There are many ways to make an image black and white in photoshop. The most advanced way, but more complex & time-consuming, is using multiple adjustment layers. This allows for fine-tuning of each individual element in the photograph to get a perfect outcome. You can find a tutorial on this, going in-depth here.

However, sometimes you need an instant simple black and white solution. That’s where the second option comes into play. This option is somewhat restrictive but very quick, simple, and effective. This technique is what we are covering in this tutorial.

Open image in Photoshop

Start by opening the image you wish to edit into Photoshop.

How to Quickly Make an Image Black and White in Photoshop
Photography by dreamypixel The image used for this tutorial can be downloaded here

Black and White Adjustment Layer

We will be using the Photoshop black and white preset to create the effect. As with many things with Photoshop, there are several ways to do this. As we want to work in a non-destructive manner that allows us to go back if we were to make a mistake. We will be using an adjustment layer.

There are many benefits of working with adjustment layers, a few of which are:

  • Edits are made on individual layers that can be further fine-tuned at any point.
  • Above all benefits, edits to your image don’t affect the actual image layer. Meaning edits are non-destructive to the original image.
  • Using adjustment layers keeps the project easier to manage.

Create a Black & White adjustment layer by clicking on the adjustment layer icon at the bottom right corner of your screen. (Half black half white circle) and select Black & White.

How to Quickly Make an Image Black and White in Photoshop

Select the best-preset options

The preset option is set to ‘default’ which will be a basic black and white effect. You may be happy with the default black and white effect if so, you’re done!

You can click through each preset option by clicking on the dropdown menu, to see which option works best for your photo.

However, the presets tend to be pretty limiting. Instead, click on the ‘Drag in image’ icon which looks like a hand pointing finger in-between two arrows.

How to Quickly Make an Image Black and White in Photoshop

You will notice your mouse cursor will become an eyedropper icon when you hover over the image.

How to Quickly Make an Image Black and White in Photoshop

Clicking on an element in your image will change the mouse cursor from the eyedropper icon to the drag-in image icon.

How to Quickly Make an Image Black and White in Photoshop

Click and hold on to an element in your photograph that you wish to either darken or lighten. Drag left (darken) or right (lighten).

As a result, Photoshop takes a reference of where was clicked and darkens or lightens all the similar elements in the photo.

In our case, we click and hold on the clouds, drag to the right to brighten the clouds. We also click and hold on the field, drag to the left to darken. This creates a nice contrast between the sky and the field in our image.

You’ve just made your image black and white

How to Quickly Make an Image Black and White in Photoshop

Congratulations, you made it to the end of the tutorial. More importantly, you know how to make an image Black and White quickly with Photoshop, great job!

Take the skills you just learned further. The advanced version of this tutorial is highly recommended.

Alternatively, now that your image is black and white; you may be interested in learning how to make your image have a Sepia effect in one simple step. (Half the work is in making the image black and white). You can find the Sepia tutorial here. 

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