How To Create Dramatic Black and White Photos Using Photoshop

You don’t have to be a master of Photoshop in order to edit your beautiful photos and make them look better. Let’s say you have some nice wedding photos you would like to edit, or a portrait photo, wouldn’t you want to know how to easily retouch them, in just a few steps, and make them look amazing?! Well, this article will teach you just that! 

Black and white photos are beautiful because they have a more artistic touch and look professional. Of course, there are many free tools you can use in order to make your photos black and white, and even digital cameras have this option. Also, a simple Desaturate action in Photoshop will do the trick, but do they turn out to be dramatic and eye-catching? Most of the time, no. 

In this easy to follow tutorial for beginner Photoshop users, I will teach you how simple it is to turn your photos into dramatic black and white images. The steps showed here are very easy to understand and you will be able to create even subtle, color tinted black and white photos with just one click! 

dog photo_before photo editing

For this black and white photo editing tutorial, I used a photo of a dog, taken by myself a few months ago. You can use any photo you want to edit, as these techniques can be applied on any kind of photo, whether it’s a portrait, object or even a landscape photo.  

1. Duplicate layer. 

2. Click on Images > Adjustments > Black and White. Make sure you check the Preview option. Now the photo should appear in black and white. You will also be able to see the changes you make in Live Mode. 

black and white adjustment layer

3. The photo is now simply desaturated. All you have to do is drag the color sliders and see what happens. You will be able to edit Reds, Yellows, Blues, Cyans, Greens and Magentas. Drag to left or right, in order to make them darker or lighter (left – lighter, right – darker). 

black and white edit

4. If you want to add a subtle tint to your photos, check the Tint option. Select the color you want to apply to your photo from the Hue slider. Make it stronger or subtle by dragging the Saturation slider. If you drag the Saturation slider to your left, the tint will be subtle and if you drag it more to the right, it will be enhanced. 

check tint option

5. There are also some presets you can choose from. If you don’t want to use the sliders and you like a preset from this list, choose one and apply it to your photo. Also, you can make your own presets by choosing the Custom option. 

preset black and white

6. Save photo and you’re done! 

Extra tips:

Use the Dodge and Burn tools. The Dodge tool can be used for making some areas lighter. Select it and use it just like you would use the Brush tool. I use it for enhancing eyes and make them pop out in black and white photos. You can see how beautiful the eyes look in the dog’s photo below. 

The Burn tool is the exact opposite. It will darken the areas on which it is used. I sometimes make the corners of a photo darker or if some elements or areas are too light, I use the Burn tool on them. 

Just in case you were wondering, the Sponge tool in the image below can be used for desaturating areas of an image. In this case our image is already desaturated, but in case you have a black and white tinted image, and if you want some areas to be black and white completely, you can use this sponge tool over them. 

dodge burn tools

dog photo_after editing 1

This is the simple, black and white photo with no tint. I used the Dodge tool to enhance the eyes and the Burn tool to darken the corners. 

dog photo_after editing blue tint

This is the black and white photo with a blue tint. 

dog photo_after editing sepia tint

For this one I added a subtle, sepia tint for a more vintage effect. You can add any colored filter you want. 

all photos dog

Here are all the final results, plus the original photo. You can achieve many great effects by using this simple technique!

~ Ruxandra Micu

3 thoughts on “How To Create Dramatic Black and White Photos Using Photoshop

  1. Thanks for a brief, simple yet effective tutorial, Ruxandra.
    Please include more of these in the WS newsletter!

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