Would like help finding best method converting to b/w

Started Apr 13, 2004 | Discussions thread
thomas1973 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,477
B&W conversion

The retouch forum have some great suggestions. You could try this thread:

For a low down on my B&W, I usually do a quick color correction, and leves/curves, check the individual channels, then use Channel Mixer with monochrome checked. This lets you control the B&W conversion almost like using color filters on the lens of a B&W film SLR, by controlling the red/green/blue input.

From here on it depends on the pic.

A quick and very effective trick I found, was (after flattening) copying the layer (ctrl+A then ctrl+J) then go tho layers pallette and change blending mode to soft light. Instant added contrast! If it's too much, dial in the amount with the opacity slider.

For some subjects, the hard light or even vivid light blend mode can give a hars but sometimes very good effect.

Some subjects (especially colorful ones) can benefit from a 'Selective Color' adjustment layer ( put it underneath the B&W Channel Mixer layer so it can work on the colors). Here you can control RGB and CMYK as well as the light, neutral and dark parts individually.

Often I use none of the two above mentioned, but go straight from channel mixer to dodging and burning using this technique: Layer> New> Layer, from the pop up window, change blending mode to 'Overlay', then check the appearing 'Fill with 50% grey' checkbox. Still on this new 'overlay' layer, choose default (black/white) colors (D) and pick a soft brush. Dial in a brush opacity of between 4-14% and paint with black for burning, white for dodging. Change between black and white with (X).

This technique gives you a lot more control over the dodging/burning than using dodge/bur tools, plus you do it on a separate layer. You can even dampen the overall dodge/burn by changing layer opacity in the end.

Flatten, sharpen and save.

I don't like doing batch conversions on my B&W, as I find most of them need some manual adjustment for optimal results. Plus I like the conversion process

This was pretty scetchy, so please post if something is unclear, or you need more info.


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