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There are lots of ways to convert a color image to black and white in Photoshop. One of my favorites is the Black & White adjustment layer, because it's relatively easy to apply unlike some other methods, but it gives you control over the brightness of each color as you convert from color to black and white. The Black & White adjustment layer isn't new in itself but what is new in Photoshop CS4 is that you can apply it from the new Adjustments panel like the other adjustment layers. I'm going to apply a Black & White adjustment layer here by going to the Adjustments panel and clicking on this icon right in the middle.
When I click there, I see the new Black & White adjustment layer in the Layers panel and the Adjustments panel has changed to show me controls for just the Black & White Adjustment. There are several ways to work here. You could come and just click the Auto button. But the beauty of this adjustment is that you can do it yourself. So I'm not going to go there. You can also apply a tint by just clicking this button right here. That gives you a monochrome look, and you can change that tint by clicking in this field to open the Color Picker and choosing a different color.
So I might go up and add a blue tint, maybe make that a little lighter, and say OK. I'm going to uncheck that. Another option is to use the presets available from the menu here at the top of the panel. These simulate the effect of camera filters. So for example, if you try the Blue filter the blue sky gets light and the Red filter makes the blue sky dark. I'm going to try the Yellow filter. I like the look of that but I'd like to customize it. I could come down and change these sliders myself just guessing at which one controlled which color in this image.
But there's a better way to do it. I'm going to click at this icon, which sets up the On Image controls. And now I can come into the image and just click and drag in an area and the sliders will move with me. For example if I wanted to darken this area, I don't have to guess whether this is yellow or green. All I have to do is click here and when my cursor changes, I'll move to the left and you'll see that in the Black & White Adjustment panel that yellow slider is moving and in the image the yellows are getting darker.
If I want to lighten area, up here for example, I'll click and I'll drag to the right. This is actually moving the Cyans slider, something I might not have guessed if I didn't have this On Image control. And that's how easy it is to use a Black & White adjustment layer in Photoshop CS4. It will give you the freedom that you need to control the process and hopefully give you an image that you like without a lot of hard work.
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