Magazine Article


Black & White and Photoshopped All Over


Black & White and
Photoshopped All Over

How to Produce Colorful Black & White Special Effects


Grayscale Minus Saturation


Creating black & white images with great tones can be challenging using Photoshop. Many of you have emailed me for suggestions on the best way to accomplish this.
It turns out there are many ways to create a b&w image using Photoshop. Your results will vary depending on the image you are using and the type of effect you want to achieve. So you must be willing to experiment with these techniques.
The first technique is achieved by going to the image menu, selecting mode, and selecting grayscale. This is a technique that gives you no control as far as setting highlights, midtones, and shadows. So, for most photographers this isn't the best way to go.


Another technique, which is popular with Photoshop devotees, is achieved by going to the layer menu, selecting hue and saturation and typing in —100 in the saturation box. This takes all the color out of the image. Sometimes we use this to keep a little color in an image.
One of my favorite ways to create b&w images is by using the layer called channel mixer. The channel mixer adjustment layer enables you to control your highlights, midtones, and shadows very precisely. Go to the layer menu, select new adjustment layer, and then select channel mixer. Voila!
Notice that there are many options in the dialogue box. First click in the box that says monochrome. Now your image is b&w. Then adjust the red, green, and blue slider to add much more depth and contrast. See how the clouds have a totally different feel?
Lastly, the image of DJ Hawthorne was shot in color and then changed to b&w by creating a channel mixer layer. I then went into the layer mask and erased the area of her eyes so the blue would print and have a hand-colored effect.
Have fun with your images in Photoshop and feel free to experiment. I find that the best techniques and effects often happen by accident or while you're on your way to creating something else, but hit the wrong command by mistake.
One last hint: Try the gradient map adjustment layer for some really cool 1960s effects!
If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to contact me.

Helene DeLillo, President, Dancing Icon, Inc., is a digital imaging artist and photographer who works for high-profile clients, including some of the most demanding in the fashion and entertainment industries, such as J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, and Warner Music Group. Her digital imaging work has appeared on the covers of many major photography magazines, including Digital Camera, Design Graphics, and Studio Photography & Design. She lectures internationally on digital imaging and digital photography, and can be reached via email at or in her Tribeca studio at