Hand Tinting

greenspun.com : LUSENET : B&W Photo: Alternative Process : One Thread

I've just purchased Marshall's "Hobby Set" of photo oils, and am about to dive into the world of hand tinting my prints. I was hoping that perhaps others would share some advice and experience with me, to help reduce the learning curve. Also, what hand colored photos have worked for you, and why were the images effective? Thanks in advance for the responses.

-- Brandon Ward (Brandon_Ward@yahoo.com), January 14, 1999


Hand tinting can the most fun/frustrating thing you can do with a photo. I just started a few months ago, so I can tell you about some of the problems I ran into and the solutions I found.

1. Use matt FB paper. (I use Ilford and love it) I haven't found an RC paper that takes oils well, and perl, or glossy is right out. The oils will rub right off no matter how long you let them dry!

2. Under print the picture, or the area you want to tint by dodging. It's hard to tint dark greys. This varies depending on the picture, just keep it in mind.

3. Start simple! The first print I tinted was a picture of a cat's face. I just tinted the eyes (green, blue, and gold). It came out great. Then I got ambitious and tried to tint a cityscape. That was a mistake, it came out awfull! I wasn't ready yet to do something that complicated. So, Start simple and master the easy stuff first!

4. Develop your own style. I can't seem to use the skewers that come in the kit, I keep scratching the print! I use Q-tips and balls of cotton for rubbing and blending.

5. Try the Marshall's pencils for details! I just got a set and they work real well.

6. Watch the Marshall's video. It's mostly marketing like you'd expect. Filled with things like: "Welcome to the Wonderfull World of Tinting" and "It's Great for People of all Ages!". In other words it's a marketing tool. But I watched it twice and found tips and tricks that I've found usefull. Usually just little things, but they helped. Unfortunally, the best information in the video is in the background; things you see people do, but don't talk about.

I hope this helps. It's not as hard as you might think. I have no talent for painting or drawing (That's why I photograph), and even I can get rather good results. Good Luck.....

-- Christopher H. Esser (esserc@stricom.army.mil), January 15, 1999.

As with the answer above, Q tips and cotton pads work really well for blending and applying color, but I have found the biggest problem for me is getting the little hairs from the q-tips and cotton pads off when I'm finished. A friend suggested gently wiping the finished picture with a cosmetic sponge to remove this debris before spraying. This works really well. I use regular artists' oil paints to tint my prints, and find they work very well. I tried pastels and water colors in the past, and found both to be very unforgiving. I started out by using pencil crayons on copies of photographs to get a feel for colors, and then graduated to practising on my castoff prints before moving to some of my favorite black and whites. I have done a number of portraits of both my kids and other people's children. I like closeups very much, because you can concentrate on the eyes, which makes for a very striking photo. This is an incredibly fun and relaxing pass time... good luck.

-- e. mudge (denmudge@telusplanet.net), January 18, 1999.

Thanks for the answers, everyone. I just received my Marshall's oils, and can't wait to start. Hopefully, the advice I received here will lessen my learning curve.

-- Brandon Ward (Brandon_Ward@yahoo.com), January 18, 1999.

I recently attended an arts exhibit and met a local Ontario artist who specializes in this area. He used watercolour as well as a medium for tinting. It's definitely worth a try for fun. He said it was great for "detailed " areas. Good Luck !

-- lori gagne (lorig@vaxxine.com), January 24, 1999.

I use "orangewood" sticks from the beauty supply (used by manicurist). They work great because they are longer and stronger to hold on to and more tapered at the tip than q-tips. I'm just getting started myself. That's all I've got for now, good luck. Vickie

-- Vickie Cole (vickie@staramusement.com), February 05, 1999.

The most important thing to remember when hand-coloring is that Marshall's Oils are definitly not the only way to go. I started hand coloring a few years agoand i've used food dye, tea, acrylic paint, watercolors, anything i can get my hands on!! (crayons didn't work very well) I just make a few extra prints and start going, pick my favorite one and matt it. Let's face it some of us are on strict budgets and Marshall's are alot more expensive than a couple tubes of paint.

-- linda stolarski (linda_s74@hotmail.com), March 24, 1999.

In the past I have tried Marshall oils and watercolors and have never been satisfied with the results. I now print on Kodak Ektalure paper and apply color using Grumbacher oil pastels and Berosol color pencils. I draw onto the paper and then work the color into it using cotton balls and Q-tips.What I don't want I erase with a gum eraser. When I am satisfied with the print I then spray it with a permanent fixative.To view examples go to www.nb.net/~mitchelb/

-- Mitchell S. Barutha (mitchelb@nb.net), April 01, 1999.

Hi! I do a lot of professional hand tinted work...my $.02 worth!

1. Fiber based paper is the best but for playing around or practicing, Kodak RC Art Paper is GREAT. Not available in multi contrast - get the 2 as the 3 is VERY contrasty...

1. Anything with people usually looks 100% better if it is sepia toned first.

3. If you are interested in a "lightly" tinted look, use the PM solution to help "water down" the oils.

4. PEnsils are great for details - Marshalls not necessary (and expensive!) You can use the Berol PRosmacolors just as well.

5. when you are done with a print, spray it with a finisher - that will help prevent a selectively tinted print from having "texture" in one area and just regular "print texture" in another...

Hope this helps and would love to hear from anyone else doing hand tinting professionally - especially pricing!


-- Hap (Hap2go@aol.com), April 06, 1999.

Thanks to everyone for the sexcellent responses, and please keep them coming!

-- Brandon Ward (Brandon_Ward@yahoo.com), April 07, 1999.

I just stumbled across this page and thought I'd drop-in for a moment. Take it frum a ole-fart hoo lerned OIL COLORING way back in da FIFTIES. It's a lot of FUN! Don't get discouraged...your work will improve as you progress. Fact is...I STILL have my ole original Marshall's Kit...WHEN they didn't cost the price of a Small Car these days!! Matte surface paper is best...Clear Spray Matte Finish is optional...but good if you want the self-assurance for your own peace-of-mind...(THET Still LAST without it...I've got beautiful 11x14's in 16x20 Mounts that still look great!...and we're talkin' ALMOST FIFTY YEARS AGO!! My Gawd!...WARE did all dat tyme fly too?...Seems jest like yestiday! Jest wantid two incourage ya to keep at it...if nuttin else den a wunderfull new expeermint in life...take care...and best of luck to you always...a frend...ED.

-- ED Cherney (getrichkwik@webtv.net), April 15, 1999.

Hand tinting is a wonderful way for a black and white photographer to get their images noticed in the world of color. However, there are alot of products you can use that will ease your mind when mixing colors. I through out my Marshall Oils when I found Pebeo photo oils. tubes are bigger, costs less, and the colors mix like real paints. I don't have to use that gawd awful PM solution to prepare the paper and the oils dry faster than Marshalls. Pebeo Oils are a vegetable based product and the colors are more vibrant. When you mix white to a primary color you get a lighter version that is not chalky. When you mix black to a color you get a darker tone not mud. I have used them with success on all types of paper from rc to fiber and all types of surfaces, nothing but happiness. Their pencils are softer and blendable leaving no pencil stress marks on the paper. I have also swithced to a fairly new product called water matt spray to finish the image. No horrible smell and I can use it indoors and the spray is very fine. Try it.

-- jacque staskon (jacque@cybertrails.com), April 30, 1999.

I just began working with Marshall Oils too so I am a rookie. My findings: 1) use only a very, very small dab of oil and work it in. It doesn't take much. 2) I am using Luminos RCR with good success. I tested Kodak Art Paper but it curls up when I print. the Luminos handles like a dream and stays flat, plus takes the oil well. 3) I use uncolored toothpicks, cut the end off 1/8", rub them down smooth on my pallet to remove burrs and apply oil, then touch up with a Q-Tip. 4) for detail work I cut the end of the Q-Tip off about 1/8" so I get a square edge of cotton. 5) It is easier to stay within the boundries than to try to clean up oil later - seem bloody obvious, but the Marshall video said the opposite. 6) go to an antique or junk store and buy old B&W photos for $1 or $2. these are great to practice on. Good luck to us all!! slb.

-- steve bougie (steve.bougie@notes.bosch.de), July 26, 1999.

Check out http://www.handcolor.com - it has everything you ever needed to know about handcoloring - and a great directory for those of us who are pro's.

-- Tom (tom@aol.com), July 18, 2000.

Marshalls are very nice but often hard to control. I teach high school kids and we have no money so we like to use Kodak N or Ilford satin in RC surface and then we tint using Berol Primacolors or Prang thick lead art pencils (I use Derwents at home but they cost more) With q-tips and a little turpenoid to smooth the color we get dramatic results... Plus we don't often have to spray since the turpenoid binds the color. Lightest touches work the best and I agree that tinted photos look sepia toned but don't overlook Berg blue,brown, or gold toners. Best of luck

-- L suttonschmitz (Lsuttonschmitz@hotmail.com), August 03, 2000.

Hi, an answer from Europe. Have you ever heard of the work of Jan Saudek ? The guy has created an extreme personal style with lots of hand coloured b&w's. I started a few years ago, and got nice results almost at once. I started on the normal RC papers, and used a kit made by Hama, "Retouching dye set", (no. 8331) with 18 ready to use colors, perfect for blending colors and shade's, transparent and scumbling. (It also has a bottle of white and glossy black, which I use for retouching my b&w prints...) The set cost me about $ 30,=, I'm still using it and will for several years ! It let me "paint" on every print, exposed in the regular way, won't wash or fade. To get the idea: working on an 30X40 cm. b&w print (whats that in inches ?) I can colour the whole in about one evening ! Very nice: use the colour only on parts of the image, e.g. everything BUT the subject. It indeed looks very nice with sepia-toned prints. Just start, develop what works for you, look very careful at other artist work and don't try to duplicate. Let me know if you haven't seen something from Saudek. I love it.. Good luck !

Rob Wagterveld,Lisse, the Netherlands.

-- rob wagterveld (rwagterv@nl.packardbell.org), October 14, 2000.

I used to instruct a handtinting class in a photography store (sold cameras and equipment, custom framing and scrapbooking etc) that I used to work in. I find to blot the excess oils off of the photo, use a large cottonball and any details you have, and you want the quickest way to go, try using the PhotoTwin markers..they come in fine points to color details such as jewelry or the whites in the eyes. I have yet to try food coloring, and I just read that it works pretty good and have seen some peoples results. Let me know how food coloring works for *you* if you try it! (ps-if you use an RC paper, the oil will not cling to it, but if that's all you have, then get the marshall's matte spray. it's not too expensive, plus it lasts a long time. then it makes any glossy feel like a matte finish for the oils.)

-- Jen Nail (jdnail@hotmail.com), April 13, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ