The Wilde Olive Blog: Easy Black and White Conversion.


Easy Black and White Conversion.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

 A quick note before I get started: This photo isn't necessarily what I'd call an ideal photo for a black and white conversion, but I love it anyway! I usually prefer to have some texture or shadows in the background to give it some depth. 
Every editing program has capability to convert a photo to black and white, but each program is different in finding "the best" way to do it. For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using PicMonkey. It's free, online, and there's nothing to download - so basically everyone can use it. These steps are VERY basic so don't be intimidated and give it a try for yourself. This original (color) photo below was not edited in PicMonkey, but I am posting a Clean Editing Tutorial for Pic Monkey on PHC on Thursday if you'd like to check it out!

  1. Start with a Clean Edited Photo. It can even be a little stylized to your liking. One trick I've learn for Black and White conversions is to get the photo to a point where you like it in color before you try to convert. 
  2. Open your photo in PicMonkey.
  3. Choose the colors tab.
  4. (optional) Use your eye dropper and click on a neutral part of your photo to correct white balance.
  5. Drag your Saturation bar all the way to left (-100). Do not leave any color in your photo. 
  6. Click Apply
  7. Choose your Exposure tab.
  8. Increase your Contrast and Shadows a tiny bit. I'm talking like between 1 and 5. If the skin starts to look too gray back off just a little. 
  9. Open the Effects tab to the left. It's the that looks like a beaker for a science experiment.
  10. Scroll all the way down and choose your burn tool.
  11. Use this brush to create some depth. For this photo I brushed the existing shadows and the outline of his body, his hair, and his lashes. You'll have to play with your brush size and the intensity. 
That's It! I know it looks like a lot of steps, but really it's very quick and effective. 
 There is another optional Step 12. If you aren't happy with the look and the depth of the photo, you can try some other effects. I like "Gritty" but fade it almost 90%. It just darkens the darks. HDR and Daguerreotype would probably work as well. 

Here's my before and after:

Maybe you are wondering hy not use the Black and White Effect? It does the work for you, right? You can and it may turn out great, but I just want to show you the different going a few extra EASY steps made on this photo.

The left is the B&W Effect in Pic Monkey and the right is the tutorial from above. 
The left is very flat and his skin looks really gray and too matte. It just doesn't have the POP that it could!

I hope this was helpful to someone! Let me know what you think and if you have any questions!


Linking up with Touch Up Tuesday, Sweet Shot Tuesday, and Edit Me Challenge Summer Show Off


  1. This is a great tutorial. Thank you for posting! I used this to convert a picture I just took yesterday of my 10 month old to black and white and I'm really happy with the results. I posted it on my blog @ Thanks again!

  2. Fantastic tutorial! I love seeing how different photographers convert their black and white images. I personally LOVE the matte effect in black and whites. But a good, constrasty black and white is beautiful, too. :)

  3. Love that photo! Adorable. Beautiful b/w too!

  4. So adorable! Love that you are still rocking picmonkey ;)

  5. He's just too cute! Thanks for sharing the tutorial with the different photo looks.
    p.s. enjoying my new blog look - thanks again!

  6. Great tutorial; I love this conversion!

  7. Ah. I love PicMonkey!! And this photo is adorable!!


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