How to convert colour to black and white in Photoshop

Jaedxmas07I took this picture of the Pipi Princess between Christmas and New Year at my brother’s house using his plum tree as a back drop.  Something about her expression in this picture made me decide that it was suitable for black and white conversion, in addition to her serene expression, the texture of the moss on the plum tree lent itself to conversion as well.

I like my children in black and white, it seems to bring out the character far more than the distraction of a colour image.

There are a couple of different ways to convert an image.  Not all of them are as attractive as my preferred method which I shall explain. 

What to do you want in a black and white image?

When you create a black and white image you are trying to create just that, black and white, with varying shades of grey, things that should be white for instance the whites of eyes, should indeed be white, very dark shadows etc should be black and everything in between should be varying shades of grey.  When you convert an image using the desaturate option, you’ll get shades of grey, it’s a greyscale image.  You won’t get clear whites and blacks however.  Which is why my preferred method is to use the channel mixer.

The method.

Open your chosen image in photoshop.  Make a duplicate image, go to image on the top menu dropdown menu then chose duplicate.  Close your original.

Go to Image on the top menu again, chose adjustments, then channel mixer.

In the bottom of the dialogue box there is a check box “monochrome” tick the box, also ensure you have the preview box ticked, your image will turn monochrome and the output channel will show grey.

Now comes the fun.

You will notice the dialogue box contains source channels, red at 100%, green and blue will both show 0.

I like to change red to 50% and green and blue to 25% each, either use the sliders or enter the numbers into the box.

Basically you can set the numbers in any combination you prefer, as long as they total 100% over the 3 boxes.

Notice how the image lightens as you add the green and blue percentages?  You can experiment with the sliders to get the look you like.

When you are satisfied with your image, click ok.

If you are working on a lap top or lcd screen, or your screen has not been calibrated or you aren’t sure…

go to the Image menu again

Adjustments

Click Auto Contrast.

I work on a lap top and the contrast changes with every tilt of my screen, in order to ensure I have the right contrast I use the auto contrast option.Jaedxmas07 copy

You’ll end up with something like this

I’ve had it enlarged and it now hangs on my wall in a plain black frame alongside a black and white of the Princeling as an original picture of the Pipi Princess, far better than I’d ever get at a chainstore photo studio or from a school picture.  It’s probably not technically the best photo ever, but I like it.

In addition to the black and white conversion, when I initially edited this photo in colour, it was sharpened and run through a noise filter neat image as there was some noise due to low light levels and me using a higher ISO to compensate. I also cloned out a stray hair that was hanging over the Pipi Princess’ eye and causing a distraction.

The colour image is a nice shot, the black and white image however brings out subtle shadows on her chin, checks and neck.  It’s the difference between a 60watt lamp and candle light to me.

I hope that was helpful.

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2 Responses to “How to convert colour to black and white in Photoshop”

  1. Thanks so much bee 🙂

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