Create Beautiful Monochrome Images Quickly in Photoshop

Friend of the Fstoppers Dave Kai-Piper recently shared this great little tutorial showing you exactly how he creates his beautiful monochrome images in a clever little process that takes only a couple minutes.

For those of you who are a little short on time, Dave has allowed us to share the step-by-step rundown below:

Step 1:

Import your images into Lightroom, sort and add your keywords or mark as you normally do. Highlight using colour tabs or star ratings the images you wish to use.

Step 2:

Select > right click > edit in > Photoshop > ( you can choose the way Photoshop opens up the image. I like to choose ‘edit a copy with Lightroom Adjustments’. This is because I might of done some ‘global’ white balance adjustments to match other images in the set or other adjustments that I have batch processed. In the settings of LR you can choose what type of file you want to create with the new file when it loads into PS. I like to use 16bit Tiff files in Abode RGB.

Step 3:

Find the Gradient Map layer and click on it. You can find it a number of ways. I like to use the Layers Window often so I find it quick to click on it at the bottom. You can Press F7 to bring up the Layers Window. Click on the colour bar to bring up the options to let you pick the colours you want to use for your highlights and low lights. There is a pre-made B&W option. Click that and make sure you have the black on the Left and the White on the right.

Step 4:

Using the stamp and clone tools, go around the image to clean up sections and elements that you find are in the way or distracting from the image. I have used the Stamp tool and Clone tool for this image

Step 5:

Duplicate the background layer giving you access to the toggles on the image. Using the ctrl button, bring out the toggles to straighten up the image. (yes – this is one of many ways to do this, but this is just a real fast quick simple way) (hit V to get out of your tool to let you pick up the toggles)

Step 6:

Create some highlights extra tones by using the blending modes to give contrast changes. Create a new curve layer and boost up the levels in the shadows to you can see as much detail as you can. Invert the mask and select (B) the brush tool. Paint in using a very soft brush to start to bring out some more detail in the image.  This is very like the dodge tool but you are using it in a finer way to give more flexibility.

Step 7:

Repeat the process the other way round to darken down the image. Curves> invert the mask > Brush > paint in the darker tones.

Step 8:

Save out the image into Lightroom and crop in to where you want to crop. Once you have cropped, if you need to sharpen, now is a good time.

For more beautiful sample images and an extra bonus tip on processing with this method check out Dave's original post.

[Via Dave Kai-Piper @ Ideas and Images]

Tutorial and images used with permission.

Of course, as with all things Photoshop, there are a million different ways to end up the same place. What's your favorite B+W or monochrome processing technique?

Austin Rogers's picture

Austin Rogers joined Fstoppers in 2014. Austin is a Columbus, OH editorial and lifestyle photographer, menswear aficionado, pseudo-bohemian, and semi-luddite. To keep up with him be sure to check out his profile on Fstoppers, website, drop him a line on Facebook, or throw him a follow on his fledgling Instagram account.

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1 Comment

yeah, um, can you go ahead and change that headline to "in Lightroom" instead of "in Photoshop"?