Photoshop Tutorial: Black and White the Old Fashioned Way!

I say the old fashioned way because last week I showed you how to do a black and white conversion using an action. The action we used utilizes the same gradient map method that this video tutorial goes over, so it’s a good segue.

Here is what you’ll learn to do in this tutorial. Take a color image like this:

and turn it into pure B&W like this:


or warm it up with a split tone like this:


or change the layer mode of the gradient map to luminosity and get a punchy color image like this:


combine what you’ve learned here with adding a vignette like we did in this tutorial and you can get even more of a vintage look:


split tone with vignette

And here’s something I didn’t go over in the video..

If you change the layer mode of the B&W gradient to “Lighten” and bring down the opacity to taste (here it’s at 47%) and combine with a vignette you end up with a look much like a vintage faded color photograph:




PS I know I tend to go fast because these video files are ginormous if they are over a few minutes. Please post questions if I was unclear about anything.

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Heather says:

I really like this lack and white conversion, I hardly ever do them because I think they often look muddy, or the conversion methods I had tried did.
This is so simple, thanks!

Jessica Nip says:

Thanks for the tutorial. I’m always looking for new ways to do BW conversions and this one looks like a keeper! I’m going to try it right now!

d. says:

I love the tutorials and am learning so much. Thaks for taking the time to do them! Random question — do you use fabric for your backdrops and if so, how much do you need?

ariana says:

Hi D., I’m so glad you find them useful! Yes, that backdrop is fabric. I think it is about 3 yards or so, but you can still get away with 2 or so. I just got extra because it was a remnant and also if I ever get a proper backdrop stand (rather than drape fabric over his crib!) I would want more if we used it with say an adult standing up. Hope that helps!

ariana says:

Graininess comes from using a high ISO, which the camera will automatically use when there is low light and no flash. The BEST thing you can do to improve your indoor picture quality is shoot where there is the most possible light. Usually by a window, sliding glass door etc.

I always use the IA setting (intelligent auto) with the flash set to off.

Hope that helps!

Christina says:

I just had a baby boy about a week ago and I’ve been following your blog for several months. I want to get some good pictures of him but only have a point and shoot camera. I have a panasonic lumix, which I think you mentioned in a previous post that you also have. I am wondering if you have any suggestions for how to get good, clear indoor pictures with this camera. All of my pictures seem to turn out too dark or grainy. I’ve tried experimenting with different settings but so far I haven’t had much success.

kari says:

todays was really GREAT! and i am impressed that you can use the word “luminosity” in a sentence ;) have a fun weekend now that your little family is all back together!

lelu says:

Jasper is such a handsome baby! I don’t have a great camera yet so haven’t really been learning from your photshop posts but Love all of the pictures of your sweet baby. You’re so talented!

ariana says:

Angie, thanks for letting me know you like them! I don’t get many comments when I post them so I always wonder..

Angie says:

THANK YOU! I love these tutorials! Keep them coming. I bought a book on photoshop for dummies and it hasn’t taught me half the stuff you have. I look foward every Friday to these tutorials. I knew there was another way to black and white that looked better than a regular conversion. Thank you!