Well, not perfect. That’s a long ways off. Practice makes things better is remarkably true. My professional life did not make use of color, or at least rarely. Much of the design that I produced had to by printed in-house, and in those days it wasn’t in four color process, or even two color spor. It was B&W, and tones. Unless I was willing to run the color and clean the press afterwards. Needless to say, my work experience did not improve my color skills.
Of course I still taught the principles of color, not only ambient but projected. My photography classes were filled with color practice and information. It’s just that sitting down and making a reasonable working palette was not something that I normally did, day in and day out. I felt unknowing.
So I few years ago I start a project of colorizing black and whit photographs. Instead of just using random screen shots from the web, I picked Hollywood headshots of the stars from 1920-1960s. It didn’t really matter so long as they were high res, and with a great gray-scale factor.
The benefit it that the photos were generally people that I know, so my end product should look like them. And the real big plus is that the photographers knew what they were doing. Unfortunately they were often hired by the studios and no credit was given to them.
I worked about three months on a little more than 100 photos. I learned a lot, and it was progressive, so I got better. My technique was to use filters that I made in PhotoShop to produce color shifts that were pleasing but somewhat surprising. I never knew how much green and blue are undertones in skin.
Eventually I found some free apps that had filters that did about 80% of what I wanted. I manually entered a layer for the other 20%. Filters almost always harms details, so I entered other layers for hair, eyes, mouth, eyebrows, and even color foundation.
By the end of the project I felt somewhat knowing. With other projects the knowing became more complex, so now I feel that I might want to go back and re-do those first images. That that any were gross, well, a few were.
In the end, I just found more headshots, and for the last month or so I’ve been making a bunch of color. This is my new Hollywood Headshots.