color Kancho

Recently, I made a post on “color paintings of O-sensei.”  Then, yesterday, influenced by Aikido Journal, I tried my hand at colorizing a photo of Donn Draeger.  So, here’s the logical progression: a post on Shioda Gozo.

Again, here’s what Stanley Pranin had done…


You can see that the colorized image he ended up with was not quite up to the cutting edge in colorization.  Probably, he was thinking about making Ueshiba’s technique come alive the way these color photos can bring Lincoln and Darwin alive…



A skilled graphic designer can really work magic with a B&W photo…



There are lots of color photos and color videos of Kancho.  However, these are all from his later years.  What I would really like to see is a colorized version of that old 1950s film that was maybe made around the time the Yoshinkan opened.  It has some amazing footage of a young Shioda–very dynamic and strong.  The next best thing would be color photos from that period, but there don’t seem to be any.  The best I can do is to try colorizing something myself.

So do you think I could pull off a feat like the Lincoln photo?  No way!

Colorizing photos is really hard.  The one of a young Ueshiba that Stanley Pranin had done is not really great, but it’s much better than I can do.  Here are three attempts at colorizing photos of a youthful(ish) Kancho…


One nice thing is that Shioda wore white and black, so it is easy to colorize him.  This photo took only about 5 minutes.  But anything more than adding a tint to skin tone…


This photo took a long, long time (a couple hours).  Skin tones are almost impossible, so when I hit on one that was somewhat passable, I took it.  What really took a lot of time was the walls and mats.  I just couldn’t figure out how to manipulate GIMP in order to give the impression of white walls, as in the photo Pranin had colorized.  These gray walls with over-saturated wood look like very early attempts at colorized photos from like the 19th century, don’t they?  I guess they’re called Deguerrotypes… let’s see if I can find an example on Google quickly…

Well, I guess maybe my attempt was even more primitive than primitive color photos.

On my second attempt at this photo, I hit on the idea of not trying to make white walls, but of simply picking any wall color that looked authentically “old”.  I think this worked much better.  The wood is perhaps still too saturated.  I was referring to Pranin’s photo as a guide, but I can see from other color photos that the wood in Japanese homes doesn’t actually appear as brown and saturated as you would think.



I could try again.  The problem is that dojos are so devoid of saturated color that if you make a background wall with dark woodwork and greyish walls, it just looks like a B&W photo.  Sigh.

As far as I know, there is only one decent painting of Shioda.  I believe it belongs to Yoshinkan hombu, although it may belong to Yasuhisa; I don’t know.  Anyhow, here it is.  Sorry the image is so small; I can’t find a bigger image.  I believe this painting can be seen hanging in hombu in instructional videos made in the last decade or so.



If anyone out there has a really good photo of a youthful Shioda, please scan it at high resolution and send it to me.  I will try a more intricate and thorough job of colorizing it.  Thanks.