Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Selective black-and-white adjustments

From: Photoshop Black-and-White Workshop

Video: Selective black-and-white adjustments

It seems photographers tend to think of an image as being either black and white or color. However, as you'll see in this lesson, sometimes you can create a more interesting image by blending color and black and white in the same image. Here, I have an image that contains a fair amount of color. We have some bright oranges in the foreground with these rocks and the sky is a reasonably vibrant blue. In fact, in large part, this picture was taken because of the color. But I want to emphasize that texture in the rock without drawing so much attention to that color. I think it might be interesting to convert the rocks to black and white, but to leave the sky in color.

Selective black-and-white adjustments

It seems photographers tend to think of an image as being either black and white or color. However, as you'll see in this lesson, sometimes you can create a more interesting image by blending color and black and white in the same image. Here, I have an image that contains a fair amount of color. We have some bright oranges in the foreground with these rocks and the sky is a reasonably vibrant blue. In fact, in large part, this picture was taken because of the color. But I want to emphasize that texture in the rock without drawing so much attention to that color. I think it might be interesting to convert the rocks to black and white, but to leave the sky in color.

To get started, I'm going to create a selection of the rocks. So I'll choose my Quick Selection tool, and then, click and drag across the rocks in a variety of areas, sampling various portions of the rock so that Photoshop gets a sense of exactly what I want to create a selection of. If I drag around enough areas, Photoshop will be able to create a great selection of the rocks. I can then create an Adjustment Layer. Now, you might not have been aware that each Adjustment layer automatically includes a layer mask. That layer mask determines where the affect of the Adjustment layer takes effect.

By default, the Layer Mask is completely white, and in the context of a Layer Mask, black blocks, but white reveals. So a white layer mask causes the Adjustment Layer to be visible everywhere. If we have a selection active when we create our Adjustment layer, that layer mask will reflect the selection that was active at the time. So in this case, the layer mask will reflect white in the area for the rocks and black for the sky. White for the selected areas and black for the deselected areas. What that means is the adjustment I add will only effect the rocks. So I'll go ahead and add a black and white adjustment layer and that Adjustment Layer will automatically have its layer mask reflect this selection. Therefore, causing this Adjustment layer, in this case, the black and white adjustment, to only effect the rocks.

So now, when I apply an adjustment to the setting for my black and white adjustment, you can see that I'm only effecting the appearance of the rocks. I can finetune to my heart's content. In this case, the reds and the yellows are really the only colors I need to concern myself with, since the rocks were largely orange. But notice that the sky remains blue. Now, in some cases, with a selection that was not feathered, you may have a little bit of a harsh transition between the area that was affected and the area that's not affected. If you need to finetune that transition, you can use the Masks panel. If it's not visible, simply choose Window > Masks from the menu. You can then adjust the Feather setting.

Now, I'll increase the feather setting significantly and you can see that we start to see a transition between the area we're effecting, the rocks, and the area we're not effecting, the sky. So here, the transition has been made so large that we're starting to see a little bit of color at the edges of the rocks. In most cases, you'll only need to feather by one or two pixels to produce a nice transition between the areas you're affecting and those areas that you're not effecting. Layer masks provide tremendous creative potential in Photoshop.

As you've seen in this lesson, one potential use of Layer Masks is to produce an image that combines both black and white and color working together to produce a more interesting final result.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Black-and-White Workshop
Photoshop Black-and-White Workshop

27 video lessons · 1033 viewers

Tim Grey
Author

 

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Photoshop Black-and-White Workshop.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

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.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.