Jakob Lagerweij (Colourised Piece of Jake) is a Dutch colorist that specializes in the colorization of historical warfare photographs. In this article, we will have the opportunity to look at a selection of World War II images colorized by Jakob that feature in his new book series ‘WO2 in Kleur (WW2 in Color)’.
Countless hours have been spent researching and manually restoring the photos featured in WO2 in Kleur, and Jakob Lagerweij has kindly allowed us to share some of these as well as answer some questions about how he started in colorization, what he looks for in an image to restore, and what we can expect in the books.
Lagerweij first began colorizing historical photographs in 2018 and has spent the five years since mastering his craft. During his time in the colorization space, Jakob Lagerweij (with other colorists) moderated the large Facebook and Instagram pages WW1 Colourised Photos, WW2 Colourised Photos, and Colourised RAF Fighter & Bomber Command 1939-1945, and garnered his own substantial following sharing his work as Colourised Piece of Jake on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. With this experience, he is now embarking on a new project, a four-part book series titled ‘WO2 in Kleur’ that will cover all aspects of the Second World War.
“I am actually a storyboard artist in the advertising industry, so I have been working with Photoshop for quite a long time coloring my illustrations and conceptual sketches. In 2018, I saw a colorization on social media that looked pretty clumsy and half-colored and thought, ‘I’m going to try that too!’ I was always curious about what the black-and-white past would look like in color. After those first tries, I immediately enjoyed it, and others also loved it.”
When asked about why he mainly focuses on colorizing images from World War II, Colourised Piece of Jake said, “I focus on World War II out of personal interest. During the Second World War, a lot happened in the area where I live in the Netherlands, such as Operation Cannonshot and Operation Market Garden. Ever since I was a kid, I would listen to wartime stories from my grandparents, and Canadian veterans would come to my town for memorial celebrations; my dad, who passed away in 2018, helped to keep these commemorations alive. He was also the one who took me to Normandy, the Ardennes, and World War 2 museums from a young age. I also like to color photos from other periods, but World War II is just my preference!”
“Soon after posting some World War II colorizations on my Facebook and Instagram pages, I was noticed by colorizer Doug Banks who started sharing my work with a much larger audience. I visited him once, and we have kept in close contact ever since. In the end, we moderated the WW1, WW2, and RAF pages together.”
Lagerweij has released his new book with Dutch publisher Kick uitgevers, who he originally worked with a few years ago to colorize photographs for nostalgic football calendars. They saw that he had produced a lot of WWII colorizations, so the idea for a book covering the war arose. However, this does not mean that the book just features work that Lagerweij has shared previously. “I searched for and colored at least 80% new material for the book series. It eventually became a four-part book series that covers World War 2 in general from the run-up to VE-day and the aftermath in the years after. The focus is on the low countries, but many other events are covered. For example, The Battle of Britain, Pearl Harbor, the Pacific, North Africa, the Holocaust, Collaboration, daily life, damage, suffering, and humor are themes that feature in the series.”
“Another reason for me to make the series was the educational aspect, especially for younger generations. There is a lot of ignorance about the war and topics such as the Holocaust and the political history of the 1930s.”
When asked about what his favorite type of photograph to colorize is, Jakob Lagerweij says, “A high-quality photo with an interesting story always gets me excited! I like atmospheric photos with good light, although these are often challenging to convey well from black-and-white to color. However, when coloring this kind of image well, you immediately distinguish yourself nicely from those who use AI for coloring. Coloring apps and bots never get a complex photo right (especially when it comes to lighting, atmosphere, flesh tones, and historical accuracy). A top-quality photo usually results in a convincing, (almost) historically correct, and neutral color image – that’s what I’m always aiming for!”
As of April 2023, Part 1 and Part 2 of WO2 in Kleur have been released. These parts cover World War I to June 1940 (Part 1) and from July 1940 up until December 1942 (Part 2). If you wish to purchase these books, they are available in bookstores in the Netherlands and Belgium as well as online. Parts 3 and 4 are due for release in June 2023 and September 2023 respectively. For now, WO2 in Kleur is only published in Dutch, but there are already plans for an English version.
Be sure to follow Jakob Lagerweij (Colourised Piece of Jake) on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Website for more of his colorizations and updates on the release of Part 3 and Part 4 of WO2 in Kleur!
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