• Wes Odell

Easy But Sophisticated Method to Convert To B&W in PS Elements

In the days before Photoshop Elements, most people who were photo editors used Photoshop, with the first really good version being PS 6. It had a couple very useful filters that didn’t make the cut when Adobe created PS Elements. They are Channel Mixer and Selective Color. The Channel Mixer Filter Method was the “go to” tool for converting color to B&W in PS until others such as NIK Silver Efex came along.

Then, Scott Kelby described in one of his books a simple method in Elements that closely approximates the Channel Mixer Method that is described below.


1. Make the adjustments in the color version of your digital image much as you would absent the B&W conversion. If there’s “noise” in your image, now is the time to correct that. Then Flatten and do a SaveAs.

2. With the Hue and Saturation Filter, slide the Saturation slider all the way to the left. (Normally and singularly, not a good step.)

3. Open the Levels Filter. In the window on the Levels Adjustment Layer dialog box, find the word “Channel” which is the name for an adjacent window that should now be filled with the letters “RGB.” Click on it and the words Red, Green, Blue will appear in a list.

4. Select the first one, Red. Move the white and black sliders on the Levels Histogram toward the center until they each barely touch the graph of the Histogram.

5. Select the second one, Green, and repeat.

6. Select the third one, Blue, and repeat.

7. Then Select Red and adjust the Mid-tone slider to where you like it.

8. Then Select Green and repeat.

9. Then Select Blue and repeat.

10. Then, in order to fine tune the conversion, repeat the last three steps again or until you’re satisfied with the B&W result.

11. Then Open the Brightness/Contrast Filter and make adjustments to your taste, remembering that three important factors in a B&W image are Contrast, Contrast, and Contrast.

12. Flatten and do a SaveAs with the words B&W …..and….. Flat

13. That’s all there is to it: “Photoshop’s’ Channel Mixer in an Elements package.” Fast.

14. Further work may be necessary as with all images to do fine tuning before printing, such as Click on the Enhance Drop-down menu at the top of your PS Elements page. Go through Haze Removal, Shake Reduction, and Sharpening, or just those that your image requires……or perhaps you already did these steps when your image was a color image.

15. Then on to your “Final Routines” such as borders, strokes, sizing, etc., doing several SaveAs’s as you go along.

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