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In this movie, I'll show you how to create a custom black and white image using a Channel Mixer Adjustment layer. Now, in order to keep track of what we're doing, we're going to need to be able to see a histogram. So, go up to the Window menu and choose the Histogram command to bring up the Histogram panel. And notice that I currently have the channel set to RGB and I'm also looking at the expanded view. Next, drop down to the black and white icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and I'm going to press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and then choose this command right there, Channel mixer.
And because I have the Alt or Option key down, that brings up the New Layer Dialog box, and I'll go ahead and call this guy Custom BMW. And then click OK. And now we're seeing the Properties panel with the Channel Mixer options. We don't need it to be that wide, so I'm going to go ahead and make the panel narrower and maybe a little longer so it's not cutting right into her jawline. Notice what we've got going here. We have x amounts of the red, green, and blue channel that we can mix together and we can do so, on a channel by channel basis.
So Ib Bygbjerg So in other words, when I'm working on the red channel and notice that I have access to all three channels here. When I'm working on the red channel, then I could tone down the amount of red that's going on inside the red channel and increase the amount of green and so forth. But if you're trying to make some black and white image, then you want to turn on this checkbox, Monochrome and that way your output channel is grey and you don't have any other options. So you're just determining how much each channel is contributing to the final greyscale image.
Now, notice by default, we're seeing 40% red with 40% green and 20% blue. So there's more red and green involved in our new channel than there is blue. And that's close to what Photoshop is doing by default when it's mixing a standard composite gray-scale image. However, even closer is this recipe here. I'll take the green channel up to 50% and I'll take the blue channel down to 10%. And so 40, 50, 10 is your everyday average standard mix for a gray-scale image. And you'll see, if I go ahead and switch over to the actual gray-scale composite that I created by just choosing the gray-scale command in the previous movie, you'll see that the images are very similar, and in places, they're downright identical.
So I'll switch back to our mixed image again, and then, I'll switch to the composite RGB. And really, the only area in which you're likely to see any differences are up here in this woman's hair, the woman in the background, who has that sort of magenta hair coloring going on. I'll switch back so you can see what I'm talking about. So, she has this kind of magenta to red hair, and, in the purplish area, is where we're seeing the biggest differences between This 40, 50, 10, mix and what Photoshop comes up with automatically.
So the only reason I mention that, is not because there's any reason you need to match what Photoshop does, but rather if you are going to dial in your own mix, then you probably want to stay away from these value. Notice also by the way that we have a total of 100%. You want to keep that total around 100% and any time you vary from that total, if I take the blue value up a percentage point for example, and we go to 101%, then we're going to get this little warning that's telling us that we might have too much luminance contribution, and as a result you're running the risk of blowing highlights inside your image.
Which is why, by the way, I have the histogram up on screen, so I can keep track of whether that's actually happening or not. So I'll go ahead and update that histogram, and you can see that actually we still have some room over here in the highlights, and we're not blowing anything at this point. So here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to take the green value down to zero, just so that we're getting something very different than we would normally get. Because, after all, by default, the green channel is making the biggest contribution. And then, I'll click inside that red value and I'll press Shift up arrow to take it to 50% and then I'll Tab to the blue value and take it up to 50%, as well.
So, we now have a total of 100% which makes Photoshop happy. That doesn't necessarily make the histogram happy, however. So, I'm going to update that histogram and notice, we not only have room over here in the highlights But we also have a little bit of room down here in the shadows. Now if you're finding that you're starting to lose shadow detail, what you need to do is adjust the constant value. And you go ahead and take that value down, and notice all that does if I just start reducing that value to negative 30 for example, that's just shifting the entire Histogram over, so now we're losing highlights like crazy.
Which is why you don't want to take the constant value that low. In my case I'm going to take it down to negative 2% and if I update that histogram, you'll see that my shadows are now ending very nicely at black. However, my highlights still have a lot of room, so I'm going to fill in those highlights by adding to the blue channel. So I'll just go ahead and press the up arrow key. Until I get to 56%, which means we now have a total of 106% luminescence. Again, that worries Photoshop. However where this image is concerned it works out beautifully.
I'll go ahead and update that histogram once again, and you can see now we have highlights to the variant. And we're not seeing any clip shadows, or any clip highlights. So we should be in good shape. Now I think we can still have some stronger contrast, and I want to add a little brightness too. And the easiest way to do that is to add a brightness contrast adjustment layer. So I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, click that black white icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose Brightness Contrast. And I'll just go ahead and call this guy BC and then click OK.
And now I'll take the contrast value up to 40, which is pretty darn high, but I think it works well for this image. And I'll take the brightness value up to 20. So 20 for brightness 40 for contrast, and we end up getting this final effect right here. Now the sky is pretty darn bright. It's not quite blown out but it is very bright indeed. And if you wanted to check that beyond the histogram then you could create a Levels Adjustment layer and I'll do that by once again Alt clicking or Option clicking on that black white icon and choosing the levels command and I'll just go ahead and call this guy Tester.
And I'll click OK. And now I can Alt+drag on that white triangle there to see where my highlights are clipping, and as things are, if I just click and hold on that triangle, you can see that I've got a few clipped highlights showing up there in the sky. So that's right there in that central region of sky. If that worries me, I can return to the Channel mixer and I could take that blue value down, let's say a couple of percent. Update the histogram to see if things are looking good, they are.
Switch back to the Levels Adjustment layer. Alt or Option click and hold on that white triangle again, and now I have no clipping in the sky what so ever. I can run the same test on the shadows by Alt or Option clicking and holding on the black slider triangle, and I'm not seeing any clipping whatsoever there. So just to see what we've managed to accomplish here, this is the custom black and white version of the image, and this is your standard everyday average Photoshop gray-scale conversion. And if you ask me I think what we've come up with. Is a lot stronger image.
It has better contrast. It has better detail, and it has a certain gravitas that we're not going to achieve with the straight scale conversion.
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