Converting a portrait to black-and-white

show more Converting a portrait to black-and-white provides you with in-depth training on Photography. Taught by Chris Orwig as part of the Photoshop CS5 for Photographers show less
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Converting a portrait to black-and-white

Here I have this portrait of my cousin and his daughter, and you can tell that they're really vibrant and fun people. What I want to do is I want to convert this image to black-and-white. There are a number of different ways that we can do this, but a good starting point would be to go over to our Adjustment panel and to click on the Black & White icon. Now this is simply going to give us a default conversion. If we want to try out some of the other presets we may come up with some interesting results. For example, I'll go ahead and just scroll through a few of these different filters. You can see that it's going to convert this image in a few different ways.

Now some of these will work better than others, but it can give us some interesting and creative ideas for what to do. Let's go back to Default. Now let's say that we simply go to Default and then say, well, what can we do next? Well one of the things that we can do is remember the colors. Sometimes it's helpful to look in your Layers panel down here. And I remember he had a blue T-shirt on. Well in that case, I could go ahead and work on the Cyans or the Blues in order to modify the tone or the brightness of that T-shirt, in this case making that really bright and white.

Another thing that we know is that skin is red and yellow, so in this case I can bring up my red and yellow, or I could darken that down depending on the overall effect. Now other times what you may want to do is use the Target Adjustment tool and click on an area of skin and then drag to the left or the right or click on the grass in the background, the green there, and then increase that or decrease that, however you see fit. Now the nice thing about this is that we have so much flexibility as we use this tool so that we can find the sweet spot so that it creates an image which really reflects our artistic vision for this particular photograph. All right.

Well, let's go ahead and dial in this just a little bit back there. The shirt was a little bit too bright for me, and I think that looks good. Now the next thing that we want to do a lot of times is we may want to work on particular areas of a photograph with Curves and keep in mind that some of the best adjustments in Photoshop really are where you combine all of your different skills together. So let's create a new Curves adjustment layer. We'll do so by going back to the Adjustments panel and choosing Curves and I am going to brighten this image up. What I want to do is just brighten up perhaps the face and the eyes.

So I'll go ahead then and invert my mask. I can do so by pressing Command+I or Ctrl+I, or you can always go to the Masks panel and simply click on Invert. Now once I've inverted that, I then want to select my Brush tool by pressing the B key or selecting it in the Tools panel. I want to paint with white, make my brush a little bit smaller here. In this case I have 50% opacity. I think that will work fine, and I am just going to look to paint in a little bit of brightness in a couple areas of the image and again, just focusing in on the face here a little bit and a lot of times what happens is with these brushstrokes as we may want to smooth them out a bit, and I always like to do that.

The nice thing about using a mask is you can smooth these brush strokes out really easily, and you can do so by simply going into your Masks panel. All right well let's go into that Mask panel. Increase a little bit of Feather here. Again smoothing out our brush strokes so we can see how our light is working. Here we have before and then after. Well it's a subtle adjustment. What I want to illustrate here is this whole idea of what you can do is you can build up these different effects by using different layers. For example, we've also talked about adding a bit of color perhaps with Color Balance.

We could click on the Adjustment Layer icon and then go to Color Balance, because if we want to cool this off we could create a little bit more of a cool toned black-and-white image, or we can perhaps add a little bit of a warmer tone, in this case, a nice red and a little bit of yellow and magenta there. Now that tone perhaps might be too strong for you. No big deal, just lower your Opacity. And sometimes just adding a little bit of a subtle color in there, let's find a good opacity for this one, can help an image out. So it's not sepia tone, but perhaps it's a warmer black-and-white print.

Now with all of these types of adjustments, of course, it's completely up to you. All that I want to illustrate is that there is so much potential. When you convert to black-and-white in Photoshop it really is hands down just absolutely stunning. Well, let's take a look at our before and after. We can do so by holding down the Option Key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC and clicking on the eye icon. Here we have our before and then our after.

Converting a portrait to black-and-white
Video duration: 4m 22s 12h 24m Beginner


Converting a portrait to black-and-white provides you with in-depth training on Photography. Taught by Chris Orwig as part of the Photoshop CS5 for Photographers

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