Coloring WW2DB Images with Machine Learning


Having been a minor contributor to WW2DB for a few years, I've been itching to apply some visualization, data analysis, and machine learning to the data amassed on this site. I recently started a project to create machine learning models to automatically color black and white images. I used images from WW2DB to train the models with the intent of providing a new, colored perspective on the historically non-colored images of WWII.

I wrote a simple blog post about it here: Coloring B&W Images with Machine Learning

There are currently more than to 26,000 images on WW2DB, but only a small percentage of them are in color. In the past, the famous ones have attracted enough attention to get colored manually. I thought it'd be interesting to have a way to see some of the lesser known ones in color as well. Much of the research into the techniques were developed by folks way smarter than me. I'm only applying those techniques to a specific set of data.

Here are some images I've generated so far, along with their black and white originals:

There's a lot more to do. The models generally have an accuracy of 60-70%, and the preliminary models can only generate color images that are 256x256. Still, it's exciting, and I wanted to share the news here. I've only colored a few images, but I hope to try a few more soon.

In the mean time, if there are any black and white images that you're itching to see colored, leave a comment below. Thanks!


Last Major Update: Nov 2019

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