Tuesday, 28 June 2011


A Beginning

Several years ago I bought a book that changed the way I looked at the Second World War, the book in questions was Germany at War by George Forty. It contains nothing but colour photographs, and in my mind they made the war come to life. It it difficult to relate to the subjects of black and white photographs, but when you see the same thing in colour it seems all the more real. This purchase kick-started an interest in the Second World War that continues to this day.

Earlier this year, I discovered the French series Apocalypse: The Second World War, which consists of 6 episodes of black and white footage that has been professionally colourised. What truly blew me away about it was the level of detail then went into, the uniforms are the correct colour, the vehicles are the correct colour, and it all looks so alive! I've seen examples of colourised WW2 footage in the past, and to be honest, it was very disappointing. I'm something of a stickler for things being 'correct' (I was a reenactor for several years - authenticity is key!), and if the colourisation of individual elements is blatantly incorrect, then it destroys any suspension of disbelief.

Watching the series has reignited my interest in seeing the war as it truly was, and to this end I have decided to try my hand at colourising some photographs. I looked up some tutorials on Google, installed a copy of GIMP and had at it!

Below is the first example of what I hope to be many (click the images to view them full-size).

The photo depicts a German Soldier armed with a Raketenpanzerbüchse 54 in a Schützenloch (foxhole) during a training exercise.

 I had a lot of trouble trying to get the face to look right, and the helmet is a little light but overall I'm quite happy with it as a first attempt. The colour of the 'jacket' proved rather difficult to determine, the material appears shiny and it looks a lot like a gas cape (as worn when firing the earlier version of the Panzerschreck that didn't have the shield) so I went with a gas cape-esque brown. If anyone can shed any light on what the garment might actually be, please let me know.

Update: If anyone has any requests for pictures that they would like colourising, please drop me an email via the Contact page.

The original photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.
Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-671-7483-29 / Lysiak / CC-BY-SA