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Making a basic black-and-white adjustment

From: Photoshop Black-and-White Workshop

Video: Making a basic black-and-white adjustment

The black and white adjustment in Photoshop is deceptively simple. There are only six sliders to choose from, and yet with those sliders, you can create dramatic and varied results, as a you'll see in this lesson. The first step, of course, is to add a new black and white adjustment layer. So, on the Adjustments panel, I'll simply click the button for Black and White, and a new adjustment layer for black and white will be added. And here, you can see the various sliders that are available. These represent the primary colors both additive and subtractive for the image. We have reds, yellows, greens, cyans, blues and magentas to choose form.

Making a basic black-and-white adjustment

The black and white adjustment in Photoshop is deceptively simple. There are only six sliders to choose from, and yet with those sliders, you can create dramatic and varied results, as a you'll see in this lesson. The first step, of course, is to add a new black and white adjustment layer. So, on the Adjustments panel, I'll simply click the button for Black and White, and a new adjustment layer for black and white will be added. And here, you can see the various sliders that are available. These represent the primary colors both additive and subtractive for the image. We have reds, yellows, greens, cyans, blues and magentas to choose form.

Now, each of these relates to particular areas of the image. Specifically, the sliders will lighten or darken pixels based on the original color value of any given pixel. Let's take a look. The beer in the center of the frame here is mostly yellow. So, if we adjust the Yellows slider, we'll be lightening and darkening any yellow values within the image. This should include the beer, but probably some other areas of the image that also contain yellow. Any area of the image that was originally yellow will be lightened or darkened based on the movement of this slider. So, I can brighten up all the yellows in the image or darken down all the yellows in the image, but of course, that lightening and darkening is translating into a shade of grey.

Obviously, this gives us tremendous flexibility as we fine tune the image. Let's take a look at another example. The meats and the table cloth contain a variety of shades of red, so increasing or decreasing the value of red should lighten and darken those areas of the image as well. And the bottle of water was predominantly green, so we can brighten or darken that water bottle and any other areas of the image that were also green by adjusting the Greens slider. Now, of course, part of being able to apply an effective adjustment is knowing what color particular areas of the image were.

But if at any time you need to refresh your memory, you can simply turn off the Black and White Adjustment layer to view the image in color. In so doing, I can see for example, but this woman's purse is pink as is her shirt. And so, adjusting the Magenta slider, we would expect to brighten or darken her shirt and her purse. So, I'll turn on my Black and White Adjustment layer once again, and adjust my Magenta slider. And sure enough, you can see that we're affecting those areas of the image that had in pink. Now, in this case, there's no sky in the image, so you might not think the cyans and blues are going to be very effective.

But actually, there is some sky in the image, specifically the sky that appears in some of the paintings that are on display in this piazza. So, if we increase or decrease the value of cyans for example, we'll see those areas of the image affected, and blues of course, will have a similar effect. The key is to experiment around with the various sliders. Look for different interpretations of the image. For example, the bottle of water was relatively dark in the original image. But it might look a little bit more interesting if we brighten that bottle up a little bit. We can emphasize or de-emphasize particular areas of the image based on how we brighten or darken.

In this case, I'll want to brighten up the reds just a little bit. Because I think those meats are looking a little too dark. And of course, I don't want a dark beer when it was really a Pilsner so maybe I'll brighten that up a bit, just to improve the overall appearance of the image. But the key is to move through all of the sliders and see what effect they'll have on the overall image. In fact, I encourage you to swing those sliders through their extremes so that you'll get a better sense both of which areas of the image are being effected and how you might possibly interpret the image in a more creative way. The key to making full use of the Black and White Adjustment is to explore all of the sliders and experiment with various settings for each. As you'll quickly discover, the possibilities are truly endless when using this powerful tool.

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Photoshop Black-and-White Workshop

27 video lessons · 992 viewers

Tim Grey
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