Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Converting a color image into black and white is a pretty common request, common thing to do, and Camera Raw gives you a lot of flexibility and power to do so, and very quickly I might as well. So there is kind of two different ways to go about it. There is just the quick -- get rid of all the color, and you can just do that with the Saturation slider. Then I'll show you the second technique where you can actually control individual colors and how they get converted into black and white. So the poor man's job, just real quick, is take the Saturation slider all the way down, and all that does is it just strips out all the color information, and you have kind of a generic black and white image here.
While I'm here in the Basic panel though, here is kind of a nice little bonus tip here for you. You maybe remember when you had your high school senior portrait taken a soft focus kind of effect was kind of all the rage. And kind of a top photographer's trick. It would smooth out skin tone and its texture and so forth. They would actually put something in front of the lens either like a piece of frosted glass or Vaseline on a filter or something like that. Of course, it's pretty easy to do post in digital imaging software, and in Camera Raw, you can actually do something with the Clarity slider. If I take the Clarity slider down and make it negative, what that does is it does a negative contrast.
So it's a softening effect if you will. You many not want to go as far as -100, but if we want to just take it down, just a touch, you can see that his skin tone is a lot softer now by using some negative Clarity. So it's just kind of bonus tip there. I'll go ahead and reset that back to zero and to get it back to where we started. All right, the second technique is to not use the Saturation slider at all. Let's go ahead and double-click and take Saturation back to where we started. So instead of using the Saturation slider, we'll go ahead and use the HSL/Grayscale tab or panel. When you click over to this panel, you'll see the first option here is Convert to Grayscale.
We'll go ahead and turn that on. This gives you something very similar to what you had with the Saturation slider in the Basic panel, but you'll see I now have by default kind of this S curve shape through all these color sliders, to create a nice balanced conversion from black to white. What this lets you do though is actually adjust each color individually and how it gets translated to grayscale. So let's start with the Reds slider. If I click on that slider and start dragging it left or right, you'll see there is a lot of red in the skin tone. So I can actually adjust that specific range of colors and how it's being converted to grayscale independently of all the other colors.
So only the Reds are changing in this image. If I grab the Oranges, I can see where there is some orange in the skin tone there as well. Again, what you typically want to do, of course you can always break the rules to get something more extreme. But you can always kind of want to end up with a nice soft S-shape to avoid posterization and having different regions of the image pop and see different edges there. Let's go ahead and take the Yellows slider. Again, we can move that back and forth, and you can see there is a lot of yellow in the background. This is where you just get a lot of creative control. Here, I'm actually going to break those rules about creating that S curve effect here, because there really isn't any yellow all that much in the face, and so I can really isolate where the yellow in the background is being converted to grayscale.
Same thing with the Greens, I can either darken the background to make him stand out against the background little bit more, or I'll even kill contrast there between foreground and background. I kind of like the darkening effect, so I'm going to take that back. Again, there is no really right or wrong with grayscale. It's really up to you and how you want to translate the color information to grayscale information. Lots of different controls there. So two different techniques, the quick one is just to use the Saturation slider in the Basic tab. You've got the bonus tip for making a soft focus effect by giving in a negative Clarity, and then when you really want to fine-tuning control, the color to grayscale conversion, switch over to the HSL/Grayscale panel, and then you can fine tune and adjust each color in the image independently.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
119 Video lessons · 50932 Viewers
117 Video lessons · 38655 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 81565 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 11579 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.