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Photoshop CS4 tutorial: Creating black and white images

Want to turn a coloured image to black & white? Well there's a few ways you can achieve this in Photoshop.

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Turning a coloured image to black and white in Photoshop CS4

Desaturate an image in Photoshop CS4In Photoshop there are several ways you can turn a coloured image black & white and this tutorial will demonstrate a few of them. All produce various results and some are more complicated then others so just take a look, have a go and see which you like best.

First, we'll start off by simply desaturating the image.

Open your image and go to image>adjust>desaturate and once you've clicked, your image will be black & white. Simple.

Coloured image desaturated in Photoshop CS4
The image before and after desaturate was applied.

Next, you can use the channels window to turn your image to black & white. You'll notice you have RGB, red, green and blue channels and by clicking on the red, green and blue channels individually, you'll see your image change. All three channels create the black & white appearance with a slightly different tone.

Channels Photoshop CS4 - RED Channels Photoshop CS4 - GREEN Channels Photoshop CS4 - BLUE

Once you find one you like, go to select>select all then Eedit>copy and past the new image into a new layer or document.

Using channels to change an image to black and white in Photoshop CS4
See how using the different channels change the image.

Hue/Saturation pannel in Photoshop CS4 Finally, we'll be using an adjustment layer.

Open your image and create a new adjustment layer  ( hue/saturation) either in the layers panel or by going to layer>new adjustment layer>hue/saturation.

This will open a new window where you can rename the layer, once you've done this click ok. From here, another window will open with three sliders in: hue, saturation and lightness. Pull the saturation slider down to the left and you'll see it changes the colour of the image. You can also more the lightness slider to make the image darker if you wish.

Once you're happy click ok and your image is complete.
Changing the Hue/Saturation to turn an image to black and white in Photoshop CS4
How changing the saturation can make an image appear to be black & white.

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3 Feb 2010 4:50PM
I think a better way to do this is to use the channel mixer. It gives you more control. Instead of just picking the Red Blue or Green channel you can choose how much of each one you want to use and really dial in the look of the image to your preference. You can do this to the actual image or as an adjustment layer I believe.
Another simple (and different) way to do this is by using a gradient map. Go to Image, Adjustments, Gradient Map and select the black and white gradient.
6 Feb 2010 9:43PM
cheesefarther is spot on its the best way ive found to convert to b/w plenty of punch............
NickBradley 12 70 3 Australia
8 Feb 2010 4:40AM
I can't believe the Black & White adjustment panel and Channels were completely overlooked.

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