This week’s technique is super quick and simple: Black and white conversion.
I know I’ve covered this in a past PSF, but I’m officially retiring the Gradient Map method of black and white conversion that I covered a few months back. PSE 5 has adjustment layers, and I feel like this is the way to go for speed, ease, and control.
Now keep in mind that there are at least a dozen different ways to convert a photo to black and white in Photoshop. And we’re not just talking about Image > Mode > Grayscale, but a true, controllable conversion.
One thing surprised me this week. I posted the poll (down a couple posts - if you haven’t voted, please do) asking about the Photoshop version you use, and I was very surprised to see that the numbers for CS/CS2/CS3 are almost the same as those for Elements. Totally not what I expected to see. I know that a few hundred isn’t necessarily a scientific sampling, but it shows me that I need to be better about posting clear instructions for the full versions of Photoshop.
So to start that off, I’ve created two very quick videos that will guide you through the one-minute process of getting a really nice, basic black and white conversion. Elements users, you’ll be using Levels. CS/CS2/CS3 users, you’ll be using both Levels and Curves.
Black and White Conversion for PSE
If you use PSE, click here (or click the screen shot below - vid will open in a new window).
Black and White Conversion for CS/CS2
If you use CS/CS2/CS3, click here (or click the screen shot - vid will open in a new window). (And probably if you use 7, you should click here too. :)
Why do I say “basic” in the tutorial?
Even though adjustment layers are an awesome and sophisticated step in Photoshop, the end result is that by making adjustments to the entire image at once, we get a lot of control over our image, but not total control. Most of the black and white conversion tutorials I read online involve mixing together the color channels that you can see in 7/CS/CS2/CS3, or creating layer masks over multiple blended layers to get a truly perfect b/w conversion. Sound time consuming? It is. We just aren’t going to go there. Not when we can get 80% of the way with 1 minute of effort. :)
However, if you’re interested in some more detailed b/w conversion steps, and you use CS/CS2/CS3 (this method uses channels, which aren’t available in PSE), check out this PDF on black and white conversion from Adobe. Very informative and interesting. :)
Why adjustment layers?
The quick answer to this is non-destructive editing. Meaning that you can add layers on top of your photo to produce the same effect that changing your photo itself has. The main benefit here is that because you haven’t made any changes to your photo, you can go back and re-do previous steps (such as making changes to your Levels adjustment) without having to undo and lose other changes.
I hope you enjoy these. I’ll get a layout put together with a black and white photo as well. Because I’m all about layouts. :D
Have a wonderful, phabulous, photoshop phriday. :) I can’t wait to see your beautiful black + whites. :)