A beginner level tutorial that shows you how to convert your images to back and white, improve them and restore detail. Also, the tutorial explains why Image > Mode > Grayscale is not the best way to convert your images to back and white.


  1. Channels
  2. Channel Mixer

This is our original image. The obvious problem is the sky—the lack of detail and the sky color. In the image we see an abandoned house and a lonely tree—a very sad view—at least it must be sad but the image fails to convey the feeling. The happy overexposed color of the sky ruins the impression. Colors only destruct us; they have nothing to add to this particular  image. Let’s convert the image to back and white and see what we will get.original



I guess you got used to Image > Mode > Grayscale command to convert images to back and white. Let me show you a better way. You will be glad you learnt it. Moreover, this tutorial is an easy and short one.


Let us start with examining the Red, Green and Blue channels of the image. Select Window > Channels from the top menu. Here is what the Channels palette looks like:


You can make channels visible or invisible by clicking on the Eye icon.

red-channel green-channel blue-channel
Red channel Green channel Blue channel

As you see, the red channel has the most detail in the sky area while the blue channel has no detail at all.

Channel Mixer

Go to Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer and select the Monochrome checkbox at the bottom of the Channel Mixer window. Remember, to get a natural look, all the Source Channels sliders must add up to 100%. let’s set the Red and Green channels to +100 and Blue channel to –100.

channels-2Here is our final image.

house-finalCompare it to a Grayscale conversion below. See the difference? We got darker more detailed sky and lighter grass—exactly the effect we were after. grayscale  The beauty of Photoshop is that it gives you a great control of your images. Keep shooting and happy black and white conversions to you!

Written by Olia Picver
a blogger and a photographer. I'd love to connect with you. Add me as your friend and drop me a message as I'd love to hear from you and help you in any way I can. You can connect with me via the following social sites: Digg