Deoldify AI for coloring grayscale images

AI methods for colorization of black and white or vintage photographs has been around for several years now but I haven’t really talked about it much on the blog.

I decided to give Deoldify AI a go on some grayscale studies I made last year to see if it was worth doing as part of my artistic process or not. Artists often do a black and white or grayscale version before adding color to ensure the contrast values work.

I found a free desktop version of the tool called Deoldify.NET.

It adds a vintage looking wash of color which I thought might be useful as a starting point.

I decided to test the process of doing this on a painting study I made recently:

I thought it might be a useful process to get started although Deoldify didn’t get all the colors right, it was pretty good and faster than doing it manually (depending on your system hardware and the size of the image).

This process may be useful combined with the AI enlargement technique and when done in early stages of a painting if it is to be used as part of a process to make a more refined image because it is faster to do on smaller images.

Using it on bigger images will take longer and the result may not be great anyway so try it out in small sizes first.

I worked into the result by adding color and detail manually with the reference image. I think some images work better than others with the tool. Sometimes it may be faster just to add the initial wash of colors on a separate layer set to multiply / color or overlay mode yourself though, especially if you want to experiment with crazy colors.

Update 2023

I couldn’t download the latest version of this program on GitHub because the link was broken, the version I used in this article is version 1.0.

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