Easy Black and White Conversion


Hello hello! Cynthia here today with a great black and white conversion for your photos! I know there are a million ways to do so in Photoshop but today I’m going to show you one that most of the times, achieves amazing results on most photos.

I’m working on Photoshop CC but I’m pretty sure Elements must be pretty similar.

First of all, make the basic corrections to your photo (extra points if you shoot in RAW!) like white balance, exposure, etc. It’s always better to start working on a corrected photo so you don’t get those horrible muddy grays. Also, make sure your foreground and background color are set to the default black and white (press D). Here’s my photo straight out of RAW:


Now, go to the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Levels from the Create New Adjustment Layer pop-up menu (it’s the half-black/half-white circle icon). The Levels controls will appear in the Adjustments palette and a new layer will be added to your Layers palette named “Levels 1.”


Press X until your Foreground color is set to black, then go to the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Gradient Map from the Create New Adjustment Layer pop-up menu.


Once your image is black and white (cool, huh?), click directly on the Levels thumbnail in the Levels 1 layer to bring up the Levels controls in the Adjustments palette again. In the pop-up menu at the top of the palette, you can choose to edit individual color channels. Choose the Red color channel.


You can now adjust the Red channel, and you’ll see the adjustments live on your photo as you tweak. If you drag the middle (midtone) input level slider to the left, you can open up shadowed areas, but here it’s entirely up to you. You can see my final numbers for the Red Channel here:


You can also play with the Green and Blue Channels until you achieve the result you like, but you can skip those 2 channels if you think you’re done once you’ve played with the red, or viceversa, don’t be afraid to play!

Once you’re happy with your results, flatten your image, save, and admire the beauty you created!


I hope you liked this tutorial! I’d love to see your own black and whites following this method, so don’t forget to link us up in the comments! See you soon!

  • Lissa - April 22, 2014 - 7:56 pm

    Nice work Cynthia! Love learning new things! I do mine soooo different but I am surely going to give this a try!ReplyCancel

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