There are so many ways to convert your color photo to black and white. But today, I’m going to show you a few of my favorite and easiest (in my opinion) ways to do a quick black and white conversion in Adobe Photoshop.

1. Desaturate

A quick way to desaturate the color in your photo is with the Desaturate command. You’ll find this by going up to the Image menu at the top of the screen, choosing Adjustments, and then choosing Desaturate:

(Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate)

The reason why this is the absolute fastest process for me in my editing is because of the keyboard shortcuts that are assigned to this function. Shift+Ctrl+U (Windows) / Shift+Command+U (Mac).

2. Grayscale Mode

Now this isn’t my favorite black and white look since the blacks and white take on too much of a gray tone. But it’s one of the fastest conversions. You may have to toggle the contrast later to your taste. To convert the image to Grayscale, simply change to Grayscale in color modes:

Image > Mode > Grayscale
There will be an extra step that asks if you want to discard the color files. Those files will indeed be lost from the photo so don’t get too attached.
Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 10.07.27 PM
Click Discard and you’ll find yourself a Grayscale converted image.

3. Black & White Adjustment Layer

This black and white option is a way to have a little more control over your black and white preference. Click on on the New Adjustment Layer. You can find this icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Click on Black & White:
Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 10.16.56 PM
Once you click on this layer adjustment, you’ll find the color properties that will allow you to toggle and adjust some of the color properties to your liking.
Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 10.18.15 PM

4. Gradient Map

This one has to be my favorite because of the richness of the blacks combined with the simplicity of the conversion. Click on New Adjustment Layer and choose Gradient Map from the list of options.
Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 10.36.18 PM

5. Hue/Saturation Layer

Click on New Adjustment Layer and choose Hue/Saturation from the list of options.

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 10.55.29 PM
From here, you will then see the image adjustment box. Move the Saturation all the way to the left to take away all color from the image.
Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 10.58.02 PM
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With each of these options, I made no other adjustments to the contrast or other techniques that would be essential to my taste. I wanted to show you what each of the conversions looked like, along with the ease of use, for you to choose for your next conversion. I encourage you to try all of them to see what is best for you.
If you have other black and white conversion tools that you like using, let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear your ideas of what is a conversion tool for your workflow.

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November 15, 2013

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