I’m a colorizer, and I am always looking to improve the initial approach to tired-looking imagery. Of recent, I’ve been experimenting with a broad range of AI and applied the initial results to the well-known ferrotype of Henry McCarty, better known as Billy the Kid.

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Full-length portrait of Billy the Kid at Fort Sumner

Image credits: wikipedia

This is a corrected scan of the original 1879/80 ferrotype. It was taken by photographer Ben Wittick.

Billy the Kid up close

Image credits: wikipedia

The fragility of the ferrotype over time and lesser resolution make for a tired image with low detail.

The same image brought to life using a new AI

It took a long time to figure how best to approach the AI model, there are many choices in terms of time and accuracy. As a tool to find a ‘ground truth’ image, I think this was beyond successful. All of a sudden, Billy the Kid is revealed and, when compared to the initial input image, the AI has clearly understood what it has ‘seen’.

Billy the Kid in color

It made complete sense to now colorize the output image as there was plenty of detail to work with. A proprietary method was used in this instance and undertaken using my Wacom MSP running Corel.

Before & after

I find myself lacking in adjectives to best describe how far we have come in terms of AI technology for images. The intention has always been to bridge a gap between history and art, and I think these results have done that.