Graphic Science

Tips and Tutorials about Figures and Printed Media
K8Baldwin by K8Baldwin @

How to add color to a grey-scale/black & white microscope image

Using Adobe Photoshop (any version)

Show your true colors

How to Colorize Photomicrograph

These steps work in any version of Adobe Photoshop.  The interface looks very slightly different in different versions, but I think you will be able to follow this just fine.

Step 1: Open your black and white image in Photoshop
Step 2: On the lower side of the layers pallet, click on the small round button that looks like a black and white cookie (see photo below with arrow pointing to it).

Can't see your layers pallet?  Never fear, you can find all pallets under the menu at the top called "WINDOW."  (It's in the same row as File, Edit, Image, Layer, Type, etc.)  Look down the list under WINDOW and check Layers.

Open File and Find Layers Palette

Step 3: The black and white cookie button (formally known as the the "create new fill or adjustment layer" button) will open a list of options.  Choose "solid color."

Pick Solid Color

Step 4: Pick a color.  Click OK.

Pick a Color

Step 5: Your entire image is now just solid color.  Don't panic.  Again, look to your layers pallet and find the pull-down menu that currently says normal.  This is the blending mode menu. Change it from "Normal" to "Color".

Blending Mode

Theory behind blending modes: Blending mode changes how the pixels on this layer will interact with the layers below.  "Normal" means that they will just stack on top, thereby covering the layers below.  Each of the other blending modes are different algorithms.  For example, "darken" means only the dark pixels on this layer would show and the light pixels won't show.  For this tutorial, you probably want to stick with "color."

Change Blending Mode to Color

Step 6: Your image should be colorized now.  In addition to saving as a JPEG or whatever format you want to use this image as, also save as a Photoshop file (.PSD) so that you can retain a record of how the colorizing was done, and also so that you can change the color later with ease.

It is now colorized

Save as Photoshop File

Whenever you open your PSD file, you will still see your color layer in the layers pallet above your black and white original image.

Your Layers will Still be there if you save as PSD

You can always click off the 'eye' on the colorizing layer to see your grey-scale image below.  Re-click it to turn the eye back on.

Your layer file is safe and sound un-changed.

Changing the Color

It's easy to change the color later if you save the file as a PSD.  Just double click on the colorful part of your colorizing layer and pick a new color.  Click OK.

Changing Color
K8Baldwin by K8Baldwin @

DIY Business Card Edge Painting

Works on white cards too

Finished Cards
I recently ordered some business cards from Card Sox.  I got 500 square, rounded corner, spot UV (2 sided) cards for less than $100 including delivery.  However, Card Sox does not offer edge painting.  The cards I received look good, but there is a more wobble on the cutting than I am used to.  Because my cards have a boarder, it’s noticeably uneven on many.  I recommend Card Sox if your cards do not a boarder.

Here are the cards before edge painting:
Before Painting

Edge painting is when the thin side of the card is painted a bright color.  Traditionally, this process can only be done to black cards because some bleeding-in of the paint is enviable and would show up on white cards.

After reading some great blogs (This one recomends sponge brush, and this one details how spray paint doesn't work, this one recomends sharpie, that didn't work well for me.), I decided to give it a try with my new cards.  I found a type of paint (Viva Metallic Rub)  at JoAnn’s craft store ($6.5) that did a great job.  I even tested it on some older white cards I had laying around, and it works great.  This paint does not bleed in.  


You don’t need the clamp but it’s handy.  Don’t over tighten it or it will actually make the edges fan out.  You definitely want to use a sponge brush.  It’s tempting to rub it on with your fingers, but that results in too much product being applied and unnecessary flacking off.  Although expect some flakes of paint when you first ‘shuffle’ the cards no matter how you apply the paint.  I un-stacked them immediately to prevent the cards from sticking.  This rub-paint is not runny, so if you separate them right away it won’t be too messy.  It seems to dry within an hour or so.

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