Easily Colorize Black and White Photos with AI

Researchers from University of California, Berkeley developed an interactive deep learning-based app that makes it easy to accurately colorize a black and white image in minutes.

Building on the researcher’s previous work of a convolutional neural network automatically adding color to black and white photos, their new app uses the same process, but with the addition of user-guided clues and hints to produce more realistic results.

Using CUDA, a TITAN X GPU and cuDNN with the Caffe deep learning framework, they trained their models on 1.3 million color photos that were made grayscale “synthetically” (by removing the color components).

The app first takes its best attempt to automatically colorize the source image and then creates a small palette of suggested colors. The user is then able to refine the colorization by adding color markers to the source image.

If you want to try it yourself, the researchers published the ‘Interactive Deep Colorization’ code on GitHub. They have also published a variety of historical grayscale photographs that have been colorized with their app and they look incredibly realistic.

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3 thoughts on “Easily Colorize Black and White Photos with AI

  1. Asterion Daedalus on May 25, 2017 at 2:33 pm said:

    No doubt there is a little science in this, and certainly engineering, but where is the art? There is quaintness, history, context and a raft of other qualities in old black and white photographs. I wonder then if this is actually disrespectful? Go figure, if the first time a new generation sees these colorized works, how do they then put them in context? Like any young school lad who has found his father’s stash of porn, he will be unaware of the old crone rocking in the chair at the old folks home.

    • bonesmccoy on July 3, 2017 at 2:37 pm said:

      Great point!
      That photo in the thumbnail is a Dorothea Lange photo from the Great Depression. It’s a classic photo by an iconic West Coast female photographer during the height of the Grapes of Wrath in the 1930’s. Colorizing that iconic photo is certainly disrespectful of the original photographer’s intent, skill, and message. The tech is fine, but I would have suggested picking a less iconic photo for a thumbnail.

  2. cronin on May 25, 2017 at 2:50 pm said:

    I wish it was easier to install and supported qt5… :(