Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Audio, Video > Adobe Photoshop

📄 Contents

  1. Curves
  2. Brightness/Contrast
  3. Black-and-White Conversion
  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Black-and-White Conversion

Converting an image from color to black and white (or grayscale, if you're a stickler for accuracy) is a tricky proposition, because there are no objective rules about which shade of gray corresponds to which color. In a black-and-white landscape photo, you can just as easily represent a clear blue sky as dark black or very light white, and both effects can look fine depending on the image.

There are almost as many techniques for performing black-and-white conversion as there are for performing red-eye reduction. In Photoshop, the most basic technique is simply to choose Mode > Grayscale. A Grayscale mode change, however, gives you no control of how your colors will be converted to gray shades. Although the results can be attractive, the lack of control can be frustrating for a user who has a particular result in mind.

In CS3, when you choose Grayscale mode, you get the dialog box shown in Figure 3.13. As it explains, there's a new Black & White option available in the Image > Adjustments submenu.

Figure 3.13

Figure 3.13 When you choose Mode > Grayscale in CS3, you'll see this dialog box.

Black and White

The Black and White dialog box is really a souped-up Channel Mixer. The options here let you specify exactly how you want particular color ranges in your image to be converted to grayscale (Figure 3.14).

Figure 3.14

Figure 3.14 The new Black and White dialog box gives you a tremendous range of control for performing grayscale conversions.

The sliders are very easy to use. If you move the Reds slider to the right, for example, the red tones in your image will be represented by lighter shades; move the slider to the left, and the reds will darken. The same is true for all the other sliders. You can also adjust the tone of a particular color by clicking that color in your image and dragging left and right. Black and White will automatically determine the color of the pixel you clicked and adjust it just as if you were dragging the relevant slider.

The Black and White dialog box functions very differently from the Channel Mixer. In the Channel Mixer, if you increase the percentage of the blue channel, the blue values of every pixel in your image increase, so colors that have blue components brighten. The Black and White dialog box is much smarter than that. If you increase the Blues setting, only those tones in your image that are truly blue increase.

Consequently, unlike with the Channel Mixer, you don't have to worry about the total percentage values of your image. If the totals add up to more than 100 percent, you won't see a change in overall exposure in your image.

Also note that the sliders aren't interrelated. If you want to increase blue, you don't need to decrease yellow too. The control is smart enough to know which pixels need to be affected by a particular edit.

The Auto button performs an automatic conversion and is well worth experimenting with. The Auto algorithm does a very good job of mapping different colors to different tones to produce a nice contrasty image.


The Black and White dialog box also includes tinting controls, so you can perform black-and-white conversion and color toning in one step.

Check the Tint check box to activate the tint controls; then select the hue that you want to tint with and adjust the Saturation slider to specify the strength of the tint.


The Black and White dialog box is equipped with several Preset configurations (Figure 3.15). In addition, you can save your own presets by using the Save and Load pop-up menu located to the immediate right of the Preset menu.

Figure 3.15

Figure 3.15 The Black and White dialog box provides a full collection of presets for achieving different looks.

Channel Mixer

The Black and White dialog box has not replaced the CS2 Channel Mixer; it's still available in the Image > Adjustments submenu, and for the most part, it's still the same (Figure 3.16).

Figure 3.16

Figure 3.16 The Channel Mixer has gained a Preset menu and a Save and Load pop-up menu.

It's been updated with the new Preset menu and a Save and Load pop-up menu, and it now offers a handy Total readout below the RGB sliders. To determine whether your channel mix will leave your image over-exposed or underexposed, you need to know the total percentage change of your channel adjustments. This readout saves you the trouble of adding up the numbers yourself.

In the face of the Black and White dialog box, why is there still a Channel Mixer? There are times when you want to mix channels to create color effects rather than black-and-white effects. By clearing the Monochrome check box at the bottom of the Channel Mixer dialog box, you can mix channels to alter the color in your image.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020