An Elements greyscale conversion using two hue and saturation
adjustment layers is a truly
amazing technique for creating absolutely wonderful black and white
images. The method was developed for Photoshop by a fellow
named Russell Brown.
If you're not a lover of black and white shots then perhaps this is not
for you. If, however, you figure that a good black and white
picture is just about the best thing you've ever seen then you will
probably like this conversion method.
The built in Convert To Black and
command in the Elements Enhance menu will do a good black and white
similar to the Channel Mixer adjustment which is available in the full
version of Photoshop without the full range of control.
As stated earlier, this elements greyscale technique uses two Hue and Saturation
The first Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer emulates Black and White Film,
The second Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer acts
one would use with Black and White film.
real beauty of this technique is the incredible range of adjustments
available with the "Filter" Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer.
Here's how to create an
Elements Greyscale with the dual Hue and
Saturation Adjustment Layer method - and this is the image we will be
Open the image you want to convert to Black and White.
Make a copy of the original image by dragging the Background to the new
Create a Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer above the copied
when the dialogue
comes up lower the Saturation slider in the Adjustments Panel to -100.
remove all of the color and create a greyscale image. Name this layer
With this image this is the result ....
Now that's not a bad black and white but more can be done
The filter layer is the important layer because it simulates the most
often used filters in black and white photography. The reason for
the importance of the filters in black and white photography is that
while some of shades of red, green and blue will be obviously different
in color, they will tend to look very similar in black and white.
What this does is create a flat and lifeless black and white picture
with very little punch and contrast.
Using a colored filter on the camera lens created separation (quite
dramatic is some situations). In an elements greyscale digital
conversion adding a colored filter on a layer above the image will
create very similar results to adding a filter to the camera lens.
The Filter Layer
The next step is to add a second Hue and Saturation layer above the
Background layer and below the Film layer.
Change the Blend Mode of the new layer to Color and name the layer
This layer simulates the colored filters one would use
with black and white film and provides a wide range of possible
Here's the layers palette after the two layers were added ...
With the Filter layer selected (as it is above), some adjustments can
now be done.
The most dramatic changes will occur when the Hue Slider is moved left
and right from its normal position of 0.
In the example, the hue has been lowered to -61 with the
following results ...
And here they are side by side for comparison ...
(One Hue And Saturation Layer)
Layer Adjusted (Second Hue and
There is not a huge difference between the two pictures - the greens
are a bit lighter as is the foreground.
More, however, can be done with the second Hue and Saturation Layer -
so let's take it to the next step ...
The Next Step
Initially, the second Hue of the second Hue and Saturation layer was
adjusted with Master selected
in the drop down list at the top of the adjustment palette - this is
the default setting.
If you click on Master drop down list then you'll find a whole bunch of
different colors that can be modified individually - and that makes a
For instance if you select the reds and then move the Hue slider around
then the effect will only apply to the red values and so on through the
six different choices available.
This give you an amazing amount of control!
Here's the image with adjustments made on each of Red, Yellow, Green,
Cyan, Blue and Magenta in turn ...
When the three images are compared I prefer the last one -
the one that had each of the individual colors adjusted. The
changes are subtle but there definitely are differences.
Try this one for yourself.
Another thing to consider - moving the range of the Hue and Saturation
When the Hue and Saturation Adjustment layer is selected and your
working on an individual color in the Adjustment Panel this is visible
at the bottom of the panel ...
This is also a great adjustment when
working with the individual colors. Once again this is something
that you need to mess about with on your own to get a sense of how
useful and how powerful these sliders can be.
You can go to the Adobe Photoshop Elements Help file - but - here's the
information you need to understand what the sliders actually do.
A - Adjusts color fall-off without affecting the range.
B - Adjusts the range without affecting color fall off.
C - Adjusts the range of color component.
D - Moves the whole slider.
To use the sliders simply select one of the colors from the drop down
list and then start moving the sliders around.
You can grab the whole slider (at point D) and drag the slider left or
You can change the two fall offs ...
You can adjust the range of the color component, making it either
thinner or wider ...
As you can see, the range of adjustments available are enormous and
will become more and more apparent as you mess with the adjustments.
Taking It Further
Generally speaking you'll be creating an elements greyscale from an
unaltered color shot from your digital camera.
"What would happen", you may be asking, ''if I make some
to the color picture before doing the conversion?''
Well - here's a sample
This is the normal image from the camera with no adjustments.
The elements greyscale conversion from the normal image.
Through Elements Raw
The image was first taken through the Adobe Camera Raw program in
Elements 9 and most of the adjustments were bumped up to or close to
their maximum setting. The image is far too saturated to stand
alone as a color shot and the noise was not eliminated in Adobe Camera
Elements Greyscale Conversion
Messing about with the different colored sliders on the Filter layer
has created a dramatic greyscale image. Leaving the noise
un-modified has give the image a grungy appearance.
This was done using the elements greyscale conversion after going
through Adobe Camera Raw. The difference is that the noise
sliders were pushed to the maximum which has eliminated that grungy,
For sure the last two conversions are much more dramatic after they
were pushed to their maximum in the Adobe Camera Raw part of Elements 9.
Both of these files started out as .jpg files so a special menu had to
be used to load the .jpg file into Raw - to do this go to File > Open As ...
Navigate to the folder with the image you want to convert and drop down
the list (outlined in Red) and choose Camera Raw.
Select the image and click OK and it will load into Adobe Camera Raw -
now you can over adjust the image for a dramatic look with your
elements greyscale conversion.
There you go - a look at an interesting and useful method of converting
color to black and white in Elements.