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    Russell Viers is a Transition Expert in the publishing world. Since 1997 he has helped newspapers and magazines adapt to changes in the industry. Read more...

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  • Photoshop CS3: Black & White Adjustment

    April 2nd, 2007 by Russell Viers

    If part of your daily routine is converting RGB or CMYK images to black and white, you’re going to love a new adjustment tool in Photoshop CS3…called the…um…Black & White adjustment tool.
    Watch the video to see it in action.
    There are tips-a-plenty all over the internet on how to convert to grayscale. Most customers I watch work just use the standard Image> Mode> Grayscaleand get it out the door. Others will often create an action to convert an image to LAB mode, select the Luminosity Channel, then Image> Mode> Grayscale and discard the A and B channels. Others do all sorts of other nasties to get the job done.
    The big challenge is that certain colors that look different in RGB become the same shade of gray in grayscale.
    This new tool gives you total control over the different colors and how they translate to grays. For example, if you have a red shirt on a blue background, it could easily become nothing but a continuous gray. With the new tool you can have the red become dark and the blue become light…with the simple movement of a slider.
    Look at the rainbow graphic, Figure 1.

    Photoshop Black and White 1

    If you simply convert to grayscale, you get Figure B, which loses definition between some of the colors, like the cyan and green and megenta and red.

    Photoshop Black and White 2

    Instead, if I go to Image> Adjustments> Black & White, you’ll see that with no adjustments the colors have more definition, Figure 3,

    Photoshop Black and White 3

    but if you play for a bit moving the individual sliders, you can really create some contrast, Figure IV.

    Photoshop Black and White 4

    I can’t imagine ever converting to grayscale again without it. And if you are tinting photos, you not only get to apply the color cast you want, but you can still control the colors to create the contrast necessary, as well. This is far more useful than the Hue/Saturation techniques to create a CMYK duotone effect. How many of you used to create a true duotone, then convert back to RGB or CMYK? And, of course, there is the Color Overlay of Photoshop’s Layer Effects, but this beats ‘em all.

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