Draining Color

You’ve probably heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.” In Photoshop, that saying translates to, “The quickest method ain’t always the best!” In other words, some techniques just take a little extra time, and converting a color image to black and white is one of ’em—but it’s well worth the effort.

To drive that point home, open a colorful image—you can download Dragon.jpg from this book’s Missing CD page at www.missingmanuals.com/cds if you want to follow along—and then choose Image→Adjustments→Desaturate. (Desaturating means draining all color from an image.) Photoshop converts your image to black and white all right, but the results are less than inspiring (see Figure 9-1, top). You can also glance through your channels (Chapter 6), pick the one with the highest contrast, and then choose Image→Mode→Grayscale. Photoshop keeps the currently active channel, tosses the rest, and you’re left with a black-and-white image…that nobody is going to write home about. As you’re about to find out, Photoshop has several ways to produce beautiful black-and-white conversions, not including the two methods mentioned above.

Top: Sure, the Desaturate command lets you convert photos to black and white in one step, but as you can see, this method produces a very lame dragon.Bottom: A Black & White Adjustment layer lets you introduce all kinds of contrast, making it a much better option for black-and-white conversions (and for producing a respectably menacing creature).Another (older) way to create a black-and-white image is to use a Channel Mixer Adjustment layer. Cruise on over to this book’s Missing CD page at www.missingmanuals.com/cds to learn how.

Figure 9-1. Top: Sure, the Desaturate command lets you convert photos to black and white in one step, but as you can see, this method produces a very lame dragon. Bottom: A Black & White Adjustment layer lets you introduce all kinds of contrast, making it a ...

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