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Photoshop Top 40
Illustration by John Hersey

36. Black and white


From:

Photoshop Top 40

with Deke McClelland

Video: 36. Black and white

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #36 is Black & White, which allows you to convert a full color image to black and white on a color-by-color basis. So in other words, you have independent control over the Reds and the Yellows and the Greens and so on. I happened to be looking at an image from Creatista, and we are going to take these goth girls here and turn them into black & white and preserve some colors as well, as you are about to see. So I am going to start things off by going over to my Adjustments palette here inside Photoshop CS4.

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Photoshop Top 40
7h 13m Intermediate Dec 21, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

There's nothing people love more than lists, and Photoshop Top 40 offers a great one, highlighting the best features in Photoshop. Deke McClelland counts down to #1 with a new video each week, detailing one great feature after another in this popular digital imaging application. The videos cover tools, commands, and concepts, emphasizing what's really important in Photoshop.

This is an ongoing course that will be updated monthly.

For the newest updates please go to our blog entry for Deke's Photoshop Top 40.

Topics include:
  • Assembling multiple pieces of artwork with layer comps
  • Creating a black-and-white image from a color photograph
  • Merging multiple channels to create an alpha channel with calculations
  • Selecting images with the Pen tool
  • Masking images using the Brush tool
Subjects:
Design Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

36. Black and white

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #36 is Black & White, which allows you to convert a full color image to black and white on a color-by-color basis. So in other words, you have independent control over the Reds and the Yellows and the Greens and so on. I happened to be looking at an image from Creatista, and we are going to take these goth girls here and turn them into black & white and preserve some colors as well, as you are about to see. So I am going to start things off by going over to my Adjustments palette here inside Photoshop CS4.

If you are working inside Photoshop CS3, you could just drop down to this little Black & White icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and chose Black & White. So either that, or as they say in Photoshop CS4, we can go over to this Black & White icon, click on it in order to add this layer of black & white, and you can see immediately, you do convert the image to a black & white photo. But the question is, do you like the conversion you have applied or not? Now, probably you are going to want to go in and mess with your sliders right here, which as I say allows you to control the luminance of the Reds, Yellows, Greens, and so on independently of each other.

If you want to let Photoshop take a swing at things, you can click on the Auto button and see what it comes up with. But I am here to tell you I think you are going to get the best results if you start moving the sliders around. And notice, for example, I am going to grab this Yellow slider right there, and I will brighten it, and you can see how that's really taking up the flesh tones, really brightening them up. I am taking them too far though, because you can see some posterization that is harsh luminance transitions inside of the face of the rear model. Now, if you wanted to make the flesh tones really dark, you could take this Yellow's value down.

That's getting pretty gruesome I think. I am going to take it to 80 in the case of this image, like so. Another way to work, as opposed to just dragging slider values around or entering numerical values, is to grab this guy right here, the Target Adjustment tool. Now, this tool is new to Photoshop CS4, I should mention that. It does not exist in CS3. But what you do is after you click on it, and it is a fully functioning tool. It kind of belongs over here on the toolbox actually, but it doesn't work with all the Color Adjustment functions, and then you drag around inside of your image in order to change the value that is found underneath the cursor.

So in my case, I am once again changing the Yellows. I don't really want to do that. I want to grab the Reds. So I am going to drag inside of her eye. She has got brown eyes, and that should end up grabbing that Red value, but of course, in my case right now, it's grabbing Yellows once again. Let's see what happens if I drag inside of the hair. That now gets me the Red. So that's good. All right. So you can see that that is also affecting the flesh tones, because the flesh tones are really going to resonate in Reds and Yellows, inside of any photograph regardless of race, creed, color, all that jazz. I am going to take this value up to, I think, about 30 actually should work pretty well for this image.

Now I am just going to enter a few other values. We don't really have that many Greens. These are some values that I found by trial and error before. I am going to take the Greens to 50. I am going to boost the Cyans to 100. And watch as I do, I want you to see that I am only going to affect this foreground model's earrings. So I am going to take this Cyan value up to 100, like so. It just selects that outer ring, and that's it. So you sometimes have this incredibly fine tuned control over your image using this Black & White function. I am going to take the Blues up to 50, which is going to brighten up the rear model's jacket, and then I am going to take the Magenta value to 70.

And these are the values I want to work with. Now, I can also go ahead and infuse my black & white photograph with a little bit of sepia if I want to, or some other color, by clicking on this Tint checkbox. So I will go ahead and turn that on, and we get this overwhelming amount of sepia, in my opinion. So I will click on this little Color Swatch. In Photoshop CS3 you have independent Hue and Saturation controls by the way. I am going to leave my Hue value set to 42 degrees, which is what it's set to by default, which is right in the orange-yellow range. And then I am going to take the Saturation value, the S value, and I am going to reduce it to 10%, like so.

I am not going to worry about Brightness. Click OK, and we end up with this effect here. Now, because we applied Black & White as an adjustment layer, I also have a layer mask to work with. So tell you what I am going to do. I am going to Shift+Tab away my right side palette so I have a little more room to work. Then I am going to go over here and grab my Brush tool, and I am going to make sure that my Foreground Color is set to black, as it is. I will make my brush larger by pressing the Right Bracket key a couple of times. And then I will go ahead and paint inside of this girl's frock here, in order to infuse it with red.

I will reduce the size of my brush here by pressing the Left Bracket key a couple of times. I have this mixture now of black & white. Actually, strictly speaking, it's sepia, and this bright red as well. Now, if I end up painting in to much color, as I have over here, you can see the purple inside the rear model's jacket, I will go ahead and press the X key in order to swap the foreground and background colors. So I am painting with white. I will make my brush even smaller by pressing the Left Bracket key a couple of times, and then I will go ahead and paint inside of the foreground model's face in order to get rid of the color that's showing up in her lips.

And the last thing I want to do is paint away the color inside of that earring. I just want to bring out these Reds right here. And now, at this point, if you feel like you went a little bit too far with the color infusion that's associated with the sepia, and I sort of feel like I have, because I want this Red to stand out even more, why then, I can go ahead and Shift+Tab my palettes back up on screen. I can click on this little Color Swatch that's associated with this Live adjustment layer, and I can reduce the Saturation value to something like. Let's say 6%. Click OK in order to accept that modification.

And that is our final effect folks, thanks to our ability to control luminance levels on a color-by-color basis, using a Black & White adjustment layer inside Photoshop.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop Top 40.


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Q: Is there a way to batch convert an entire folder of photos from the RBG color mode to the CMYK color mode without having to open and convert each individual image?
A: In the Actions panel in Photoshop, create an action that converts an image from RGB to CMYK. Then link to that action from File > Automate > Batch inside Photoshop.
Next, in the Bridge, select a folder of images. Choose Tools > Photoshop > Batch. Select the action inside the ensuing dialog box.
Or, in Photoshop, select File > Automate > Batch, and select the action and the folder inside the dialog box.
See also: Photoshop CS2 Actions & Automation, Chapter 2 “Action Essentials.”
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