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Create monochrome filter effects in Photoshop 6

Create monochrome filter effects in Photoshop 6 - A digital imaging technique using Photoshop 6 to apply to colour images, to reproduce the effects created when coloured filters are used with a monochrome film.

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Category : Adobe Photoshop
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This technique uses Photoshop 6 to apply to colour images, the effects created when coloured filters are used with a monochrome film.

The Startpoint, Barra Lighthouse, John
The original image
The Startpoint, Barra Lighthouse,  John
What I was aiming for, the end result
The Startpoint, Barra Lighthouse,  John
The effect fully applied, too extreme!

The steps are as follows:

The Result, Barra Lighthouse,  John

Open the image in Photoshop.
I've used the Photoshop file 'Example.PSD' . You can use any colour image as long as the image type supports layers and editing supports the Channel Mixer.


Duplicate Layer settings

Duplicate the background layer.

  • Menu 'Layer -> New -> Layer via Copy...'
  • This displays the dialog shown above
  • I've changed the default layer name to 'Monochrome

Your layers list should now look like the one on the right.

We now have a duplicate colour image which we are going to convert into a high contrast Monochrome image.

The 'key' to this part is understanding that the conversion to Monochrome involves a creative decision.

This example uses a 'classic' Monochrome technique, the use of a Red Filter to boost a blue sky.

However, I have also used this technique on a tumbledown woodland house where the creative decision was much harder - this technique could be used to either isolate the house from the background and show the decaying house, or to highlight the foliage and tell a story about the house being reclaimed by the wood.

Layers after

Channel Mixer settings

Apply the Channel Mixer to the 'Monochrome' Layer to create a high contrast Monochrome image.

  • Make sure the 'Monochrome' layer is selected
  • Menu 'Image -> Adjust -> Channel Mixer...'
  • Tick the 'Monochrome' box at the bottom left of the Channel Mixer
  • Play with the sliders to get a high contrast black and white image. I used 200% Red, -50% Blue, -50% Green and 0% Constant. A rule of thumb is that all four numbers should add up to 100%

We are using the channel mixer to achieve the same effect as placing a strong Red filter over the camera lens when exposing a black and white film.

The use of negative numbers in the Channel Mixer means that we have created a filter that cannot exist in the real world. Negative numbers are like using Black (subtractive) light as opposed to White (additive)light.

If the Monochrome image is your goal, be careful as negative numbers usually make the Monochrome image look unnatural. However, negative numbers work particularly well in conjunction with the remaining steps of this technique.

These Channel Mixer values mean that the Monochrome image is made up by starting with twice as much red as was in the original image, subtracting some blue and finally subtracting some green. Any colour with more than 50% Red will result in White. Any colour with Blue or Green in it will appear darker than if the Blue or Green was not present.


After the Channel Mixer has been applied

You now have a monochrome layer with a very punchy sky.

I would have normally used a less extreme set of values (e.g. 100%, 0%, 0%, 0%), but the values used in this example show off the technique very well.


For comparison, the desaturated image

The image above is for comparison only.

This is the background layer after simple Desaturation (Menu 'Image -> Adjust -> Desaturate').

In comparison with the previous image resulting from the Channel Mixer, note how dull the ground appears and also note the lack of contrast in the the sky over the lighthouse.


Layer style settings

Now we use the punchy monochrome layer as a mask for our original colour image.

Change the blending options of the 'Monochrome' layer.

  • Make sure the 'Monochrome' layer is selected
  • Menu 'Layer -> Layer Style -> Blending Options...'
  • Change the 'Blend Mode' to 'Multiply'
  • I initially left Opacity at 100%

It shows what this technique is capable of - but it is a bit overdone for my taste! Resultant image using 100% Opacity

The way I remember what multiply does, is I think of White being the number one and Black being zero; when multiplied together the results seem to fit. The table below illustrates this:
Layer Multiplication
White(1.0) multiplied by White(1.0) gives White(1.0)
White(1.0) multiplied by Grey(0.5) gives Grey(0.5)
White(1.0) multiplied by Black(0.0) gives Black(0.0)
Grey(0.5) multiplied by White(1.0) gives Grey(0.5)
Grey(0.5) multiplied by Grey(0.5) gives DarkGrey(0.25)
Grey(0.5) multiplied by Black(0.0) gives Black(0.0)
Black(0.0) multiplied by White(1.0) gives Black(0.0)
Black(0.0) multiplied by Grey(0.5) gives Black(0.0)
Black(0.0) multiplied by Black(0.0) gives Black(0.0)

We can choose any 'flavour' we like between the original and the new extreme filter.

For this image, my preference is for an opacity of 60%

  • Make sure the 'Monochrome' layer is selected
  • Menu 'Layer -> Layer Style -> Blending Options...'
  • Change the 'Opacity' to 60%
History after application of the technique
If you have followed the steps described in this technique, then your history list should look like the one above.

The end result shown on the right is quite an impressive and atmospheric picture. Resultant image using 100% Opacity

By Duncan Simey

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Comments


This helped alot thanks!

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sm4344 7 United States
28 Jul 2007 1:07PM
Fantastic article!
10 Aug 2007 9:08AM
This is a fantastic tutorial and so useful. I always wondered how images got to look so punchy!
naveen 4 2 India
12 Nov 2009 12:13PM
very very informative, well explained...thank you very much!!
PaulLiley 5 2 13 United Kingdom
12 Nov 2009 2:15PM
Thank you. Very helpful. Great step by step clear instructions.
Thnak you for this great, easy to follow, tutorial.
Peter.

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