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High Contrast Black And White Images

By | 21/11/2022





Instant High Contrast Black and White Photos with Photoshop

Instant High Dissimilarity Black and White Photos with Photoshop



Learn how to turn your images to high contrast black and white with Photoshop using Gradient Maps, the fastest and easiest style to create great looking B&West photos!

In this tutorial, I prove you how to instantly convert photos to loftier dissimilarity black and white in Photoshop using a Gradient Map. At that place are lots of ways to convert images to black and white, but Gradient Maps are i of the best because they are and then fast and easy to use, and they give us nifty results. I’ll show yous how to utilize a Gradient Map, and I’ll testify y’all the secret to why Slope Maps give black and white photos such a loftier dissimilarity wait.

Hither’s an example of what the final high contrast blackness and white upshot will look similar when nosotros’re done:

A high contrast black and white photo created in Photoshop

The final effect.


Let’s get started!

Which version of Photoshop practise I need?

I used Photoshop 2021 merely any recent version will work. Become the latest Photoshop version.

The certificate setup

I’ll utilise this image from Adobe Stock:

The original photo that will be converted to high contrast black and white in Photoshop.

The original photo.

Gradient Maps vs Photoshop’due south Desaturate control

To really meet how great of a job a Gradient Map can do with black and white photos, we’ll compare it to Photoshop’s Desaturate command, which is a quick way to remove the color from an image. Both Gradient Maps and the Desaturate control are substantially i-click solutions, so let’s see which i is meliorate at converting an image to black and white.

We’ll start with the Desaturate control. In the Layers console, the prototype appears on the Background layer:

Photoshop's Layers panel showing the image on the Background layer.

Photoshop’southward Layers panel.

Make a copy of the Background layer past dragging it down onto the
New Layer
icon:

Making a copy of the Background layer in Photoshop's Layers panel.

Dragging the Background layer onto the New Layer icon.

Then double-click on the copy’s name (Background copy):

Double-clicking on the layer's name.

Double-clicking on the name
Background re-create.

And rename it

Desaturated
. Press
Enter
(Win) /
Render
(Mac) to have it:

Renaming the layer Desaturated.

Renaming the layer
Desaturated.

To remove the color, go up to the
Image
menu in the Carte du jour Bar, then to
Adjustments:

Opening Photoshop's Image menu and choosing Adjustments.

Going to Image > Adjustments.

And choose the
Desaturate
control:

Choosing the Desaturate command in Photoshop

Choosing Desaturate.

Photoshop instantly removes the colour from the epitome, leaving it in black and white.

But the result is not very impressive. There are no dark shadows or brilliant highlights to requite it that high contrast look we’d expect from a great black and white image. Instead, it just looks like what information technology is; an image with no color:

The black and white image using Photoshop's Desaturate command

The black and white result using the Desaturate command.


How to convert an image to B&W with a Gradient Map

So allow’s compare the event from the Desaturate command to what we become using a Gradient Map.

I’ll turn the
Desaturated
layer off past clicking its
visibility icon:

Turning off the Desaturated layer by clicking its visibility icon

Turning off the
Desaturated
layer.

Step i: Reset Photoshop’s Foreground and Background colors

Earlier calculation the Gradient Map, make sure in the toolbar that your
Foreground and Groundwork colors
are set to their defaults, with
blackness
for the Foreground and
white
for the Groundwork:

Photoshop's Foreground and Background colors in the toolbar

The Foreground and Background colors.

The reason is that past default, Gradient Maps use a slope based on our current Foreground and Groundwork colors. So if yours are set to different colors, click the small
Reset icon
above them. Or press the letter
D
(for Defaults) on your keyboard:

Resetting Photoshop's Foreground and Background colors in the toolbar

Clicking the Reset icon.

Step ii: Add a Slope Map adjustment layer

So to add a Gradient Map, become dorsum to the Layers panel, click the
New Fill or Adjustment Layer
icon at the lesser:

Clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon in Photoshop's Layers panel

Clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon.

And cull a
Gradient Map
adjustment layer from the list:

Adding a Gradient Map adjustment layer above the image

Adding a Slope Map adjustment layer.

And instantly, we get a much higher contrast black and white image, with darker shadows, brighter highlights and more overall detail:

A black and white image created in Photoshop using a Gradient Map

The blackness and white result using the Slope Map.

Comparing the results

Here’south a side-by-side comparison of the results from the Desaturate command (left) and the Gradient Map (correct).

It’s easy to encounter how much better the Slope Map’due south black and white version looks, even though it took the aforementioned amount of time. The higher dissimilarity makes the image pop, with more detail in his confront and pilus, and more than obvious textures in his sweater and in the background:

Comparing the black and white conversions from Photoshop's Desaturate command (left) and the Gradient Map (right)

The Desaturate control (left) and the Gradient Map (correct).

How Gradient Maps convert images to blackness and white

So why are Gradient Maps so adept at creating high contrast black and white images? In that location’south actually two reasons. And the outset is because of how a Gradient Map works.

I embrace Slope Maps in much more particular in another tutorial where we learn how to colour grade images with Gradient Maps. But long story brusk, a Gradient Map takes the original colors in your prototype and replaces them with the colors from a slope.

In the Backdrop panel, we come across the gradient that the Gradient Map is using. And past default, it’s based on our Foreground and Background colors, which is why we reset them to black and white:

Photoshop's Properties panel showing the gradient being used by the Gradient Map.

Photoshop’s Backdrop panel showing the gradient.

Slope Maps supersede colors based on their brightness. So because we’re using a black to white slope, the darkest colors in the paradigm are existence replaced with black or dark gray. The brightest colors are now white or light gray. And the colors with their effulgence somewhere in the eye are now a shade of gray from the midtones in the slope:

How Photoshop's Gradient Maps replace colors

The original colors are replaced with the gradient colors based on their brightness.

Why do Gradient Maps create high dissimilarity images?

And so that’s why the paradigm was converted to blackness and white when we added the Gradient Map. But why does the blackness and white paradigm have such high contrast? Why is the contrast with the Slope Map not only college than the desaturated version, simply even higher than the original image? The reason is because of an choice found in the Slope Editor.

Opening the Gradient Editor

To open the Gradient Editor, click on the gradient in the Properties panel:

Clicking the gradient in the Properties panel to open Photoshop's Gradient Editor

Clicking the gradient to open up the Gradient Editor.

The Smoothness selection

And here in the Slope Editor, merely above the slope preview bar, is an option chosen
Smoothness. By default, Smoothness is set to
100 percent. And that means that Photoshop is trying to polish out the transitions between the dissimilar colors, or in this case the different shades of greyness, in the slope:

The Smoothness option set to 100 percent in Photoshop's Gradient Editor

The Smoothness pick in the Gradient Editor.

How Smoothness affects dissimilarity

Simply this smoothing feature also increases the dissimilarity in the gradient. It’southward enhancing the difference between the dark and light tones by pushing darker tones more towards black and lighter tones closer to white. And this is what’s giving us that higher dissimilarity await with our black and white image.

Spotter what happens to the prototype if we lower the Smoothness down to
0 percent:

Lowering the Smoothness option for the gradient down to 0 percent.

Lowering Smoothness to 0 per centum.

All of a sudden we lose the college contrast, and the blackness and white image at present looks more like the result from the Desaturate command:

The black and white image result after lowering the Smoothness option for the gradient down to 0 percent.

Lowering the Smoothness value lowers the contrast.

Only when I increase the Smoothness back to 100 percent, the higher contrast returns:

The high contrast black and white version returns after increasing the gradient Smoothness to 100 percent.

Increasing the Smoothness value increases the contrast.

Expanding and contracting the shadows and highlights

If you lot pay attention to the slope preview bar as you increment and decrease the Smoothness value, you can actually come across what’s happening to the slope. Detect how far the darkest shades on the left and the brightest shades on the right are extending in towards the midtones with Smoothness set to 100 percent:

The gradient with Smoothness at 100 percent.

The shadows and highlights expand with Smoothness at 100 percent.

But as you lower the Smoothness value, those darkest and lightest shades go pushed back toward the edges, which brightens up the midtones. And at 0 percent smoothness, nosotros get a more than natural transition from blackness to white:

The gradient with Smoothness at 0 percent.

The shadows and highlights contract with Smoothness at 0 pct.

I’ll leave the Smoothness at 0 percentage for the moment and I’ll click OK to close the Gradient Editor.

And here’south a comparison between the desaturated version (left) and the Slope Map with Smoothness set to 0 pct (right). Now that we’ve taken away the Gradient Map’s reward by lowering the smoothness, the 2 versions look more than similar, although the Gradient Map still looks a bit better:

The high contrast black and white version returns after increasing the gradient Smoothness to 100 percent.

Without smoothing, the Gradient Map (correct) looks closer to the desaturated image (left).

Of class, the whole point of using a Gradient Map is to go that high contrast effect. So I’ll reopen the Gradient Editor and I’ll fix the Smoothness back to 100 per centum. And then I’ll click OK to shut it. And now nosotros’re back to the high contrast black and white image:

A black and white image created in Photoshop using a Gradient Map

The result with Smoothness reset to 100 pct.

Summary

And so I actually simply wanted to show you why Gradient Maps produce such high contrast black and white photos. Merely to use a Gradient Map, but make sure your
Foreground and Background colors
are set to the defaults. Press
D
on your keyboard if they’re non. So in the Layers panel, click the
New Fill or Adjustment Layer
icon, choose
Gradient Map, and yous’re washed!

And there we have it! But Gradient Maps can do and so much more than catechumen images to black and white. They’re likewise cracking for adding creative colour effects to your images, which you tin can learn all near in my Color Grading with Slope Maps tutorial.

If you plant this lesson helpful, be sure to check out my other Photo Furnishings and Photo Editing tutorials. And don’t forget, all of my Photoshop tutorials are at present available to download as PDFs!


Source: https://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/high-contrast-black-and-white/