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Calculate the best way to go from color to grayscale

Added on Friday 1st of July 2011 09:23 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

When you use the Grayscale command to remove color from an image, Photoshop calculates the conversion process for you. This may seem advantageous but the result is often an image that lacks contrast and detail. With the Calculations command, however, you have total control of the final outcome.


We’ll show you how using the Calculations command enables you to:

•  Enhance detail in the image by blending channels.

•  Improve image contrast by adjusting opacity.

•  Take control of the way you convert color images to grayscale.

The benefit of using the Calculations command for color conversion is apparent when compared to other techniques, such as Photoshop’s built-in Grayscale mode. As shown in Figure A, you can produce grayscale images with superior contrast and detail when you take control of the situation.


Architecture Focal Points
2000 PhotoSpin

Architecture Focal Points
2000 PhotoSpin


•  Art: Please label a1 “Original,” a2 “Grayscale,” and a3 “Calculated.”


Select your channels

Using the Calculations command for color conversion enables you to choose two channels in the source image and blend them together to enhance contrast. You can then save the resulting channel as a grayscale image in a new Photoshop document.

To begin, open an RGB image in Photoshop. To follow along with our example, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article and extract the file barn.jpg. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)


•  To determine which two channels you want to blend:

1.  Choose Window > Channels to display the Channels panel, shown in Figure B.

2.  Select the Red, Green, and Blue channels separately and determine which two have the most contrast.

Your image appears grayscale when you view its channels individually. This makes it easier to determine which channels have the most shadow and highlight contrast. As you can see Figure C, the Green and Blue channels have the most contrast in our image.





•  Art: Please label c1 “Red,” c2 “Green,” and c3 “Blue.”


Calculate your image...


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