Saturday, February 14, 2009

Turning Color Image into B&W

This tutorial is about taking a color image, turning it into a Black & White image and partially bringing back some of the color. With a little lesson dealing with the brush opacity thrown in. You can click on any of the images to see the full size. This will also come in handy for you to see an example of when I am explaining about the bleeding of color with a soft tip brush.
The first image is the orginal. If you like to follow along just right click the image and save picture as.


1. Select the Layers Adjustment Black & White Circle icon at the bottom of your Layers Panels. Then select Black and White from the drop down list.


2. Next the Black and White dialog box will appear. At the top of the box you will see a Preset Drop Down Box. The Preset I choose was the Black Maximum and left the sliders down below as is. ( The step I just showed you is a preference that I like because of the look it gives me. So if you are feeling adventurous this morning go ahead and try each preset to see which one looks best with the image you are working with now. Don’t worry, nothing is final until you click the OK button on the right hand side of the box. ) When you have made your choice click OK.


3. As you look over at your Layers Panel you will see your new Black & White Adjustment Layer a top of your background layer with 2 boxes in it.


3.b The first box is called a Layer Thumbnail. If you double click this box it will bring the Black and White Dialog box back up. This will allow you to see the settings you have chosen or if you need to tweak one way or another down the road. Now one word of warning here. If you save this image as a JPEG. If later down the road there is something you would like to change for different reasons you won’t be able to from the original settings you have chosen. A jpeg compresses a image which means it mashes all the layers together and makes them into one so it can make the image file size smaller. If you like to preserver the work you have done so you can manipulate it later down the road make sure you save it as a PSD too.


3.C The second box you see is called the Layer Mask Thumbnail. This is the one that we will use to paint on and bring some color back into our image.


4. Make sure your Layer Mask Thumbnail is selected by click it on once.

5. Select your Brush Tool by hitting the letter B on your keyboard.

6. After selecting the brush tool, we want to make sure the brush we are using is a soft brush. For this project I choose the soft brush 300.


7. Hit D on your keyboard to make sure your color chips are set to default.

8. Hit X on your keyboard to flip the color chip so that black is your foreground color. (Remember, black reveals. White conceals.)


(Here’s a little brush trivia from my experience before we begin to paint back in the color of the leaves. When using a hard tip brush you create hard harsh edges.This can be good for a lot of different purposes, but can be a lot harder to control when using a mouse.

When using a soft tip brush, the brush will bleed out larger then what the actually size of the brush is. The smaller the brush the less it will bleed. By bleeding I mean, when you take a real paint brush dip it in some paint and then hold it down on a piece of paper. You will notice that the paint starts to seep away from the brush as the paper absorbs it. The farther it recedes from the brush the lighter the paints get. It is the same in Photoshop with a soft tip brush.)

9. Look at the brush option tool bar. Make sure that opacity and flow are both set to 100%. Begin to paint your first leaf only. If you need to make your brush smaller in spots just hit the left bracket key on your keyboard. When your ready to enlarge the brush again tap the right bracket key. (Don’t worry if you go outside of the leaf. This is very easy to fix by concealing it again with white. Just hit the X key on your keyboard to flip your color chips. I like to bring back all my color first and then go back and do the touch up.) As you can see from the picture below the orginal color is just a little to loud in color for the Black and White Preset we have chosen . In the rest of the tutorial we will work on toning it down.


In the next step we will drop the opacity setting that is in the Brush Option Tool Menu. The reason we use the opacity setting in Brush tool menu instead of the layers panels opacity setting is if you lower the opacity in the layers panel you are affecting the whole image. It will actually Bring the color back into your whole image. This isn’t the effect we want. By using the Brush Opacity you are actually controlling the color you bring back into the image exactly where you want it without affecting the rest.

10. Lets move on to the second leaf and drop the opacity in the Brush Option Bar to 75 % this time and paint your 2nd leaf.

11. By this time I am sure you have noticed that your second leaf is looking splotchy and just all around not pretty at all. The reason behind this is because you are not painting at 100% so if you happen to cross path with a section you have already painted it will darken the image because it is actually applying more paint to the already painted area again. For now don’t worry about that. I wanted you to see what happens when this occurs. We will deal with it on leaf 3 & 4.


12. On leaf 3 leave your Brush Opacity at 75%. Paint from the middle of the leaf out leaving the edges of the leaf alone.

13. Drop your Brush Opacity to 38% and paint the edges in on leaf 3. Yes, the edges are lighter so you’ll have to go over them a couple of times in areas.

OK, now leaf 3 looks a lot better and more blended together then leaf 2. However, it still looks splotchy in spots where you might have overlapped a little to much. Lets move along to our final leaf. Leaf 4.

14. Reset your Brush Opacity to 75% again paint from the middle out leaving the edges alone.

15. Reset your Brush Opacity to 38% painting in the leaves edges. Do this only once. I know you will be tempted to hit a couple of spots twice but please do not.

16. Reset your Brush Opacity to 25% and paint the whole leaf this time.This blends the leaf together a little bit better.

17. Reset your Brush Opacity to 16% this time and hit those spots that you think are still to dark. The leafs edges mostly. You may have to do this several times. To make it all look consisted. If it seems like it starting to get to dark yet it still needs more in some spots hit undo and then just drop you opacity a little bit more and see how that looks.


Don’t be afraid to play with the opacity. You can always go back and redo it. This is about playing around and learning different things. Figure out what works for you and go for it.


18. OK, now that you have your Leaves looking the way you like it. This is where you do our clean up. Hit the X key on the keyboard to flip our paint chip to white. Make sure your brush opacity is set at 100 and paint around the outside of the leaves where your brush bleed outside of the leaf onto the foliage. You will have to adjust your brush size as needed. There were times when my brush was as small as number 8.

Well thats it for this tutorial. I hope you all enjoyed it. If you have any questions about anything just let me know in the comment area. As always if you like to share your results with me just let me know I love seeing them.


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