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How to turn a normal color image into a dynamic black and white.

December 16, 2009

There are many ways to create a black and white image in Photoshop.  The one that I found that works the best is by going through Silver Efex Pro by Nik Software.  Take a look at the original image, which is on the left, and the treated image, which is on the right.

Here are the steps I used to create this image.  The first step is pretty obvious: open the image in Photoshop.  I always create a duplicate layer (command + J on a Mac, I think control + J on a PC?).  This is the layer that I do most of my work on.  You ALWAYS want to keep the bottom layer as the original, that way , if you ever mess up, you can always revert back to the original. Another organizational technique I’m big on is labeling my layers.  It really helps to keep your file organized.  I labeled this layer “dusting”.  It’s self explanatory: I just cleaned up all the dust that was visible on my sensor or lens.  I also clean up any facial blemishes and fly-away hairs that bother me.  After the initial clean up is done, I create a another duplicate layer.  This layer is for the Liquify filter.  This filter is fairly tricky.  It may take some practice before you become comfortable with it.  The purpose of using the liquify filter on this project is to widen the eyes and give his lip a little more snarl.  Here’s picture of what my layers looks like:

You’ll notice that there is an extra layer in the file.  Sometimes I make a duplicate layer for facial retouching, just in case I screw up and don’t want to have to go back and fix all of the dusting as well.  You’ll also notice a Levels adjustment layer.  I use this layer to manage my highlights and shadows.  I tweak the levels, invert the mask (command + I), then paint in the areas I want.  Next, I’m going to explain the Silver Efex Pro plug in.  In order to pull up this filter you have to be on an image layer.  This is what it looks like when it’s open:

On the left side, you have a scroll down menu.  These are default presets.  I haven’t really found a use for any of them.  I do most of my damage on the right side.  This is where you can really fine tune everything.  For this image, I wanted to give it a nice film look.  If you click the the arrow next to FILE TYPES, you can search through numerous film types and see how they look on your image before you OK anything.  I chose the Kodak 100 TMAX Pro.  It was very close to what I was looking for.  I needed to fine tune it just a bit afterwards.  For my fine tuning, I went up to the brightness, contrast, and structure sliders.  I visually tweaked those until I found exactly what I was looking for.  This plug-in is quite powerful.  You can really get in there and tweak the tones and the contrast. Keep in mind, I just showed you an overview of what this filter can do – it has many more capabilities.  Now, go in and try it out for yourself.
One Comment leave one →
  1. December 17, 2009 5:16 pm

    Nice post–informative and clearly written.

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