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In most cases the best way to convert an image to black and white in Photoshop is to use the aptly named black and white adjustment. And the best way to apply a black and white adjustment is via an adjustment layer. In this lesson you'll see how to add a new black and white adjustment layer to get started with the process of removing color from an image. Now I should point out the wrong way to go about applying a black and white adjustment layer before we take a look at the right approach. That wrong method is to apply the black and white adjustment directly to your image. In theory you could do so by choosing image, adjustments, and then black and white.
This will allow you to apply the exact same adjustment that you could apply via the adjustment layer but without the flexibility of using an adjustment alter. In other words, it will take out all the color, but then you wont have any flexibility for making changes later. Instead, we're going to create a new black and white adjustment. There are two ways we could accomplish this. The first method is to go to the layers panel, and at the bottom of the panel, click on the half black, half white circle icon, which is the add adjustment layer button. We can then choose black and white from the pop up menu, to To add a new black and white adjustment layer.
The other method is to go over to the home page of the adjustments panel. As long as I don't have an adjustment layer active, the adjustments panel itself will show me a list of options related to the addition of a new adjustment layer. In this case, the half black and half white square icon, is the black and white adjustment. So I could simply click on that option, and a new black and white adjustment layer is added. And note, that all of the controls for my black and white adjustment, are now shown on the adjustments panel, ready for me to get started working on this image. And because I'm working on an adjustment layer I'm not permanently committing the changes to the image.
I can always return to this adjustment layer and make refinements or even remove the adjustment layer altogether if I decide that this is just not the direction I want to take an image. Using an adjustment layer for your black and white conversion will ensure maximum flexibility in your workflow. In fact, it is rare that I create a black and white interpretation of an image without starting from a black and white adjustment layer.
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