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Black and white: part one (further information)

Black and white: part one

With the advent of digital cameras, black and white photography has changed. Now, rather than loading a black and white film into your camera, you can either select to shoot in black and white mode (if your camera has one) or convert the image to black and white during post-production. There are a variety of ways of doing this within Photoshop, the simplest of which are the Desaturate command and the Hue/Saturation tool. Both of these methods convert an image to black and white based on an average of the RGB values of the individual pixels, and both can often only produce average results.

In this tutorial we will be discussing three further methods of creating black and white images. The first uses the Channel Mixer tool, which offers a much greater degree of control over the appearance of the final image, and the second – using Lab Color mode and the Lightness channel – is a great technique for producing black and white portraits. The third method discusses the ‘Black and White’ tool (introduced with Photoshop CS3).

The topics covered in this tutorial include:

  • The limitations of the Desaturate command and the Hue/Saturation tool
  • An introduction to the Channel Mixer tool
  • Smoothing skin tones using the Channel Mixer
  • Balancing tonal range
  • Customising the Channel Mixer settings
  • Lab Color mode and the Lightness Channel
  • CS3’s Black and White tool

This tutorial contains 5585 words, 56 illustrative images and screen grabs, and has received 17 comments.

Photoshop files included with this tutorial

Each of our tutorials is based around a series of Photoshop files, at the resolution originally posted on chromasia, and each contains all the original adjustment layers I used to create the final image. The ones that are included in this tutorial, and a brief description of how each one will be used, are listed below – the ‘before’ version on the left, the ‘after’ version on the right. Each of these files can be downloaded after you subscribe.

How to get from this … to this
Image 1
In this example I will introduce the Channel Mixer tool and show you how to use it to lighten and soften skin tones.
Image 2
In this example I will show you how to use the Channel Mixer to balance the tonal range of different areas of an image.
Image 3
In this example I will show you how to alter the settings for the Channel Mixer to draw attention to the areas of an image that you wish to highlight.
Image 4
In this example I will show you how to use Lab Color mode and the Lightness channel to produce a black and white image.
What our subscribers have said about this tutorial

"Hi David and yet again another outstanding tutorial. The pictures you've used are a real joy and definitely made me smile. The choice of each was perfect and definitely great examples to use......"


"Reading about the process of discovery, the trial and error, and of course a down to Earth description of the different Photoshop tools, has helped me in ways no other book or tutorial has."


"Not only wonderful tutorials but also comments with links to even more! So much to learn, so much to play with! Thank you!"


I love reading these tutorials, as you know you only have to look at my before and after shots to realise that your work impacts on mine. The tutorials are thorough and concise, I wouldn't panic about content. If like me you want something, to the point, informative and useful, then these hit the nail squarely on the head. If I had one thing to say, it would be this:- don't give away all your secrets, some of that which is Chromasia needs to be kept close to your chest. Having said that new techniques and processes mean that your work will keep looking fresh and and so will the techniques.


Content overview (the rollover graphics and embedded videos are not illustrated)
page 1 page 2 page 3 page 4 page 5
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HomeOnline tutorials17 comments 
Black and white: part one (further information)