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Black & White Adjustment Layer CS3/4


Converting from Colour to Mono using the Black and White Adjustment Layer in Photoshop®  CS3 & CS4.


A welcome addition to Photoshop® CS3 was the inclusion of the Black & White Adjustment layer, also to be found in Photoshop® CS4. It is a dedicated and versatile Adjustment Layer for the conversion of colour to monochrome unlike Channel Mixer, included in all recent versions of Photoshop®, which is not dedicated purely to monochrome although an option to convert is offered along with a few conversion presets (only in CS3 and CS4). The respective Black & White dialogue boxes for CS3 and CS4 are shown below in Figs 1 & 2:



Fig 1.0   B & W Adjustment Layer Dialogue Box - Photoshop® CS3

Fig 1.1   B & W Adjustment Layer Dialogue Box - Photoshop® CS4



Fig 2.0  B & W Adjustment Layer Presets Photoshop® CS3

Fig 2.1  B & W Adjustment Layer Preset Photoshop® CS4


Using the Black and White Adjustment Layer


Fig 3  Location of Add Adjustment Layer icon


Fig 4  B & W Cursor inCS3



Fig 5  Location of B & W adjustment cursor in CS4


Applying a Black & White Adjustment Layer in the manner described above is only the first step in converting a colour image to monochrome. Although the adjustments made on the layer are relatively localised as opposed to global this should not be regarded as the finished product and the application of further Layers and Layer Masks (Levels, Curves, etc.) are necessary for fine tuning in specific areas.

The method of using the Black & White Adjustment layer outlined above is the preferred method in that a specific tone can be adjusted by clicking and dragging on it. However the use of one of the Presets in the dropdown list may give a result which satisfies as may adjusting the individual colour sliders. As noted above the conversion to black and white is only the starting point in the production of a high quality monochrome image.

Reproduced below are the 3 stages as described above in converting ‘Castle and Cottonwood’ to monochrome – the original was a colour slide.


Fig 6  Original Scan from 35mm slide


Fig 7  Default conversion by adding a Black & White Adjustment Layer


Fig 8  Adjusted on Black & White Adjustment Layer


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