Black and White Photoshop Tutorial for Newbies :)

vonnagy

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This a basic digital black & white tutorial for newbies.

Quick Reference:
Burning: Darkening an area of an image
Dodging: Lightening an area of an image

My method may not be the best, so I am hoping I'll get a lot of feedback here. I'll start off by doing a comparison with the original image and the final outcome:
compare.jpg


The colours are a bit lacking here (except for that one bit of blue on the gumboot) and to me this images screams for black and white conversion! Before i do anything I apply the voodoocat unsharp mask method to make sure that my image is nice and crisp. The next step is to do the actual black and white conversion. I use an adjustment layer here called channel mixer. For this particular image, i used 60% blue (note: i seldom use blue but it works here), 20% green and 20% red. Here is the result of the channer mixer:
channelmixer.jpg


Yep, its still a little flat, the sky is washed out. I am too dern lazy to use my burn tools, so what i did was duplicate the original layer applied a multiply mask. After applying the multiply mask at 100%, I deleted the everything below the horizon in that layer. The multiply mask acts like a the burn tool tool over a large area:
multiply1.jpg


Sky looks a bit better now..but thats not good enough! I want an INTENSE sky. no problem, just duplicate the multiply layer again. So now you you have 2 layers that darken the sky to give it that brooding effect. I set the opacity of this layer to 55%:
multiply2.jpg


Alright, now my foreground needs a bit of help. Unlike the sky which was washed out... my foreground is a bit dark. Not a problem, duplicate the original layer and a apply a screen mask. I deleted the everything above the horizon and and I also used my eraser tool to paint the highlights to suite my own preference. The screen mask acts like the dodge tool over a large area:
screen.jpg


Good sky, good foreground..hrrrm.. the greys in this pic look a little flat. Lets jack up the contrast adjustment layer 15 notches:
contrast.jpg


Sweet! Well for my final touch, I am going to tweak the curves adjustment layer ever so slightly to give me my final outcome. Though its difficult to tell at first, the curves add a bit 'definition' to the sky and foreground:
curves.jpg


Other notes:

To lighten or darken sections of an image, I always start off by using multiply masks/screen masks instead of the dodge and burn tools. The reason for this is:

a. It covers the entire image, so if the entire sky needs to be burned I don't have to wear out my mouse hand waving it over the sky
b. It distributes the effect evenly - you don't have to worry about overburning a particular area, undoing, repeating and wasting time

After applying the mask, I just delete any part of the mask I don't like. The burn and dodge tools do come in handy when you want to hone in on the details of image and doing fine touch ups.

So do the multiply/screens masks tackle macro jobs, burn/dodge tools handle micro jobs. You'll drive you self bonkers trying to use the burn and dodge tools over a large area!!

Notice that i didn't use the levels adjustment layer here at all! I seldom use this because it has a tendency to strip out the tonality of image - the screen/multiply masks I have found are the best ways of digging out digital information that is buried within your photo. More on levels later...

Hopefully this will be helpful to someone out there! If you would like to see the original psd file, pm and I'll send a small version. Please post back your better photoshop b&w methods here too, if you have a better way doing something- let us all know!

Enjoy!
 

terri

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This is way cool, Mark. For me it's a lot of work, but whether I like it or not, there have been times I've wanted to convert a color image to B&W and these results are undeniably superior to the little bit of contrast/brighten stuff I've played with. :wink: Thanks for this!
 

markc

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Nice! Thanks Mark. There are so many different ways to do things in Photoshop that I'm always wondering what I might be missing. I love reading how other people do things because I always seem to find ways to improve.
 

jack

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Thats very very good Vonnagy.

i think it looks better before the final curves adjustment (repro/commercial image) IMO.

EDIT: your final image is a 'front cover' of nautical trade-mag ! :0).


the slight halos you got around the dark objects on the shore - i get them too,
theyre weird they cant be burnt away. hmmmmmm
 

bigyou

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the best way to create a good looking b/w in photoshop is to play with the adjustment layers. they can be found in the menu under image > adjustments or simply at the bottom of the layers palette.

the best adjustment layer to perform this is channel mixer.

simply add it to your image, by selecting it from one of the menus. once you get the dialogue box, click the monochromatic option. you can now play with the red and green sliders the the desired effect. i propose you don't touch the blue slider because it affects the quality of the picture, adding some kind of blur. so only play with he red and he green. be sure that the channel mixer adjustment layer is on top of all layers in your document because it will affect only the layers that are under it.

you can then add another adjustment layer, like curves, and play with it to add more contrast .

just experiment with, you'll get some great results

this b/w picture was made in photoshop using adjustment layers

this way
 

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