How to Hand Color a Black and White Photograph

Although black and white photographs are very attractive, you may want to colour a particular photograph. You can either use photo oils or coloured pencils and pastels for this purpose.

Things Required:

– Matte-finished black and white photographs
– Cotton balls or cotton craft piping
– Small, wooden sticks (toothpicks or cuticle sticks work well)
– Photo oils kit
– Art-quality coloured pencils (soft lead)
– Art pastels
– P.M. solution (found at specialty stores) if using something besides photo oils
– Small, disposable plastic palette (if using photo oils)


  • 1

    Colouring with Photo Oils:

    Before you start colouring the black and white photograph, prepare the tools you will need. To colour large areas on the photograph, you can use large swatches of cotton. However, for smaller areas, wrap a small piece of cotton around a skewer or a toothpick. Make sure that you twist the cotton around the skewer or the toothpick at least three to four times. This will prevent the cotton from falling off while you are colouring the photograph.

  • 2

    Put small dabs of all the photo oil shades that you plan to use on a painting palette. Avoid squeezing out large quantities of photo oil because you will eventually come to know that little goes a fairly long way. You would have to mix together multiple shades of photo oil if you plan on using custom colours.

  • 3

    Start by filling photo oil in large areas of the photograph first. Apply a small quantity of desired photo oil shade onto a cotton balls and use it to colour large photograph areas. Make sure that you apply a uniform layer of photo oil.

  • 4

    For smaller photograph areas, use the skewer or tooth pick with you prepared in the first step. You would want to prevent paint oil from one section of the photograph from running into an adjacent section. To accomplish this, use only a very small amount of photo oil.

  • 5

    After you are done colouring the photograph, allow it to dry completely before displaying it in your photo gallery.

  • 6

    Colouring with Coloured Pencils or Pastels:

    Start by doing some preparation work on the photograph. Apply a thin layer of P.M. solution onto the black and white photograph with the help of a cotton ball. Allow enough time for the solution to dry on the photograph.

  • 7

    Use coloured pencils or pastels to colour the photographs in small strokes. To hide stroke marks and blend different shades, use a cotton ball or skewer.

  • 8

    You can also colour the photographs with shades in multiple layers. However, you will have to allow one layer to dry completely before applying the second one.

  • 9

    After you are done colouring the photograph, allow enough time for the shades to dry properly.

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