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There's nothing quite like a great black-and-white image. In this workshop, author and trainer Tim Grey shows you how to create the best possible black-and-white interpretations of color photographs using Adobe Photoshop. From very basic grayscale conversions to advanced multiple-channel blending using layer masks, Tim explores a wide variety of methods that you can use to produce the best black-and-white results. Afterwards, tackle a set of real-world projects that combine a variety of techniques to produce the final image. Note: This course was recorded in Photoshop CS5, but was created with users of both Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS4 in mind.
In this lesson, we're going to take a look at an image that was captured in large part because of the color. And then we'll remove that color in an effort to find a more creative and interesting interpretation of the image. Let's get started. We'll go ahead and add a Black and White Adjustment Layer, and we'll start to adjust the various colors. But in this case I think I'm going to work directly on the image. So I'll turn on the On-Image Adjustment and then I'll point to various areas of the image that I want to lighten or darken, and Click and Drag left to darken or right to lighten. So for example, I'd like to darken the sky, so I'll point to the sky, and Click and Drag leftward.
And I think I'd like to brighten up the wheat just a little bit, so I'll Click and Drag on the wheat, over toward the right. And then I can play with some of the other sliders here, just to see if they're going to have any real contribution to the overall image. And that's looking pretty good. Magentas are not present too much at all, it looks like, so I think that gives us a pretty good starting point. I would like to have a little bit more contrast, so I'll go ahead and add a Curves Adjustment, and maybe darken up the deeper shadows just a little bit. Don't want to take that too far, and brighten up the brighter areas, but really probably just taking those bright areas back to where they were before I started darkening up the darker areas. That looks a bit more interesting.
You know, the interesting thing here, is that I've got a black and white Image, and I'm starting to like the way this is going, but the image was really all about color. So it might be interesting to bring back some of that color. In other words, we're really then fading back the color, to give the image something of a, maybe weathered appearance, which seems suitable for the scene. So I'll go to my Black and White Adjustment Layer, clicking to make sure it's active, and then at the top of the Layers panel, I'll adjust my opacity control. right about there, maybe 84% it looks like might be a good value.
Where I'm letting that color show though, but it's really been faded back rather significantly. Now I also think I might like to lighten the outer edges of the image. So I'll click on my Background Image Layer to make it active and then I'll hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option Key on Macintosh while clicking on the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the layers panel. I'm going to call this layer, Lighten Vignette, because I'm going to apply a vignette effect, but one that lightens rather than darkens the outer edges of the image. I'll change the Blend mode to overlay, and turn on the Check Box to fill this layer with the overlay neutral color of 50% gray. I'll click OK and then I can choose Filter Lens Correction, from the menu, to bring up the Lens Correction Dialog.
Going to the Custom Tab, I'll increase the amount for Vignette to lighten up those edges and I can also adjust the midpoint. In this case, I think I might pull it into the center a little bit more of the image. That looks pretty good so I'll click OK, and then I can adjust the opacity as needed. In this case, just taking it down a tiny little bit, so I'm not brightening quite as much. But if you notice, if I turn off the visibility of my lightened Vignette Layer, I'm actually having a rather strong effect on the image. And that helps add to that sort of faded look that we've got going on here. Sometimes it's helpful to think beyond your original intent for a photo, and instead, think of all the possibilities that might exist. Including the potential for some variations on a black and white version of the image.
For example in this case, the color was a primary motivation for taking the photo in the first place. And yet, in some ways, I find this black and white version of the image to be more reflective of the environment of the photo.
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