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Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black and White grayscale BW

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  • Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black and White grayscale BW

    Last update: May 2011
    ----------------------
    AN ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL RESOURCE (big thanks to RP member sehmuz)

    www.blackandwhitedigital.com/Convert/index.html
    * Methods summary and comparison
    * Theory
    * Other links

    Also: See this thread:
    http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/pho...tml#post291433

    - - - - -
    December 2010

    Rudolf's Black and White Works plugin http://www.rudolf.it.pl/bw_works.html

    - - - - -
    August 2008

    Nik Silver Efex Pro (plugin)

    Info: http://www.niksoftware.com/silverefexpro/usa/entry.php
    Review: http://www.creativepro.com/article/review-silver-efex-pro

    Comments:
    * As of 12/2010, this is still my favorite BW plugin. I did not, however, upgrade to v2. I'm still happy with v1.

    ===================
    December 2002

    Of late I've taken a personal interest in this dimension of digital manipulation and decided to consolidate in this thread the useful tidbits, links and other information I have discovered. Hopefully you will find it useful.

    Some might argue (and rightfully so) that this thread belongs somewhere OTHER THAN the Photo-based Art forum. In general I would agree. But since I’m going to be linking future Photo-based Art “Basic skills” threads to it, I decided to post it here.

    I will continue to update this thread as I make new discoveries. In the mean time post links to other tutorial sites if you know of good ones.

    Enjoy.

    ~Danny~

    =======================

    Section Summary

    * I. Forums and Discussion Groups - New

    * Ia. Color to BW Conversion tutorials

    * II. Books and Magazines

    * III. Several methods, some common, others less so, for converting color images to grayscale using Photoshop.

    * IV. Plugins

    * V. Photoshop Actions

    * VI. Galleries


    =================================
    I. Forums, Discussion Groups
    =================================

    Fred Miranda Black and White Vision
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/board/43

    Photo Camel
    http://photocamel.com/forum/black-white/
    Not a lot of discussion on technique, but a continuous flow of outstanding examples.

    Mastering Digital B&W Forum(moderated byAmadou Diallo, author of Mastering Digital B&W)
    http://www.masteringdigitalbwbook.com/forums/
    Not a lot of activity, but a good place to engage the author on about any topic (he’s very knowledgeable about Photoshop, photography, gear, etc.) as well as anything in his book.

    Digital BW, The Print - Yahoo group
    http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/DigitalBlackandWhiteThePrint/
    Most of the folks who participate in this Yahoo group are heavyweights who breathe, dream about and eat serious BW printing topics 24 hr./day.


    =================================
    Ia. Color to BW conversion tutorials
    =================================
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    From right here at RetouchPRO:
    AFrazier method:
    - CS3 and later: Shadow/Highlight and multiple BW adjustments + Apply Image on B channel
    - PS7 version method: scroll down a ways
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/cri...technique.html

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    From right here at RetouchPRO:
    "Some techniques for converting a color image to black and white"
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    http://retouchpro.com/tutorials/?m=show&id=92

    Written by RetouchPRO member Leah. Sort of a visual version of this thread.

    Great example images and to the point.

    Q: So, how come this thread and Leah's tutorial?
    A: I started this thread a couple years before Leah crafted her tutorial.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Deke McClelland
    "It's Like a Little Ansel Adams Inside Photoshop"
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Using the new CS3 BW adjustment layer and updated Camera Raw dialog.

    http://www.creativepro.com/story/howto/25764.html


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    Dan Koyanagi
    "Black and White Digital Photography "
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    http://www.blackandwhitedigital.com/

    In a word: Excellent.

    Color theory, methods, examples. Don't miss this one.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Thomas Niemann, Epaperpress.com:
    "Converting to Grayscale"
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    http://epaperpress.com/psphoto/bwGrayscale.html

    NOTE: Click on the BLACK AND WHITE choice on the left; then the GRAYSCALE option below that.

    This tutorial clearly illustrates how to use a Channel Mixer adjustment layer to simulate traditional color filters (the lens kind, not the Photoshop kind). This is one of the best crafted tutorials I've seen. Don't miss this one.

    While you're at it, check out the rest of the tutorials on this site. They are well written and the illustrations are quite good. Top notch.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    From Chainstyle.com:
    "Color to Black & White"
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    http://www.chainstyle.com/tutorials/color_bw.html
    This is an easy-to-follow tutorial and nicely illustrated tutorial. Very good side-by-side examples.

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    Darwin Wiggett:
    "Great Black-n-White Photos From Colour Film "
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CLICK HERE to jump to an article that describes various methods, including one on how to combine channels using Photoshop's "calculations" command.

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    Robert D. Feinman:
    "Using Color Film to Make Black and White Prints"
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CLICK HERE to be taken to a Robert D. Feinman's take on why there's no point to shoot with black and white film anymore. It's quite an enlightening presentation with excellent graphics.

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    KentC:
    "Using Color Film to Make Black and White Prints"
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    This is Kent's comprehensive list of BW resources:
    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1006&message=28969792

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    David Rowley Tutorial
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CLICK HERE to be taken to a David Rowley tutorial that isn't as comprehensive as what follows, but it DOES have pictures!

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    Jeff Schewe (master photographer):
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    http://www.pixelgenius.com/tips/schewe-color-bw.pdf

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    John Paul Caponigro (master photographer)
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Tutorials
    http://www.adobe.com/digitalimag/pdf...conversion.pdf
    http://www.adobe.com/digitalimag/pdf...2it_bwconv.pdf

    Action: http://www.adobe.com/digitalimag/dow...conversion.atn

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    Greg Gorman (master photographer)
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    http://www.creativepro.com/story/feature/21850.html
    http://www.gormanphotography.com/bw_conversion.pdf
    http://www.designbyfire.com/?p=17

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    Ken Rockwell
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/photoshop/b-w.htm

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    Russell Preston Brown (Adobe evangelist)
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    http://www.RussellBrown.com

    There are a couple tutorials on BW on his site. Look around.

    Also see topic Russell Brown Method below.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    David Riecks - Custom Grayscale Conversions
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    http://www.riecks.com/forphotogs/rgb_grayscale.html


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    Jay Ryness (Auto levels)
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    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1006&thread=25110884

    Don't be misled by the name. This method is quite innovative.

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    Petteri Sulonen - Petteri's Pontifications
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    http://www.prime-junta.net/pont/How_to/n_Digital_BW/a_Digital_Black_and_White.html


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    Martin Evening - B&W in RAW using Lightroom
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    http://lightroom-news.com/2007/08/24/tips-for-better-black-and-white-conversions/

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Links to other tutorials:
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    * Video: http://tips.watchandlearnphotoshop.c...onversion.html - courtesy of Rense at Photocamel.com

    http://denmuel.blogspot.com/2007/10/high-contrast-black-and-white.html
    Calculations command. The music is a little obnoxious, but the illustration is pretty good.

    * http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/bwfromcol.html

    * http://www.oaktree-imaging.com/knowledge/digital_bw

    * http://luanneseymour.wordpress.com/2...-to-grayscale/


    * http://www.adobe.com/designcenter/li...convertbw.html

    * Using a gradient:
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic2/152740/

    * Loooog discussion at DPReview: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=11151580
    * The basics: http://www.eyesondesign.net/pshop/bw...ting_to_bw.htm
    * http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...lack-white.htm
    * http://www.outbackphoto.com/artof_b_w/bw_05/essay.html
    * http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/a...and-white.html
    * http://raymondshay.com/tutorials/ColorToBW/index.htm
    * http://luminous-landscape.com/tutori...w_better.shtml

    * Part 1 - http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=13649572
    * Part 2 - http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=13649694

    Discussion, pros/cons:
    * http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...hread=26449598

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    www.luminous-landscape.com
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    This is a great site (in general). Good info here, especially the example of using Channel Mixer:
    http://luminous-landscape.com/essays/bw-revival.shtml

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    www.Photocamel.com
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    There is a wealth of great BW info, tutorials and a great BW discussion/critique forum here:
    http://photocamel.com/forum/black-white/
    Don't miss these threads...
    * http://photocamel.com/forum/image-ed...n-methods.html

    * http://photocamel.com/forum/black-wh...tml#post232652

    ...and by all means register and download the very cool Minmaxer BW plugin written by Rense. Check the downloads section for the link.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Digital BW, The Print - Yahoo group
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    http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/D...WhiteThePrint/

    Most of the folks who participate in this Yahoo group are heavyweights who breathe, dream about and eat serious BW printing topics 24 hr./day.

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    Digidaan - Channel Mixer presets
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    http://www.digidaan.nl/indexframedig...xer/index.html


    =================================
    II. Books and Magazines
    =================================

    * Mastering Black and White Digital Photography, Michael Freeman

    The absolute most complete book on the subject I have read in terms of conversion methods. Excellent topic coverage. Over 90% of the content pertains to native Photoshop functions. There is brief mention of 3rd party plugins. The only downside is that most topics are addressed in two pages; I wish there had been more depth on many subjects.

    Rating: Very, very good.

    - - - - -

    NEW! 2007-12

    * Black and White in Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop Lightroom, Leslie Alsheimer with Bryan O'Neil Hughes

    Light on conversion methods, but great coverage on high volume digital workflow.

    Topics include:
    * Color theory and how it applies to BW
    * Workspace setup, monitors, monitor calibration, ambient lighting
    * Image capture, seeing in color with BW in mind
    * Scanning considerations
    * Histogram interpretation (excellent coverage)
    * Lightroom workflow: import, backup, rename, keyword assignment, ranking, editing, global adjustments, export, archive, where Bridge fits in, converting to BW and achieving split toning effects in Lightroom
    * Adobe Camera Raw: where it fits in to the BW workflow
    * Image editing in Photoshop: non-desttuctive methods, adjustment layers, sharpening, dealing with digital noise, a thorough presentation of the basic conversion techniques, complete presentation of the role of color filters play in BW. PS content is applicable to most versions of PS except for coverage on the CS3 specific BW adjustment layer.
    * Printing: from PS vs. Lightroom, soft proofing, driver settings
    * There is brief mention of 3rd party plugins.

    I found the Lightroom discussion enlightening. Very good overview on LR functions, capabilities and the step-by-step workflow is logical and well written. Up until now the value and benefits of Lightroom were not clear to me or how it fits into the big picture. I get it now.

    Rating: Very, very good, especially if you want to learn how PS, Bridge and Lightroom work together.

    - - - - -

    * Mastering Digital Black and White, Amadou Diallo

    With the exception of conversion methods which are touched on over three pages (CS3 BW adjustment layer, channel mixer, calculations), this is the absolute most complete book on the subject I have read in terms of soup to nuts topic coverage: Cameras, scanners, digital capture considerations, color theory, color management, end-to-end workflow, sharpening, ACR considerations, masking to combine the best of each layer or to selectively apply effects, printing (do it yourself vs. outsource), printers, papers, inks, print driver settings (mostly Epson), making fine art prints, creating a portfolio. It's like the Bible of digital BW topics.

    Rating: Very, very good if you are looking for "the big picture" and not so much Photoshop conversion methods.

    - - - - -

    * Black & White Photography Techniques with Adobe Photoshop, Maurice Hamilton

    More in depth coverage on some subjects than Mastering Black and White Digital Photography.

    Rating: Good but not great.

    - - - - -

    * Welcome to Oz, Vincent Versace

    While this book is not dedicated to BW, his methods and the concepts presented definitely apply. This book more than any other helped me "see the light" when it comes to visualizing a final BW outcome before pressing the shutter release.

    The content in Chapter 5: Creating a Black-and-white image from an RGB file is exceptional in my opinion.

    Rating: Very good.

    - - - - -

    * 100 Ways To Take Better Black & White Photographs, Michael Milton

    No discussion on Photoshop. The focus is on characteristics of a good BW photo, subject ideas and considerations, e.g., lighting, reflections, texture, contrast, landscape and architecture issues, etc. Very little coverage on people as subjects.

    Rating:
    * Good if you're looking for inspiration and/or visual ideas on candidates for BW images. Some of the images are quite impressive.
    * Not so good if you're looking for specific photographic or Photoshop techniques or ideas on shooting people.

    - - - - -

    * Black & White Magazine, http://www.bandwmag.com/

    Published monthly. Page after page of BW images from high end photographers. Fine art photography at its best.
    Note: I cancelled my subscription after a year, not because content was bad, but with 12 issues of 140-155 pages, I had plenty of BW inspiration for quite some time.

    See reviews here for a good flavor of content:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/cus...zines&x=10&y=7

    Rating: Very good.

    =================================
    III. Summary of Methods / Tools for Converting Images from Color to Black and White
    =================================

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Mode = Grayscale
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    First, IMAGE > DUPLICATE

    A. Image > Mode > Grayscale


    PROS:
    * Reduces file size considerably.
    * All layers are converted (if a multi-layer image) vs. the Desaturate command, which affects only the selected layer..

    CONS:
    * You’ve got to live with Photoshop’s conversion interpretation. What you see is what you get. In Channel Mixer terms: R=30%, G=59%, B=11%.
    * If any color related adjustment layers are present in the original image, for example Hue/Saturation or Color Balance, they will be deleted.
    * The grayscale mode does not support color. To reintroduce color into the image at a future time, the mode will need to be changed to one that supports color, e.g., RGB, Lab or CMYK.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Desaturate command
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    First, LAYER > DUPLICATE

    A. IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > Desaturate


    PROS:
    * It’s easy. For photo-art purposes 85% of this time this is sufficient.
    * Color can still be applied to the image if desired.

    CONS:
    * The command only affects the selected layer; one cannot desaturate more than one layer at a time in a multi-layer image.
    * You’ve got to live with Photoshop’s conversion interpretation. What you see is what you get. In Channel Mixer terms: R=33%, G=33%, B=33%.


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    Hue/Saturation command
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    First, LAYER > DUPLICATE

    A. Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation
    B. Saturation slider: Drag to the far left (value = -100)


    PROS:
    * If you want to leave a little color in the image, you may, e.g., set the Saturation value to, say, -80.
    * Using the Edit dropdown menu, the desaturation effect can be applied to individual colors vs. the entire color spectrum.
    * Color can easily be reintroduced into the image by painting black on the mask.
    * If a multi-layer image, all visible layers are affected vs. the Desaturate command which affects only the selected layer..

    CONS:
    * Once the effect is applied, there’s no way to easily change it.
    * You’ve got to live with Photoshop’s interpretation / conversion algorithm. What you see is what you get. Saturation = -100 translates to Channel Mixer R=33%, G=33%, B=33%.

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    Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    A. Layer > New Adjustment Layer… Hue/Saturation

    PROS:
    * Same as Method 3.
    * The desaturation effect can be applied to the entire image –or– localized to the layer below the adjustment layer. (Layer > Group with Previous).
    * Since this is an adjustment layer, its parameters can be tweaked anytime.
    * Since this is an adjustment layer, it’s very easy to restore color from the image below by utilizing an Adjustment Layer Mask. (See xxxx for a Layer Mask tutorial.)

    CONS:
    * If you go for maximum desaturation (Saturation value of –100), you’ve got to live with Photoshop’s interpretation / conversion algorithm: Channel Mixer R=33%, G=33%, B=33%.

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    New with CS3: BW Adjustment Layer
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    Early reports are that this is a really powerful tool. See:
    http://av.adobe.com/russellbrown/CS3Color_To_BWSM.mov

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    Pick a Color Channel, Any Color Channel
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    See: http://www.picturecorrect.com/photos...conversion.htm

    A. Be sure this preference setting is OFF: ”Color Channels in Color”

    B. Window > Channels (to show the Channels palette)
    C. While holding down the CTRL key, press 1, 2 and 3 for an RGB image and 1, 2, 3 and 4 for a CMYK image to easily switch among and assess the individual channels.

    NOTE: In CMYK mode, the K (BlacK) channel will most likely be the only useful one among the four.

    D. Decide which one looks best. If in RGB mode, Green and Red are the two most likely candidates.
    E. SELECT > All
    F. EDIT > Copy
    F. Click the thumbnail image next to RGB (or CYMK) at the top of the Channels palette.
    G. Click the Layers tab.
    H. If the image only has a Background and no other layers, click the ‘New Layer’ icon at the bottom of the Layers palette, otherwise skip this step.
    I. EDIT > Paste to create (or populate) a new grayscale layer.
    J. Optional, but recommended. Right click on the layer name assigned by Photoshop and give the new layer an applicable name, such as “Red Channel.”

    PROS:
    * You get to decide on the results.
    * Color is still an easy option.

    CONS:
    * Choices are limited to the number of color channels, but you’ll have more choices than if you convert grayscale mode.


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    Use the “L” channel from an image converted to Lab Color mode
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    A. IMAGE > Duplicate (image name of duplicate makes no difference)
    B. IMAGE > MODE > Lab Color
    C. Click on the Channels palette tab.
    D. Select the L channel.
    E. EDIT > Copy
    F. Click the original image to select it.
    G. Click the ‘New Layer’ icon at the bottom of the Layers palette.
    H. EDIT > Paste to create a new layer based on the Luminosity (L) channel.
    I. Optional, but recommended. Right click on the layer name assigned by Photoshop and give it a custom name, such as “L Channel.”
    J. Close (and don’t save) the duplicate image that was converted to Lab mode. It is no longer needed.


    PROS:
    * The L channel gives slightly different results than other channels.
    * Applying color if desired is still an easy option

    CONS:
    * What you see is what you get.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Channel Mixer command
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Before engaging this method, click the Channels tab and inspect the color channels as described in Method 5 above. If you like, say, mostly the Red channel and the Green channel slightly, with the following you can in effect ‘combine’ them.

    First, LAYER > DUPLICATE

    A. IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > Channel Mixer
    B. Click the ‘monochrome’ box.
    C. Adjust the R, G and B (or C, M, Y and K) sliders and the Constant slider until the desired results are achieved.

    Note: When the dialog box opens, the Red (or Cyan) channel set to 100 = 100% of the corresponding channel. 80 Red, 20 Green = 80% Red, 20% Green. Some advocate a rule of thumb that the total values for the channels should be in the neighborhood of 100 (100%). My opinion: Use this as a guideline. Use whatever setting combination results in a look that's pleasing to you or your customer.

    PROS:
    * A considerable amount of flexibility during the initial application.

    CONS:
    * Using the command version of Channel Mixer (vs. the adjustment layer method) offers ZERO flexibility when it comes to after-the-fact adjustments. Recommendation: Use the Channel Mixer adjustment layer instead. See following.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    BEST BET (usually): Photoshop's Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    See http://luminous-landscape.com/essays/bw-revival.shtml

    Before engaging this method, click the Channels tab and inspect the color channels as described in Method 5 above. If you like, say, mostly the Red channel and the Green channel slightly, with the following you can in effect ‘combine’ them.

    A. LAYER > NEW ADJUSTMENT LAYER > Channel Mixer
    B. Click the ‘monochrome’ box.
    C. Adjust the R, G and B (or C, M, Y and K) sliders and the Constant slider until the desired results are achieved.

    Note: When the dialog box opens, the Red (or Cyan) channel set to 100 = 100% of the corresponding channel. 80 Red, 20 Green = 80% Red, 20% Green. Some advocate a rule of thumb that the total values for the channels should be in the neighborhood of 100 (100%). My opinion: Use this as a guideline. Use whatever setting combination results in a look that's pleasing to you or your customer.

    PROS:
    * A considerable amount of initial flexibility.
    * Once the dialog is closed, further adjustments can be made.
    * Like the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, through the use of an Adjustment Layer mask, color can be selectively restored.

    CONS:
    * None that I can think of.

    Note: In some cases for photo-art purposes it may be necessary to create a separate grayscale layer before continuing on. To do so create yet another new layer above the adjustment layer and, while holding down the ALT key, choose LAYER > Merge Visible. This will create a new layer without collapsing the originals.)

    Channel Mixer monochrome R, G, B settings for simulating various film types:
    Agfa 200X: 18,41,41
    Agfapan 25: 25,39,36
    Agfapan 100: 21,40,39
    Agfapan 400: 20,41,39

    Ilford Delta 100: 21,42,37
    Ilford Delta 400: 22,42,36
    Ilford Delta 400 Pro: 31,36,33

    Ilford FP4: 28,41,31
    Ilford HP5: 23,37,40
    Ilford Pan F: 33,36,31
    Ilford SFX: 36,31,33
    Ilford XP2 Super: 21,42,37

    Kodak Tmax 100: 24,37,39
    Kodak Tmax 400: 27,36,37
    Kodak Tri-X: 25,35,40


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Russell Brown Method
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Check out his “Seeing in Black & White” tutorial here. It’s quite good, as are most of his tutorials.
    http://www.russellbrown.com/tips_tech.html

    Search on Seeing in Black & White

    PROS:
    * A considerable amount of flexibility. For those into serious grayscale imaging, it’s very powerful.
    * Further adjustments can be made since it is based on adjustment layers.

    CONS:
    * A little complicated to understand initially. For photo-based art, it may be overkill.

    Notes:
    * Try replacing the 2nd (the one closest to the bottom of the layer stack) Hue/Sat adjustment layer with a Selective Color adjustment layer. You can also include a Color Balance adjustment layer as well.
    * A method by Digidaan is similar to this one.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Photoshop's Calculations command
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    The obscure and scary looking Image > Calculations command is among Photoshop's hidden gems.

    This excellent tutorial will get you going in no time:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=17082710

    Another good one:
    * Calculations: http://news.deviantart.com/article/17530/

    PROS:
    * A considerable amount of flexibility.

    CONS:
    * Unintuitive dialog (see eye opening tutorial above)
    * Awkward to use. Each setting change requires another trip through the dialog.
    * Once the layer is rendered, it cannot be easily modified as can be done using a Channel Mixer adjustment layer.
    * Limited to combining only two channels at a time.

    E-mail me if you'd like a PS action I wrote that greatly simplifies this process.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Photoshop Variations command
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Image > Adjustment > Variations
    * Choose option Saturation
    * Set the slider to Course
    * Click the left ("Less") preview a few times
    * Move the slider toward Fine
    * Now click Shadows, Midtones or Highlights
    * Click the preview windows of choice until you are satisfied with the results

    PROS:
    * Easy to use.
    * Further adjustments can be made based on color channels.
    * Settings can be saved and loaded.
    * This command can be recorded in an action.

    CONS:
    * It's not an adjustment layer.
    * Small preview windows make it difficult to fully assess the result until the command is applied.


    =================================
    IV. PLUGINS
    =================================
    FREE: Rudolf's Black and White Works plugin
    http://www.rudolf.it.pl/bw_works.html

    PROS:
    * FREE
    * Very good flexibility.
    * Easy to use; easy to learn to use.
    * Presets can be saved.

    CONS:
    * Small preview window.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Fred Miranda's BW Workflow Pro
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/shopping/BW

    PROS:
    * Very good flexibility.
    * Easy to use; easy to learn to use.
    * Relatively inexpensive compared to other plugins.

    CONS:
    * Custom settings cannot be saved or loaded.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Minmaxer
    Available from the downloads section at http://www.Photocamel.com

    A really neat plugin crafted by Rense.

    PROS:
    * FREE to Photocamel members
    * Easy to use
    * Great results
    * Renders quickly

    CONS:
    * Preview window is small
    * No documentation that I could find on settings

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Other plugins:
    * Black & White Studio: http://powerretouche.com/Black-white...n_tutorial.htm
    * Virtual Photographer (free): http://www.optikvervelabs.com
    * B/W Styler (thePluginSite): http://www.thepluginsite.com/product...owiz/bwstyler/
    * Nik Silver Effects Pro: http://www.niksoftware.com/silverefexpro/usa/entry.php
    * Many from which to choose here: http://www.silveroxide.com/
    * Photo plugins.com: (donation-ware) http://www.photo-plugins.com/Plugins...version-2.html
    * Pog's: http://gopog.net/2006/03/27/pogs-mon...31-2006-01-01/
    * Pog's update: http://gopog.net/2007/11/12/mono-ren...pdated-to-391/

    =================================
    V. PHOTOSHOP ACTIONS
    =================================

    There are numerous "convert color to BW" actions at these sites:
    * http://www.AtnCentral.com
    * http://epaperpress.com/psphoto/bwGrayscale.html
    * http://www.TheLightsRight.com

    ==================================================

    - - - - - - - - - - -
    KEY POINTS
    - - - - - - - - - - -

    * There are many methods for converting a color image (or color layer) to grayscale. Each has its own pros and cons.

    * Use the method that works best for you in a given situation.

    * Probably 85% of the time Channel Mixer with the Monochrome turned on will yield favorable results.

    * Using adjustment layers like Channel Mixer and Hue/Saturation (Saturation = -100) allows one to vary the degree of the effect through the Opacity Setting or "add color back in" by painting black on the mask.



    =================================
    VI. GALLERIES
    =================================

    http://www.jpgmag.com/people/kmanz
    http://www.thespiderawards.com/


    = = = = = = = = = = = =

    OK. That's it for now.

    PLU-EEZE offer suggestions on other links where one will find tutorials or Photoshop actions.

    Questions and comments are always welcome.

    Keep having fun.
    Last edited by DannyRaphael; 05-22-2011, 04:59 PM. Reason: Update links, content

  • #2
    Reserved for future use.

    Reserved for future use.
    Last edited by DannyRaphael; 07-28-2006, 02:54 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black and White grayscale BW

      Issue #6 of the free Plugs 'N Pixels ezine discusses the various software (plug-in and app) options for monochrome conversion.
      DISCOUNTED plug-ins, FREE digital imaging ezine archive and PHOTO BLOG:
      www.plugsandpixels.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black

        Wonderful reference thread. Thanks.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black

          Originally posted by jauburn View Post
          Wonderful reference thread. Thanks.
          Welcome to RetouchPRO and thanks for your kind words...

          FYI: Check out Section II above. I just added a revew for a pretty decent book recently published by Focal Press, Black and White in Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop Lightroom.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black

            Dear Danny:
            This is my very first post on this forum. I have to tell you that I'm really impress by your Tut Converting Color Image to B&W. Congratulations for an exceptionally well done job. As a traditional darkroom photographer now moving in to digital darkroom I find this tut to be a real treassure. I'll be camping and spending a lot of time right here. I never had seen so much valuable information in a single place. You had done a tremendous contribution.

            THANK YOU,

            Don Diego

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black

              Hi Danny, thank you for the plenty information provided on this topic. Besides the channel-mixer option there is also the split channel method, which gives you even more control. Open a RGB image, switch to the channels palette and press the little triangel menue which lets you choose split channel, This will separate the file into 3 separate greyscale channels. These can be dragged on top of each other and modify bending and opacity to your liking (while dragging the Shift key should be held in order to maintain the layer registration) further masks can be applied if needed. Hope that helps a little.

              Greetings to all

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black

                Bookmarked this one. I'm becoming a B & W addict.

                Comment


                • #9
                  BW: Gradient layer & using Lightroom

                  Originally posted by teddy_90 View Post
                  Bookmarked this one. I'm becoming a B & W addict.
                  I know what you mean.

                  Welcome to RetouchPRO. Hope you learn a lot and enjoy doing it.

                  =========================================

                  Here are a couple new tidbits:

                  1. Lightroom for BW conversions.
                  http://lightroom-news.com/2007/08/24/tips-for-better-black-and-white-conversions/

                  ----------------------------

                  2a. Using a Gradient layer in Photoshop (thanks to mikajomc for the heads up...).
                  http://www.photoshopdigest.com/photo-effects/black-and-white-portrait/

                  I believe I'd use Curves before Brightness/Contrast in the last step.

                  2b. Using a Gradient and Channel Mixer layers in Photoshop.
                  http://www.inmyspace.com/ian/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=32&Itemid=46

                  Of the two methods that use a Gradient layer, I prefer 2b because it's more flexible.
                  Last edited by DannyRaphael; 02-29-2008, 04:23 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black

                    See AFrazier's innovative method here:

                    http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/cri...technique.html

                    --> CS3 or later.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black

                      That link, several posts down, now covers as early as Photoshop 7.0 as well.

                      Thanks Danny.

                      ==============

                      Thanks for including the PS7 steps; I noted that above. -djr
                      Last edited by DannyRaphael; 04-22-2008, 08:25 AM. Reason: add note about content update

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black

                        New: I. Forums and Discussion Groups

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black

                          Another masterful work
                          Thanks Danny

                          Regards
                          Bob Mc

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Gradient layer

                            See Michael Spotts method here:

                            http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...6021195&page=1

                            Near the end of thread is a link to download some of his actions, including one that applies a custom BW gradient.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Tutorial 05: Converting a Color Image to Black

                              Plugin discovery: http://www.rudolf.it.pl/bw_works.html

                              Comment

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