How to Color Black-and-White Photos With One Click

Nancy Messieh 28-07-2016

There’s quite a few apps and services out there that make it easy to convert color photos to black and white or to retain just a splash of color. But what if you wanted to go in the opposite direction and add color to a black and white photo?


There aren’t many easy ways to do this, but thanks to a new service from Algorithma, it just got a lot easier.

After you load the page, you can either paste an URL of a black and white photo available online (make sure the URL ends with .jpg for it to work) or upload an image from your computer and hit the Colorize It button. And that’s it!

Using an algorithm, the website will add color to the image using deep learning to classify the various elements within the image, and the add color based on that categorization. On the website, you can drag a line splitting the color and black and white versions to see how it changes.

So how good is the colorization? It definitely varies from image to image. With some black and white photos, you’ll get a very subtle, sepia colorization that makes it look like a vintage photo with subtle hints of color. With other photos that have a large amount of sky or grass in them, you get an impressively accurate rendering.

Using this landscape photo from Pixabay for example, resulted in the following:



You can download the colorized version of the image (which will have a small ColorizeIt logo in the bottom right-hand corner), or you can download the comparison at about 800 pixels wide.

Wherever you place the purple line is where it will appear as a static element in your download. There doesn’t appear, however, to be a way to embed or share the image with the interactive element maintained.

What do you think of the service? Let us know in the comments. 

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  1. Anonymous
    August 1, 2016 at 9:46 am

    I tried a number of landscape black and white photos and many of them were quite accurate. A few of them were extremely accurate that you would've thought it was originally in color.

    It's very interesting to see what this algorithm does to various pictures and I liked how some of them turned out. Although, for myself, I have no real use for it, but I’ll keep it in mind in case there is a need for it.

  2. Passer-by
    August 1, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Very nice! However, it doesn't always work perfectly, as you can see for yourself, by using this image:

    But still, since it's all about deep learning, I guess it'll just get better with time.

    As a somewhat unrelated sidenote, here's a small bonus for those who like to fiddle around with old black and white photos: