The art of hand-coloring or hand-tinting photographs dates back to the 1920s, or perhaps even earlier. A black-and-white or sepia-toned print would be painstakingly hand-colored with a very thinned out wash of either oil paint or watercolor. Oils were preferred for their longer working time. Watercolors would dry on the paper before they could be properly spread, but they were used nonetheless.
The main characteristic of a hand-colored photo is that the colors are very transparent. There is little or no attempt to paint in detail, as that comes through from the underlying photo. You can achieve this effect in Elements. Start with any black-and-white photo that lends itself to this technique. Though this technique is generally used on portraits, a hand-colored landscape might be interesting.
You'll paint with the Brush tool, which is explained in full detail in Chapter 26. Choose light colors for the effect (change brush colors by changing the foreground color) and set the brush opacity to 20% or less. Always paint on a new layer (Layer, New Layer), not on the background. That way, if you go outside the lines, you can simply erase your mistake and continue. I like to keep each color on its own layer so I can adjust the opacities individually, using the Opacity slider on the Layers palette. For instance, if I have chosen a shade of pink for a lady's blouse and then find it's too pink, I can set the opacity to 12% instead of 20%, making it paler, and not have to redo the color. Figure 24.63 shows a colorful couple. I haven't collapsed the layers yet, but I have added about all the color I'm going to use. If it's not subtle, it doesn't look right. Be sure to flip to the color plate section to see this one.
Figure 24.63. Don't get bogged down in details. In a picture of this size, you wouldn't see eye color or small details such as the man's suit buttons .