To be honest, I almost didn’t finish writing this blog post. Yesterday, I discovered an online tool to colourize my old family photos — and I have been distracted ever since.
My newest toy is a free, very easy-to-use tool that colourizes black and white photos within seconds. Produced by Algorithmia API, the tool uses a “deep learning algorithm” to make it possible for you to see what your ancestors may have looked like in colour.
If you have seen faded colour photos from the 1950s and 1960s, these photos will remind you of them. They also look like old postcards and photos that were touched up with water colour paint.
Although the colour may not always be accurate, the colourizing tool brings life to your old family photos and adds a new dimension to them. In a couple of photos I colourized, I noticed elements that had escaped my attention in the past.
Very soon after you upload a photo, you will see a comparison of the original to the colourized version. Just slide the purple vertical line back and forth to see the before and after.
Hit and miss
The results are a bit hit and miss.
I seemed to be most successful with photos of people that were taken outdoors. The tool seems to work best colouring faces, green grass, and blue skies.
The colours of clothing are not always accurate. (Remember, this is a free tool.)
I ran a couple of tests with black and white photos taken of me when I was a child. I wanted to see how the tool coloured my red hair. In colour photos taken when I was young, my hair always appears as bright red. In the colourized versions of original black and white photos, my hair was coloured red, albeit more auburn than the actual colour.
In another test, I first converted a recent photo to black and white. Then, I colourized the photo to see if the colours remained true. While hair colour seemed somewhat accurate, the colourizing tool turned a navy shirt into a red shirt.
Still, this is a really fun tool to try. It is adictive, seeing which photos turn out best.
Start colourizing your photos here. No instructions necessary, which is a always good thing.
Read more about this new free colourizing tool and see a Wizard of Oz example in The Verge.