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Photoshop Monochrome Conversion Actions

Photoshop offers the ability to record a series of regularly used image manipulations as an action file. These actions can be replayed on any image and allow processing steps to be applied consistently and without having to remember complex multiple stage operations.

I've developed a number of Photoshop actions for conversion of colour images to black and white. You can click on the links below to download these actions to try out on your own images. 


Monochrome Conversions

As discussed in Colour and Monochrome there are many ways of converting a colour digital image to black and white. In the past I have routinely used a Channel Mixer adjustment layer over an image to convert colour to monochrome. The result of such a conversion is shown in the middle image below. This process has the advantage of being simple to implement and is reasonably intuitive to use through moving the sliders in the Channel Mixer dialog box. Also since the conversion is done in an adjustment layer, the conversion can be modified at any time provided the image is saved without flattening the layers.


Original Channel Mixer Mono Film/Filter Adjustment

A more complex, but more powerful method of monochrome conversion uses two Hue/Saturation adjustment layers over the colour image, with the two layers mimicking the film and filter used in conventional black and white film photography. This method allows more variation over how different colours are represented as monochrome tones and is very good at producing dramatic dark skies while retaining detail in grass and foliage. Again, the conversion method uses adjustment layers so no permanent changes are made to the underlying image. I use this method quite a lot now and have recorded a Photoshop Action to do the basic work of the conversion process.

To download Photoshop actions for these two conversion methods click the icon below. Save the file to your desktop, and then launch Photoshop, open the Actions palette and load the actions. You can then play the actions on your own images. Both actions show an instruction box when complete to allow you to change the default settings to fine tune the results. See the comments on the technical intro page if you are using a Mac.

Monochrome conversions (1KB)