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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop CS6
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Colorize and Black & White Conversion

  • The BEST way to make a B&W is with the B&W converter as an adjustment layer. You have complete control of all color channels to bring back any dullness caused by de-saturation. Using the adjustment layer B&W conversion allows you to change it at any time non-destructively.
  • The Colorize feature is an easy method to create Sepia tone effects on a whole image, or to change collar of selected objects. You can activate it with the checkbox in the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

Colorize and Black & White Conversion

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:07
  • Demonstration 1: Colorize 0:32
    • Colorize
  • Demonstration 2: Black & White Conversion 7:40
    • Black & White Conversion Using Hue/Saturation
    • Black & White Conversion Using Grayscale
    • Black & White Conversion Using Black & White Adjustment
  • Demonstration 3: Black & White Conversion 11:25
    • Black & White Adjustment

Transcription: Colorize and Black & White Conversion

Hi everyone, Michael Brown with you again, welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

In this particular lesson, we're still dealing with exposure and color--I'm going to show you a couple of nice, neat features in Photoshop: colorize and black and white conversion--there are actually three ways to convert to black and white, and colorize is how to change color of an object or objects in your image, so let's get started.0007

We'll talk about colorize first, let me go to this image which I already did this, so I really want to go back here.0030

Alright, I'm going to flatten this image out so that we can just get right to it.0040

Alright, here I've got this shot I took of a red Mercedes at a dealership.0046

Let's say the client likes the shot, except they go "you know, we didn't want the car red, we want it another color, can you change the color?" and everybody goes "oh yeah, sure"--your normal thought is that it's very easy to do, we just select the sheet metal which is a particular channel that I've already made a selection isolates that area, and there it is...and so now I have a selection of the sheet metal, and so you go--alright, we'll just take the hue saturation control and we'll change the hue, which is the color wheel, so let's give it a try.0053

I could go to the Image, Adjustments down to hue saturation but I'm going to do it as an adjustment layer so that you can see it and we can alter it if necessary.0092

Here's the same control, under here that resides up here--the difference here is if I take these controls, it works directly on the pixels and I can't go back and show it to you, where over, it preserves it as an individual layer that can always be changed.0102

There's the hue saturation--same control box, so we have--and if you look up here you can see a tiny little thumbnail that has the isolation of just the sheet metal, so you go "fine, I'll just change the hue" and you go like this, and all of a sudden you go "wait, wait, wait, wait a minute, what happened here?0120

I've got yellow at the top of the car, yellow/green down here--somewhat a green tone here, we've got purple working down the side here, what happened?"...well let's take a closer look from the very beginning.0143

Alright, let's close this box up...what happened, is this is a location shot, not a studio shot, and so as the light and the angle of the object towards the sun, which is the only light source here, the sky's a light source too but less prominent, you get subtle changes--let's take a close look.0161

In this section right here you can see three different colorations; in this upper right section it's a bright red, kind of with a little yellow cast--you can see the same up in here--this is all reddish yellow.0193

But in this area below where the sheet metal bends under or gets a little flatter to the side so the sun is less direct, and you're getting more light coming in--more shadow light from the blue sky, the red is darker and it's hard to see but it has a little bit of blue cast to it.0208

You can see more of that as we get up where the angle goes away from the sun up here--the color gets washed out, but it's got bluish tinge in it, just as you see in the windows.0230

They're all blue, and right here where you get the shadow cast by the rearview mirror, look closely--it doesn't even look red, it's just purely blue, and then when you get down to the bottom...0242

It's very hard to see on the monitors, even mine--you're getting an impact from the green grass reflecting up which is actually affecting the color underneath on the lower parts of the car.0254

So that's why when we did the color wheel, you get--notice how green it gets at the bottom, you get this orange, you get this yellow, you get all sorts of different colors and you even get purple, and the other thing you get since it's not completely uniform throughout, you get a very speckled look.0263

So, changing color under natural light is not that easy.0289

Again, if this was in a studio where every single studio light is exactly the same color temperature, it doesn't matter whether it's shadow or highlights, you could do a color wheel without anything else, so you go "how do we do this?"'s very simple.0294

In the hue saturation box down here, look down--we have this little check box called Colorize.0311

All we have to do is click the check box and what it does, is it runs the hue down to zero, and it de-saturates and makes it all a neutral color without even changing it--let's take a closer look.0318

First of all, it isn't speckled as much--it's uniform--yes it's bright right here, but it's the same color.0333

Over here where the shadows were look; the color is now unaffected by any shadow areas and down at the bottom where it's dark, again, it's all uniform.0340

It just de-saturated it and made it one even color tone with different brightness's and darkness's so all you have to do is adjust your saturation back up to the level you want it, and change the hue to match whatever color on the color wheel you might like for your automobile.0353

Let's put it at a kind of a mid-blue and take--actually let's go away from blue because that's too close to the sky, don't want it purple, but even at purple you can see that the color is the same--let's go back for kind of an orange look...that's a fairly acceptable color right there, and we'll zoom it up and look in the dark areas it's just dark, where before it was red and blue--notice it's just lighter or darker--same color.0375

Up in the highlight areas, again, same color just lighter or darker, and the proof of the pudding really is in the shadows, where the blue was affecting it, now it's just uniform, so that is how you use the colorize feature in the hue saturation dialog box.0413

Isolate an area, click colorize, adjust your saturation and your hue, and change the color to whatever you want to--best obviously for using in situations where it's natural light and you get different variations of tonality, so that takes care of colorize.0433

Let's put another layer in here...and check that off.0454

Now let's take a look at converting a color photo to black and white.0459

I have actually two photos here that we're going to play with...there are three ways to do this; one of them doesn't work very well, the other one works pretty good, the third one is almost equal with more control--let's start with the one that doesn't work the best, and that would be...0465

Go into your hue saturation dialog box again, I'm going to put the layer up but you could have gone Image, Adjust, hue saturation--there's the dialog box, and we'll just take the saturation down to zero.0484

And what happens--you get this very, very flat looking image where you've lost all sorts of detail, you can't tell any difference between the yellow, the reds and the greens--they've all just gone gray, it's like a color blind photo--very, not even good looking, so let's bring the saturation back up to zero...we're not even going to use the hue saturation in this regard--we'll just trash that.0500

Under your Image menu under Mode, you can use grayscale...and it asks you if you want to discard the color information.0512

You discard, and once again it is now black and white--looks a lot better than it did the other way, you can see some differential between the yellow trees and the green trees but they're still--like in this area here there are yellows and greens but it all looks the same.0522

The reds and the yellows are separated, it looks better, but we can still do better than that.0543

I will undo that--the best way is Image, Adjust, black and white, and we'll do it over here where we can readjust; Image, Adjust, black and white--exactly the same box.0569

Now, it has de-saturated this and it doesn't look very good, but look what we have--we have individual channel--we also have pre-sets here, you can play with this to see what happens--you can make it infrared right there, you can do a high contrast red filters, you can play with just plain old red filters--all sorts of black and white filtration combinations if you want to.0583

But we're just going to go back to default, and we're going to play with individual color channels--notice we have red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta--the same six colors you have in the color balance, so we want to pop the reds a little bit.0612

We'll make the reds a little darker--let's try the yellows and open all those wonderful yellows that were there, back up and notice how dynamic this is beginning to look?0629

The greens, which is where the trees are, we can brighten them or darken them just a little bit, cyans affect the sky, and the blues also are involved in the sky and the mountains, and by playing--let's see, the cyans are less in the mountains--just play with that a little.0639

Do we have any magenta at all.0659

Let's tint this thing--you can sepia tone by adjusting whatever colored tonality and tint you might want to throw on it.0662

You have all sorts of options here to play with, but by playing with the color sliders in the black and white, notice how dynamic the image looks now--we definitely see our yellows and blacks.0671

OK, that's how you do the black and white--let me just demonstrate it one more time with one of my favorite places on Earth; this is Maroon Bells, outside of Aspen, Colorado, third week of September when the color changed--one of the most fabulous and awe inspiring spots on Earth, let's go black and white.0684

There we go, we're going to take those gorgeous yellows and snap those up, take the reds and darken them down to snap them, let's do the blue control and a little cyan control to snap the lake and the sky becomes darker, and let's play with those greens just to get a little separation...a little more yellow--let's brighten it up just a hair, and the reds--darken them down just a little bit more, and there you have Maroon Bells in color, Maroon Bells in black and white.0706

By using the black and white feature, either under the Adjustment menu or under you adjustment layers, and playing with the individual color channels.0750

Again you could make this into a sepia tone as well after you have adjusted the various channels--look how nice that looks...what if we did this in a nice, cold blue...just drop it down just to a nice tinted, incredible.0762

There you have a lesson on how to colorize, and also how to make a color photo into a black and white image in Photoshop CS6.0784