Turn Your Colored Image into a Dramatic Black and White Effect in Photoshop CS3

Add Drama to Your Image

Black and white images can bring a dramatic effect when creatively set-up. Multi-colored images are pleasing to the eyes though sometimes photos in black and white reveal the real story behind them. This kind of effect is one of the favorites and most commonly used in digital image manipulation. The Adobe Photoshop CS3 brings out several ways to convert a colored photo into a black and white or commonly known as “desaturating.”

Here are some possible ways to desaturate an image in Photoshop CS3.  Appearance may vary depending on the adjustments used from the settings options.

  • Black and White – From the menu Image>Adjustments>Black and White or press ALT+Shift+CTRL+B. Click “OK” when you are done. 
  • Hue/Saturation – From the menu Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation or press CTRL+U.  In the displayed window, you have to move the Hue Slider and the Saturation slider all the way to the left reaching -180 and -100 consecutively. Click “OK” when you are done.
  • Desaturate – From the menu Image>Adjustments>Desaturate or press CTRL+Shift+U. This is a one click and the easiest way of desaturating.
  • Channel Mixer – From the menu Image>Adjustments>Channel Mixer. In the displayed window, take note that you have to check the Monochrome box to make it desaturated. Then click “OK” when you done.
  • Using the Calculations - From the menu Image>Calculations
  • Using Variations – Image>Adjustments>Variations. In the displayed window, select the Saturation from the option and click for the Less Saturation and click “OK.”

In most cases, desaturating may not be enough when you are trying to have a dramatic black and white image. Here are some of the suggested tools and effects on how to enhance more and create such dramatic effects:

  • Capture Your Own Texture – Textures can make images more realistic. You can make your own captured image as texture. As much as possible, make use of suitable Blending Mode for the texture layer.  The Multiply blending mode is the most commonly used. Lower also its opacity if needed.
  • Download and Use Texture Photoshop Brush – Photoshop brushes like grunge, cracks, or scratches are some of the favorite brush textures used in making effects. You can download several of their kinds for free on some sites like Bittbox, Brusheezy, and Trendy Robot.
  • Using the Burn Tool – The Burn tool is located vertically by default between the Blur Tool and the Pen Tool or just press O in your keyboard to active the Burn Tool.  You can use this tool to emphasize some parts of the image particularly the edges.
  • Image Sharpening – Sometimes we capture images in a very soft appearance. They may result in a soft and pale mode when we try to desaturate them.  You can sharpen images in Photoshop CS3 using the plugin filters in the menu Filter>Sharpen. We can make use also of High Pass Sharpening in the menu Filter>Other>High Pass. Settings and adjustments for these filters depends on the size and resolution of the images you are using.
  • Add Noise and Motion Blur – Adding Noise and Motion Blur can give more drama to our effects. Just make use of accurate settings and adjustments for these. Noise and Blur are both default plugin filters of Photoshop CS3.
  • Add Lightning Effect – Adding a lightning effect can give emphasis to our image. Settings can be found in Filter>Render>Lightning Effects

Additionally, here are some of the photo effects which are also perfect to apply to black and white images to make them more dramatic:

  • Old photo – make your photo as if it is been alive for decades
  • Crumpled photo – as if your photo is being crumpled
  • Torn photo – or as if it is torn and ripped

And don’t forget to save your work from time to time (File>Save). So, start making this effect on your own photos by trying it for yourself.


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