HOW TO DO A BLACK & WHITE GRADIENT MAP CONVERSION
This week just another simple technique learned mainly from Blake Rudis on how to create a pretty nice quick black and white image. The rather low key above image is of the Royal Horseguards Hotel, also known as Whitehall, in London taken from the London Eye. I think it has a bit of a Halloween feel to it. It is a good example of using the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer to convert to a black and white photo.
I am sure most of you have heard that a black and white Gradient Map will create a pretty nice black and white image without doing much else. This effect can be improved by using a couple little tricks. Blake Rudis presented the following technique in a recent Creative Live presentation called Post-Processing Workflow for Portraits and Landscapes. To get a good black and white conversion, a good color image is first needed so this is the first step for getting a good result. To create a black and white image, first set set swatches to the default settings of black for foreground and white for background – then clicking on the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer. Often a very nice black and white image usually occurs and many people just use this. For this image, a really almost black blue tone was used instead of the black color by editing the Gradient in the Gradient Editor (click on strip to get editor). Blake’s tip is to add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer underneath the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer. By adjusting the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders, a better range of tones can be achieved. By clicking in the image using the Targeted Adjustment Tool in the upper left of panel, individual colors can be adjusted without changing the sliders manually. The bottom strips under the sliders are color range limiting bars (drag the outer triangles together or stretch them apart) and can be adjusted to get some more variation in tonal range. He also suggested trying a Selective Color Adjustment Layer or Black and White Adjustment Layer instead of the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. I found this whole concept to be very flexible and it makes the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer a much better tool for converting to black and white. The image above got the amazing detail by using Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio with the Detail plug-in. Then the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer was used for the black and white conversion, and finally a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added underneath to get the great contrast. If the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer is turned off, a really weird colorized image appears. It is amazing that this works! The last step was adding a slight color effect using the Camera Raw filter’s Split Toning settings of Highlights 194, Saturation 15, Balance -10, Shadows Hue 234, and Saturation 17 – the layer opacity was changed to 62% for the cooler tint.
The above is one of my tiger images taken at the Jacksonville Zoo a while back. First added one of my colorful painted textures placed above the tiger layer and in a mask, the tiger was painted back. After a little clean up, a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer was added on top and a Black and White Adjustment layer was placed underneath it. The Blue Filter was selected in the Preset drop-down to bring out more detail in the tiger. The sliders were adjusted to get just the right contrast. Then several Curves Adjustment Layers were used to target different parts of the image to get the correct effect. Most of the time the last step in black and white images should be adding the tint. The tiger image used a nice subtle warm tint provided by Glyn Dewis for his lion image from a really good video called Take a Picture from Good to Great in 5 Steps. It was set up in Camera Raw as a Split Toning preset: Highlights Hue 23/Saturation 6 and Shadow Hue 41 and Saturation 6. In this case the last step involved adding a slight vignette to the image. (See my Yet Another Great Way to Create a Vignette! blog.)
Well that is it for this week. Enjoy this beautiful fall weather we are having!…..Digital Lady Syd