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Suby & Sinem 
B&W Tutorial I
8 May 2007 at 15:16 GMT
number of posts: 5
member since: 5 Feb 06
location: uk

status: offline
Okay folks, feeling a little bit better so taking some time to write up this tutorial. Thank you for all the show of concern, still have a huge migraine though.

One of the questions people ask me a lot is how I convert my images to B&W or Sepia. There are so many way to do this in Photoshop it boggles the mind (I AM STILL LEARNING) I want to gently get you guys into understanding the very basics in editing1st so that in the future, when & if I put up more complex tutorials, you understand and are not too confused.

I am going to hopefully teach 3 things in this tutorial. Converting to B&W in less than a second, while still ensuring your image is not flat and has great depth, very quick addition of “DOF/BLUR”, levels and also use of layer mask. I edit using Photoshop CS2, so where I can remember, I will also provide the shortcuts for older Photoshop versions and Adobe Elements 3.0 & above.

Step One:
• Open up your image, press D on your keyboard to set your foreground/background colour to its default (black & white).

Step Two:
• Press Ctrl+J (Layer-New-Layer via copy) to create a new layer (I always work on a layer and never on the original background image, easier to correct any errors when you are working on layers). In the layers palette, you have circle that’s coloured black and white c alled the Create new or fill adjustment layer button, (for those using older versions of Photoshop this is Image-Adjustments-Gradient Map or Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Gradient Map), click on this circle and a pop up box appears, now here’s where the magic happens. CLICK ON GRADIENT MAP then click okay. Now doesn’t that look a better B&W conversion than simply de-saturating the image?

Step Three:
• At this stage sometimes, your job in converting to B&W can be done, however life isn’t always that perfect as your image can be either to bright or to dark or perfect, if it’s any of the later afore mentioned, you can quickly rectify by clicking on your “layer 1” image to activate that layer. Press Ctrl+L (Image-Adjustments-Levels or Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Levels) to bring up the levels pop up box. Now here I don’t want to get into too much technicalities at this time, all I will say is you see those three slider buttons underneath the graph, have a play with them until you are happy with your image then click okay.

I unfortunately do not remember or know how to add a layer mask in Adobe Elements to layer 1 which is needed for Steps Five & on, so those using Adobe Elements, sorry seems the journey ends here (Please anyone out there who knows how to add a layer mask in Adobe Elements, feel free to let me know).

Step Four:
• Still working on layer 1, Filter-Blur-Guassian Blur and set your radius to 20.5 pixels (feel free to reduce or increase this setting if you want to) then click okay. Don’t panic because your image has gone all blurry here, we will rectify this in the next step.

Step Five:
• In the Layers Palette can you see the opacity box set to 100%? I want you to hover your mouse over the word “opacity” and see that double edged arrow that sorta pops up? You are going to use this to reduce the effect of the G Blur on your image now. So left click and drag the slider to the left lowering the opacity of the G blur to about 60%.

Step Six:
• Still working on layer 1, in your Layers Palette, click on that square with a white circle in it (Layer-Layer Mask-Reveal All), press D just to make sure your foreground/background is set to it’s default colour (black & white), press B on your keyboard to bring up your brush tool, a soft edged brush should do, and set your brush size by dragging the size pop up slider or entering a size in the text box. Now just brush out the areas of your image you want to be in sharp focus with your brush tool (remember you are working on the white layer mask)

Anyone whose brain is fuzzy now, feel free to stop here, for those who are brave enough to go on, jump on to the next step 

Okay your image is smoking, but you want it to look even hotter by adding a little sepia or whatever colour tone you decide to your image.

Step Seven:
• Now remember that Gradient Map 1 layer we have been ignoring so far, well let us bring it back into action by clicking on the white layer to make that gradient Map layer “active”. In your Layers Palette click “Create new or fill adjustment layer button-photo filter” (Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Photo Filter). For this image I just choose the default warming Filter (85) with density set at 25%, but feel free to have a play with all the other fun filters in here, lowering or increasing the density percentage just increases or decreases the effect of the filter tone on your image. Click okay.

And there you have it.
Anup Payyakkil 
re: B&W Tutorial I
10 May 2007 at 11:23 GMT
number of posts: 6
member since: 23 Nov 06
location: in

status: offline
Since I added this to your photo page, I think I will add it here too...
Nice tutorial Suby...
For the last step probably using the Hue Saturation adjustment layer with the colorize option selected will also be a good option. You can just drag the slider for Hue and get the tone you want. Then adjusting the Saturation slider will decide how strong the tint should be.
re: B&W Tutorial I
11 May 2007 at 09:06 GMT
number of posts: 49
member since: 14 Sep 06
location: uk

status: offline
Its a great tutorial Suby. Just to add one thing, it is worth saying that at stage 6 where you are painting out the parts of the picture that you want to be sharp - if you make a hash of it, changing your paint colour to white takes you back to where you started
re: B&W Tutorial I
14 May 2007 at 16:25 GMT
number of posts: 1563
member since: unknown
location: unknown

status: offline
Thanks Anup, I however do not particularly like that method you describe, thats the reason I don't use it. Funny as my wife uses the hue slider like you do, Different strokes for different folks I guess


post replying to Urban Nomad's post:

>  Since I added this to your photo page, I think I will add it here too...
Nice tutorial Suby...
For the last step
>  probably using the Hue Saturation adjustment layer with the colorize option selected will also be a good option. You can
>  just drag the slider for Hue and get the tone you want. Then adjusting the Saturation slider will decide how strong the
>  tint should be.

Suby & Sinem 
re: B&W Tutorial I
14 May 2007 at 16:28 GMT
number of posts: 5
member since: 5 Feb 06
location: uk

status: offline
Paul I 100% agree that should have been in the tutorial

Thanks bro, I do appreciate it when I get this type of feedback

Carl Kirstein 
re: B&W Tutorial I
16 May 2007 at 12:18 GMT
number of posts: 6
member since: 8 Jan 07
location: za

status: offline
Good one, I'll try it out sometime when I have a gap open again. I'll also share how I do my B&W conversions with toning (note you'll need photoshop)

Step 1
Convert to RGB mode

Step 2
Select image/adjustments/channel mixer click on "monochrome" checkbox. Your image is now a monochrome through the red channel. Shift the slider until the black and white balances as well as you want it.

note that to keep the limits of the histogram in check, the values must always add up to 100, but I have found that slightly overexposing a B&W gives the "illusion" of pure white.

step 3
do your light adjustments to ensure that the image has pure black and white. Use curves (in S-shape) to boost the contrast (ctrl+alt+m) or sharpen using an amount of 40 and a radius of about 60.

step 4
convert to 8bit and greyscale

step 5
select image/mode/duotone. I suggest selecting a slightly warm tone and defailt curve for these... but experimenting with the curve gives interesting results.

step 6
convert to 16bit and CMYK mode. Press crtl+L and select the black channel, shift the left slider until perfect black is obtained, shift the middel slider back to where it was to keep the luminosity of the scene.

step 7
convert to RGB and 16bit

there you go. I have an action that does step 4 to 7 automatically (F4 on my computer), therefore the only real work I have to do is adjusting the channelmixer levels. Check out my archive to see what kind of an impact you can expect using this treatment.

The Maven  [admin] 
re: B&W Tutorial I
17 May 2007 at 23:39 GMT
number of posts: 330
member since: 13 Jan 06
location: uk

status: offline
Good thread, thanks for sharing your techniques. I usually eye-ball the tone-curve when making my black and white conversions. The main thing to realise about black and whites is that they are not really back and white. There's always a certain 'tint' (usually a warm one).
re: B&W Tutorial I
23 May 2007 at 00:50 GMT
number of posts: 83
member since: 6 Dec 06
location: uk

status: offline
Thank-you Suby for taking time and trouble to write this tutorial which I've tried out and have posted today, the result to be found here @

I'd be interested to know what people think.
Anytime you feel like posting another tutorial, I for one will be giving it a go. Thanks again.
liam beattie 
re: B&W Tutorial I
29 Aug 2007 at 18:12 GMT
number of posts: 11
member since: 25 Jul 07
location: za

status: offline
suby that was excellent...thank you. I am trying this as i type..
re: B&W Tutorial I
14 Nov 2007 at 23:31 GMT
number of posts: 5
member since:

status: offline
just gonna play love the post what a chalenge a newbie !!!

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