Autochrome Conversion
With PaintShop Pro

The Autochrome was the first commercially viable colour reproduction process. The Lumière Brothers in France patented the process in 1906.  Grains of starch were stained red/orange, green and violet although the US patent does indicate other possible combinations of colours.

The grains act as colour filters so that the silver-based emulsion behind reacts accordingly.  After monochrome film reversal development, the glass plate is viewed through these filters and colour is obtained additively.

The manufacturing process continued from 1907 through to the early 1930s until subtractive film processes replaced it.

The viewed effect is that of a grainy image, not dissimilar to that obtained from very high ISO rated conventional subtractive film or a noisy digital image. 

Aesthetically, the image resembles pointillist art which produces its colour effect in a similar way by dots of applied colour.  At the time, scientific theory proclaimed that all was made of atoms, tiny objects, thus art science and photography were unified.

This tutorial from Terry (who lives in a small village on the outskirts of Stoke-On-Trent in Staffordshire, England) will lead you through the steps to create an Autochrome image with Paint Shop Pro..

The Autochrome Process

Choose an image to convert - the process seems to work quite nicely with landscapes but does an amazing job with portraits as well (as you can see from the image from 1915 above).

On the left is the original image and on the right is the image after the autochrome conversion. 

Original Autochrome Conversion Image

Original Image for Conversion

Final Image After Conversion

It may be difficult to see what makes the images so different so here is a close up detail view of the sky and the top of a tree ... 

Autochrome Detail

Autochrome Detail

It certainly looks interesting so let's take a look at the conversion steps.

Step One
Split Channels and Add Noise

The first step is to split the image into it's red, green a blue channels by selecting Image > Split Channel > Split to RGB ...  To make working with the three channels a bit easier select Window > Tile Horizontally - now you have a good arrangement to work with.

Split Channels and Original

Split Channel View

Top Left - Blue Channel   Top Right - Red Channel
Bottom Left - Green Channel   Bottom Right - Original Colour

Now we are going to add some noise to each of the split channels - Adjust > Add/Remove Noise > Add Noise ...

For a large image like this one (3264 pixels X 2448 pixels) use the following noise settings. 

Blue Channel Settings

Adjust > Add/Remove Noise > Add Noise ...



Green Channel Settings

Adjust > Add/Remove Noise > Add Noise ...



Red Channel Settings

Adjust > Add/Remove Noise > Add Noise ...



If the image is smaller then proportionally smaller noise settings will be necessary to maintain the good looks of the final image.  There is no formula for the noise settings - these are the ones that Terry suggested and they work well with this large file. 

Step Two
Recombine The Channels

The next step is to combine the three channels with their new noise settings.

Makes sure that the Red Channel is in the red channel source, the Green Channel is in the Green channel source and the Blue Channel is in the Blue channel source.

The new layer will be called Raster 1.

One time I didn't and ended up with a really odd and very, very noisy black and white image!  It sure was puzzling for awhile.

Step Three
Levels Adjustments

The third step is to apply Levels on the combined image on Raster 1 using Red, Green and Blue rather than the composite RGB.  

Select Adjust > Brightness and Contrast > Levels ... this will require 2 different adjustments, one for Red, one for blue and nothing for green. 

Red Channel Levels

Lowered to 109

Reduces red and adds a slight Magenta cast.  

This adjustment is a suggestion only - adjust your image to taste.  

Green Channel Levels
No change.

Green channel - the uneven fade in the coloured starch grains leads to a colour  bias. Add to this the slightest bit of unequal colour sensitivity and you get a bias. Green seems to get more fade hence an increase in magenta and red.

Blue Channel Levels

Lowered to 100

Reduces blue and adds a slight Magenta cast.

This adjustment is a suggestion only - adjust your image to taste.  

This is how the image looks after the Levels adjustments and before the final adjustments ... 

Step Four
Average Blur

Duplicate Raster 1 by right clicking on it and select Duplicate or go to Layers > Duplicate - whatever your preference.

Make the Copy of Raster 1 active and add some Blur using the Average Filter ...

Adjust > Blur > Average ... and set the Filter Aperture to 29 which is Blur High in the drop down menu in the palette.

Set the Blend Mode of Copy of Raster 1 to Color (Legacy) and the blur disappears.

The image is starting to look good - so - let's do some additional adjustments.

Go to Image > Negative Image and this is what you will get ... 

It looks rather strange at this point, doesn't it but if the Opacity of Raster 1 is lowered to around 20% this is what happens ... 

Now that looks better, doesn't it?

Step Five
Adjust Contrast and Brightness

To give the final image that true Autochrome look the Brightness and Contrast needs to be lowered.  Each image is different and this is the best for this one ...

To produce the final image ... 

There you go - a really great autochrome tutorial from Terry - there are some additional images on the sample page for your viewing pleasure!

The images really do grow on you after converting a few of them so give the process a go! 

Thanks for visiting ...!

Copyright 2009 - 2015

Use the Contact Form to ask questions, make suggestions or add comments.