Photoshop CS3: Black and White Layer

There are lots of ways to convert a color image to black and white in Photoshop. Some people use the channel mixer, more advanced users may bring each of the RGB channels into their own layer and use masks. Various plugins and actions are available to simulate different looks.

I was catching up on excellent Photoshop Workbench tutorials over on The Radiant Vista this morning. About half way into the March 22nd episode my jaw hit the ground. Photoshop CS3 has an amazing black and white conversion tool — the new Black and White adjustment layer. The BW layer gives you individual luminosity control over the colors RGB and CMY. You can either use the sliders in the dialog box, or just hover over the area you want to brighten or darken.

If you’re a fan of using a Selective Color layer for color images, this approach will quite intuitive. Kiss the Channel Mixer conversions goodbye folks, the Black and White adjustment layer rocks. If you’re short on time, jump about 9 minutes into Mark Johnson’s Photoshop Workbench episode to check it out.

2 thoughts on “Photoshop CS3: Black and White Layer”

  1. Thanks for the heads-up one this one, Joe! I still had a B/W conversion tool on my shopping list. Now, I can put that money towards a down payment on a CS3 upgrade.


  2. This is very cool. I like the control. I’ve always used an action I created from the Russell Preston Brown B&W Conversion Method (detailed here: ). What I love of that method is the tweaking at the end literally carries your subtly through your color image as if it was a B&W image but as if using each and every B&W filter out there and the nuances in between. No making sure you add up to 100% as with the Channels Mixer method which always drove me nuts.

    I was hoping there’d be not enough reasons to upgrade to CS3 from CS2. Now there just may be…

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