Photoshop CS3 – Create a Black and White Image

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More often than not, instead of shooting a picture using my camera’s black and white (or “grayscale”) setting, I prefer to take color photographs and convert them to black and white. Rather than going to Image/Mode/Grayscale in Photoshop CS3 to turn a color photo into black and white, here is a new technique that I learned from the wisdom of Scott Kelby.

Once again, my cat Oz is my unwitting accomplice for this tutorial.

First, open the photo you want to work with in Photoshop (CS3 is used for this tutorial).

Exposure: 0.025 sec (1/40), Aperture: f/5.6, Focal Length: 47 mm, ISO Speed: 400

Press the letter “D” on the keyboard to set the foreground color to black, then click on the “Create New Adjustment Layer” button and choose “Gradient Map”.


Click on “OK”, and you can be finished right here if you want. Your picture is converted to black and white, and all is right with the world.


If you want to continue to play with the picture, though, you can run through the following steps to add more depth, contrast, and oomph to your photo.

Bring up the “Gradient Editor” by double clicking on the “Gradient Map” adjustment layer’s thumbnail, then when that menu box comes up, click once directly on the gradient. The “Gradient Editor” is now opened.


Position the cursor in the center of the gradient scale and click once to add a “stop”:


Next, double-click on the stop that you just created, which brings up the “Select Stop Color” menu. Choose a gray color – as light or as dark as applies to your photo. You can see the image in the background changing as you click, so feel free to play around with this to achieve the effect you’re looking for.


In this case, I wanted the details to be a bit lighter than the black and white that was applied in the original adjustment layer. Once the color you want is selected, click on “OK” to close the “Color Picker”, but leave the “Gradient Editor” open for now.

At this point, you can lighten or darken the overall picture by sliding the gray stop that you created to the right or left on the gradient scale. Once you’re happy with the picture, click on “OK” to exit the “Gradient Editor”, and “OK” again to exit the “Gradient Map”.

This is my result at this point:


Today it’s a popular technique to “bleed” a little of the color back into your black and white image. To do this, go to the “Layers” panel and lower the opacity of the “Gradient Map” adjustment layer.


Play around with the percentage until you’ve achieved the effect you’re looking for. I lowered the opacity to 80%, and this was the result:


Finally, flatten the image, and you’re done! I hope you find this technique to be as useful as it is fun. Feel free to share your own images in the comments.

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  • Radule

    Thank you for tutorial

  • Anonymous

    no twat. obv not :L

  • Samira

    Great tutorial! I'm going to try this, and post up here in a bit :)

  • Samira

    An overlay effect creates a grungy effect. I took a pinkish gray for the middle stop for the gradient map.