Black and White Processing

OK.... let's see if I can explain what I have been doing lately. You will find as you get more and more familiar with the software that the way you process will change over and over as you go along. But this is where I am now and I am happy to share. I have posted the directions as kimi's Kreative homework #67. If you get stuck and have questions, please go there and post them. Also please post your final image there for us to see. =)

First you need to totally process your color image. I find removing blemishes extremely important. They just don't do well once you have changed to b&w. So let's assume you are happy with your color image and you are ready for the change. Make sure you have merged all of your changes into one image. I can't say this will look good on all images but I do find I like it on people. So try a person shot if you have one. Here we go....

I am going to use an image I have of Grace to follow along.
Make a duplicate copy of your color image. Ctrl J
Hit the letter D to set your colors to their default settings.
Open your adjustment icon and choose gradient map.
You will now have a grayscale image. But this looks loads better than if you had picked grayscale or desaturated.
Ctrl E to merge down with your duplicated color layer. You should now have 2 layers. Your color on the bottom and your b&w above it. Take a look and make sure you are following along so far?
Now you will open 3 levels adjustment layers. Just clicking OK and making no changes.
So here are the steps to changing the blend modes on your levels layers.
We will go bottom to top. First one you will change to screen, The middle one will be multiply and the top one will be soft light.
Don't panic!! This is not hard. :)
Turn off your top two level layers so the only one that now shows is the levels layer set to screen. It should be the one right above your image. Screen makes everything lighter so now your skin tones are way too washed out. Go to your layer opacity slider and move it down until you think it looks right. Turn the eye on the layer on and off to see the difference.
Now turn on your middle levels which should be multiply. I use this layer to darken the background so my subject stands out. Click on the layer mask of this layer and choose a soft edge brush. Make sure your foreground color in your color picker is set to black. Brush the areas that you want to stay light. In my case it is Grace's face, body and hat. You can lower the opacity of this layer also if you think it is too dark.
Now turn on your top layer that is set to soft light. WOW, it adds loads of contrast. Again lower the opacity of this layer until you like the effect.

That is it!! Using the levels adjustment layers instead of duplicating your image each time keeps your files size stays smaller. You should now have a nice black and white image instead of an image that is just different shades of gray.

I am going to keep going so come along for the ride. Looking at my image, I find her face has lost some of it's definition. I am going to fix this with a burn layer.
Create a new blank layer and make sure it is selected. Go to edit, fill and choose 50% gray in the drop down box. Change this blend mode to overlay. Choose your burn tool. Look on the top tool bar. Set it to Midtones at about 14% Exposure and choose a soft edge brush. The first thing I will do is make a circle about the size of her cheeks and click a few times on each side. I will then lower the size of my brush and run it around the edges of her face. I also made the brush smaller and did the sides of her nose and her mouth.

Now for the chocolate layer. Create a new blank layer on the very top, make sure this layer is selected. Open your color picker and type in this hex code, (there will be a box at the bottom with numbers) Here is my secret chocolate number... 3f2c02 (it is the number zero)
You will see you now have a nice warm brown set as your foreground color. Hitting Alt, backspace will fill your layer with the brown. Change your blend mode to soft light and lower your layer opacity until you like the effect. Remember, you don't want it to be overwhelming. I went down to 22% on my image.
I find adding the chocolate gives the image more definition as well.
You can always do one final levels adjustment to the image. I do sometimes.

Well there you go. I am finished. How did you do?

homework #67

Go and post your images and questions on the homework forum!!
oh and all of this was done in PSE5.
Please feel free to post ideas the comment sections about other things you would like to know.

P.S. I was going fast, sorry if there are typos. ARK!


Elizabeth said…
Absolutely lovely! I happen to love black and white photography. When my husband was still doing photography, it was the only kind he knew how to develop on his own! I think black and white makes a statement that cannot be achieved in color.
GreatToBeGrammy said…
Oh my goodness, Kimi, that is beautiful work on a beautiful subject! I'm going to find a photo to try this technique out on! Thanks!
michelle said…
I can't wait to try this. Thanks so much for sharing. And lovely picture!!!!!!!
jillconyers said…
Absolutely beautiful Kimi.

Your timing could not have been any better. I just received a pack of photos that I processed myself (after taking J Sprague's photo editing class). I'm happy to say the color photos turned out really nice but my B&W photos left a lot to be desired. I can't wait to play with your processing info.

Thank you!
Anonymous said…
I love the effects. THanks for sharing your tutorial with us.
Gorgeous work Kimi!
Deb said…
Looking forward to trying this! Thank you for sharing! I LOVE the look!!
Jen said…
That was awesome!! Thanks for sharing.
Jonni said…

Thanks for the great tutorial hun! I am always trying to get better with B&W.

Kristina said…
your photos are beuatiful! thanks for sharing your work and tutorial!
smiles aka Shari said…
Oh Kimi, how beautiful! You have the perfect model!
Janna said…
Wow! What a beautiful photo! And what a wonderful black and white conversion!! Thank you for posting this. I had not seen the photoshop website you posted your homework assignment to until I followed your link. Oh my goodness!! I think I need to spend about a year on there doing the assignments! What a wonderful resource for those of us who are just beginning! Thanks!!
Janna said…
I just re-read your post and noticed this time that you used PSE5. I currently only have PSCS3. Hmmm. I wonder how difficult it would be to duplicate your technique with CS3? It may be a while before I get it figured out. Thanks for sharing, though. Seeing your photo certainly makes me want to work harder on mine! Thanks for the inspiration!!
kimi kreations said…
hi Janna... I did it in Elements so people would see how easy it is. You can certainly do the same thing in CS3.

Can't wait to see your image!! =)
Shirley said…
Thank you so much Kimi, for sharing how you process your beautiful photos. I've had fun, and liked the results on photos of my grandsons.
Janna said…
Oh my goodness, Kimi!! Thank you again for posting these directions! I was actually able to do this in CS3!! I'm off to join the forum you linked to so I can upload my pic!! Thanks again!
Janna said…
I think I got a little ahead of myself. I love the way my pic turned out, but it is a portrait of a bride that I took on Friday. I'm going to wait til after Saturday to post it because that is when the wedding is. Odds are nobody who knows her would ever see it on the web, but just in case, I think I'll wait til after her big day. Kimi, I can't thank you enough for your wonderful blog!!

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