Learn Wedding Photography

Learn Wedding Photography

Free Newsletter

Sign up and receive "Getting Started with Photoshop" eBook!

Follow Us

ATP Blog

How to Convert Images to Black and White using Photoshop

Give Your Images That Timeless Black and White Look...


Photoshop Tips - Convert Images to Black and White - The same rules apply whether you have shot digitally or scanned your images to your PC when you convert images to black and white . Each method is different with the simplest having the flattest results and the others that take a little time, produce a punchier image.

Whichever way you choose, learn the methods and then you will be able to work quickly and efficiently when deciding whether to change them or not.

Convert Images to Black and White - Desaturate/Greyscale


These are by far the simplest and quickest methods and require one or 2 clicks to convert the image instantly and automatically.

DESATURATE - Just go to Image - Adjustments - Desaturate, and click.

GRAYSCALE - Go to Image - Mode - Grayscale, and click.

Photoshop Tips - Convert to black and white

Before converting

Either way, the image will instantly change to black and white although the results will look a little bland.

Convert Images to Black and White - Lab Colour


Lab colour is the mode we go into when sharpening an image (if you have got to that stage yet). You can get there by going to;

Image - Mode - Lab Colour, and clicking it as per the diagram.

Photoshop Tips - Convert to black and white

You won't notice a change immediately, so you must then open your channels palette. If it isn't on your workspace already, go to Windows and click on Channels. A palette will appear and you need to click the "Lightness" bar.

The image will convert to black and white but you won't be able to save the image as you are still in Lab colour mode. Go back to

Image - Mode - and click "Grayscale".

You can now save the image.

Photoshop Tips - Convert to black and white

After Converting

Converting Images to Black and White - Channel Mixer


Once you have the hang of Photoshop a little better, you will start to experiment with more complicated but effective methods with everything. This way of converting to black and white is by far the most creative and effective.

As per the following diagram, go to;

Image - Adjustments - Channel Mixer

Photoshop Tips - Convert to black and white

...and a box will appear. Notice it has the 3 main channels, red, green and blue. You need to check the monochrome box in the bottom left of this new window and when you do so the image will change to black and white. Photoshop will automatically set the red channel to 100 and the green and blue to zero.

You can fiddle with the settings to your hearts content, but as a guideline try and keep the overall % at 100%, but note that mixing too much will create more "noise" in your image.

Photoshop Tips - Convert to black and white

The above diagrams show each colour channel at 100% respectively. You will notice that increasing the red channel gives the same effect that a red filter has when using black and white film. It will darken the sky and lighten the clouds and give a real punch to your images.

Learn what different settings for different channels do for different types of images that you experiment with. You will soon start to build your own style when you convert images to black and white. Nowadays, I simply use Kubota's Image Tools for a quick and trendy black and white conversion!

You May Also Like...

Isolate Images
Create Vignettes
Levels and Curves