The Best Way To Create Black & White Photos in Photoshop

Black and white is classic so let’s learn to make the best black and white images that money can buy. There are a thousand different tutorials out there on black and white images, but this is the best one. We’re going to build a black and white image and compare it to three different types of black and white processes in Photoshop and talk about adding depth and BITE to your black and white images.

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1. Good, Bad, and Ugly

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We’re going to go over four different ways to create black and white photos in Photoshop. There are good ways and terrible ways to create black and white images. Let’s get going!

2. Desaturate

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The fastest and easiest way to create a black and white image is to go Image>Adjustments>Desaturate (hotkey Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + U.) We can do much better though, because this technique does not give us much in the way of contrast and punch.

3. Black and White Adjustment

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If you go Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Black & White you will have an Adjustment Layer dropped on top of your image and the black and white dialog will pop up. You can boost the brightness of any color range that you like. A couple tips: Reds and yellows typically will affect the skin tones in your image. Blues and Cyans can be used to get a rich, dark sky in your black and white image to add that classic dramatic black and white sky.

4. The Channel Mixer

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The next method we’ll use is the Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer. Go Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Channel Mixer and tick on the “Monochrome” box to convert the image to black and white. I usually like to boost reds a little and play with the other channels to build some contrast. After I set my Channel Mixer I like to add a Levels Adjustment Layer and boost the contrast a touch (see the video to see how I did this.)

5. The Gradient Map Method

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Go Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map and stick with the default black to white gradient. You can double click and edit the gradient and drag the black or white points inward a little to really pump contrast into your image.

6. Add a Channel Mixer to Gradient Map

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Add a Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer and tick on “Monochrome” and adjust the light as you like and then set that layer to the blend mode of Multiply. Reduce the layer opacity to about 10%. This will add some gritty contrast and darkening to our black and white image.

7. Compare all 7 Images and Pick Your Favorite

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Go Window>Arrange>4-up to see all four versions (if you have all four version open) and compare them all to see which method you like the most! Go with what you like!

Be sure to watch the video at the top of this article tutorial for even more detail!

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