Colorising the past: Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid

Only my second attempt at colourising black and white vintage photos, this one is a publicity still from Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (public domain original from Wikimedia Commons).


Publicity still with Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid

Re-colourising photos is both easier and harder than it looks. The easy part is adding the colour (Photoshop masks). The harder part is deciding what colours to use when there isn’t much to reference. The toughest part by far has been adding texture and realism to skin tones!

Jackie Coogan remains black and white, partly because skin colouring is quite the doo-dah, but also because I like the colour pop effect, which almost makes Chaplin seem to be sitting half-in and -out of the photo.

My very first attempt at colourising (Oscar Wilde, who I’m sure would have adored the attention … ) can be viewed on Instagram.


Original Chaplin image as credited above. Rainbow photo by Harry Quan on Unsplash.