime” button present above the photograph. Click on it. This function strives to improve the resolution of blurred areas of the image, and operates primarily on faces. Once the photograph has been sublimated, all that remains is to download it. The “MyHeritage” label at the bottom right can usually be removed using image editing software such as Photoshop.
Other coloring applications
If you are not satisfied with the result, you can use the following services:
- Colourize.com : a free and easy-to-use application but which seems a little finicky – it did not always work during our tests;
- Vance AI : this tool presents various retouching functions and leaves a good amount of latitude to the user. It requires a very modest payment;
- Photo Glory : a free application to download — only on Windows — with various image repair tools in addition to colorization.
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