Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
In this movie we're going to convert this portrait that I took the other day to black and white. Yet, before we jump over to our Grayscale panel, we want to become familiar with the colors in the photograph, because if we can identify the colors clearly, we can then take advantage of that in order to change the luminance or the brightness value of the different areas of our picture. And in this picture, I was using natural light. Here I was capturing this image in open shade and you can see that there's some blue in the hat and also a little bit in the background. There's also kind of this magenta or red or a little bit purple background, and then in the face we have a lot of yellows and oranges.
One of the ways that you can become even more familiar with the colors in your image is you can make a saturation adjustment and you can bring up or bring out all the saturation. This won't make your image look good, but it will help you get familiar with the colors. So, sometimes, as you're starting to work with black-and-white conversions, it may be helpful to crank up your saturation all the way. Again, here we can really see these colors in vivid ways. This obviously doesn't look good, yet it helps me know what color is there; it helps me realize, oh, there's a little bit of blue in the background, and gosh, I didn't realize how blue the hat actually is.
Next, we can double-click this to set it back to 0 and then we can go to the Grayscale panel. We can go to the Grayscale panel by either clicking on the HSL/Grayscale tab or you can click on the Targeted Adjustment tool and then hold down and select Grayscale Mix. This will convert our image to grayscale with some auto settings. The minute we do that, it's so easy to forget about all of the different colors that we had there in our photograph. So for example, we may forget that the hat was actually blue, but because we kind of focused on that, we now know that we can control the brightness value of that area of the picture.
We can either make that brighter or darker. Also, we remember that background color there. It was kind of purple or magenta, and here you can see how I can darken that up. Let me zoom in on this picture. Here I'm going to zoom in on the face, because on the face what you may have remembered is that there was a lot of yellows and oranges here. If we click this preview off momentarily, we can really see that. We can see that the freckles kind of have a little bit of a darker orange and then the face, it has a bit more yellow. So here if we go back to turn on our preview, we can then control those freckles.
I could darken them, as I'm doing here, and again, this doesn't look very good-- I'm trying to exaggerate so you can see how we can do this--or I can brighten them or lessen them. And you can see how by being aware of the color can help me change the way that I process the photograph. Now, what about the reds? Well, the reds, we could work on the lips there a little bit and a few other areas in our picture. And then of course we have a little bit of yellow as well, and here I just want to brighten that up. And by doing that, it's creating kind of this nice, kind of a bright, clean type of a look. With this black-and-white conversion, it's just a little bit brighter than I'm happy with.
Yet I'm going to do that because I'm going to go next to the Basic panel to really finish this off and deepen up my blacks a little bit. All right! Well, after having made these adjustments, I should also point out that we could obviously just hover over our image using the Targeted Adjustment tool and here we could click and drag and that would help us tap into making adjustments into specific areas of our photograph. Yet, still, I think it's helpful to really identify the colors in order to get familiar with how we can do these type of black-and-white conversions.
Well, next, let's go back to the Basic panel. Here in the Basic panel, I'm going to increase my Contrast; that will deepen some of those blacks. I'll also deepen those blacks by clicking on the Blacks slider, moving that to the left. Next, I'll bring in a little bit of light to the shadows here, and I'll also add a bit of clarity. These adjustments really help me kind of finish this image off. I'm just going to make a few subtle adjustments with these controls in order to kind of affect the drama of this black-and-white conversion. If we click on the preview now, you can see the before and after, and by using these different techniques together it can help us come up with these kind of fascinating conversions.
After you've made some basic adjustments, you may want to go back to the HSL/Grayscale tab in order to make some further adjustments. Perhaps, like, you want to brighten up the reds there a little bit, because you didn't like the density in this part of the image. As you focus in on your image, as we're doing here-- we're zoomed in--we also need to zoom out. Press Command+Minus on a Mac for Ctrl+Minus on Windows. When we zoom out, I really like the overall look and feel of this photograph, but I've decided that I also want to darken up some of this lower area of the image.
I could either do that, say, with an Adjustment Brush or maybe with a Graduated Filter adjustment. So let's select one of those tools. Let's try the Graduated Filter. Here if we go down to the Graduated Filter controls, I'm just going to click on the Minus icon for Exposure. This allows me to decrease the exposure. I'm also going to drag my Highlights value way down. Next, we can click and drag across the image. In doing that, you can see how I can bring in this darkening effect to this area of the picture. Click on the green tab to bring that up or down. Click on the red tab to change that transition area.
And in doing this, I'm looking to try to just bring down that a little bit here. And if we click on the preview, you can see here's before and then now here's after. In this way, at least with this photograph, I kind of like it, because all the light now is really focused or directed towards the face. If we want to darken the top of the image, we'll just go ahead and click and drag over that area and we could apply a similar adjustment. And so here, as I've mentioned in other places, what we can do is we can navigate to different panels. We can work with our HSL controls in order to convert our image to black and white.
We can also go to the Basic panel and make some adjustments which will help us strengthen this overall conversion. One way that we could see the before and after of this is if I click on the Default button right here, you can see this is without those basic adjustments. Then press Command+Z on a Mac or Ctrl+Z on Windows to undo that. Notice how that just adds that nice depth and contrast and feeling to this black- and-white conversion. All right! Well, after having used those HSL controls, some basic adjustments, and also our Graduated Filter and kind of combining all these different skills together, we now have a powerful and intriguing black-and-white conversion.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
180 Video lessons · 70237 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 92049 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 60297 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 28948 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.