b+w conversion technique [tutorial - long] Part 1

Started May 27, 2005 | Discussions thread
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yirmon Senior Member • Posts: 1,930
b+w conversion technique [tutorial - long] Part 1

=== Part 1 ===

Hey guys,

I’m often asked how I convert my images to b+w, so I’ve put this tutorial together to share all my secrets! I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible so that (hopefully) everyone will be able to understand it, regardless of their knowledge of photoshop.

So we’ll begin with the original colour version. Note that I’ve already processed this image and so my normal workflow of levels, curves, USM etc. has already been done. The image actually works well in colour, but being a big fan of b+w, I want to see how it would look if I convert it.

Original image:


The first step is to convert the image to b+w using the hue/saturation method:

1. Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer but do not alter any of the values at this stage

2. Raname the adjustment layer to “Change Hue”

3. Set the blending mode for this adjustment layer to Colour

4. Create a newr Hue/Saturation adjustment layer

5. Set the saturation of this layer to -100

6. Raname this adjustment layer to “-100 Sat”

The image looks a little flat, dull and boring. Not to worry, the next step will fix this.

7. Open the first Hue/Saturation adjustment layer we renamed “Change Hue” and move the hue slider until you get your desired results. I find that -40 usually gives me the best results, and in this case it does.

If you want to tweak the conversion further try this:

1. Make sure you have your background layer selected

2. Create a Colour Balance adjustment layer

3. You can now change the values of the adjustment layer until you get your desired results


I like how dark the sky now is, but it’s not quite enough (for my taste!). I want a really high contrast image here.

a) Hide both Hue/Saturation adjustment layers so that you can see the underlying colour background layer

b) Go to Select> Colour Range

c) We want to select the blue sky, so take the dropper and left click on a portion of sky on the picture itself

d) Hold down shift and left click on other areas of sky you also want to be included

e) The higher the Fuzziness value, the more that will be selected, and the smoother the selection will be. Play about with the slider until you are happy. In this case, I’ve selected a value of 65.

f) As you can see, some of the water has been selected as well. Select the Lasso tool (L), hold down Alt and circle the area we want to be deslected

g) Show both Hue/Saturation adjustment layers so that the image is now b+w again

The next two steps are optional and help to make the selection slightly smoother:

h) Go to Select> Modify> Expand and enter a value of 1

i) Go to Select> Feather and enter a value of 1

j) Press Ctrl+L to get the Levels dialogue box. Drag the middle slider towards the right and watch the sky darken. I usually only select a value of about 0.9, but in this case 0.7 works well.

k) Press Ctrl+D to deslect the selection

(continued in Part 2)

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