Video: How Artists Colorize Old Photographs

British colorizer Jordan Lloyd told Vox about the main difficulties of his profession.

Jordan Lloyd is a British artist who colorizes old archive photographs and whose works have become increasingly popular on the Internet in recent years. His projects include colorized versions of photographs of migrants who arrived in the US a hundred years ago, photographs from Tutankhamun’s tomb, and pictures of the famous landmarks taken when they were being constructed. In an interview to Vox, Lloyd explained what the process of working on the photographs looked like and what the difficulties of his profession were.

One of the main stages is preparation — collecting detailed information about a photograph and the epoch when this photograph was taken. Only this way, LLoyd says, you may be sure that the final colors will be true to history. The research includes studying archive documents, newspapers, advertising leaflets, and consultations with experts. “A good colorizer has a good network of people to call on,” Lloyd says.

The work directly on the photographs starts with editing and removing visible defects such as scratches, only after that it comes to colorization. One of the most difficult elements is working on people’s skin. To make photos look realistic, artists sometimes have to create dozens of color layers for each of the persons. According to Lloyd, it may take him anywhere from two hours to several days or even weeks to colorize one photograph. He once spent a month on one image. “It’s a shitload of work,” the artist says.

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