Watch the Intricate Techniques Artists Use to Digitally Colorize Historical B&W Photographs (VIDEO)

The accurate colorization of old black-and-white photos involves a combination of artistry, painstaking research, physics and digital technology. And when the effort yields a realistic and vibrant reconstruction of the historical past, the result is quite magical.

In the fascinating video below you’ll see how experienced colorization artists accomplish their sorcery. They begin with meticulous research to make sure the colors they add are accurate and that the scene reflects weather conditions at the time the photograph was made.

Before adding color, artists often have to restore decades of deterioration and damage to the original photographs caused by careless storage and handling. The actual colorization of the image can require up to a hundred layers of color and days or even months to accomplish.

The practice of colorizing black-and-white photos is almost as old as photography itself, dating back to the 1800s when images were colored by hand. These days the artists are trained in research techniques, color theory, and digital-imaging technology, and the best colorists tend to have an intuitive understanding of how light works in the real world.

As you can see in the video, the colorization process not only brings old photographs to life, but it provides us with a view of people and moments in history that have never been seen in color by anyone other than those who were present at the time.

After watching the video be sure to look at our earlier story with beautifully colorized images from the First World War.