Photoshop makes it easy to convert your color photos to black & white, but typically you will also need to make some other adjustments in order to get your black & whites just how you want them. In this tutorial we’ll show how you can create a black & white conversion that has sort of a vintage or film-inspired effect.
The steps that are shown in this tutorial are the same steps used in our Faded B&W Film action that is included in our set of 24 Vintage Black & White Photoshop Actions. You can follow along with the steps shown here, or simply use the action if you want to save some time.
Here is the before version of the photo that we’ll be working with for the tutorial:
And here is how it will look after the effect:
The first step is to add a gradient map adjustment layer, which will handle the black & white conversion. Select the black to white gradient and leave the blend mode set to “normal” and leave the opacity at 100%.
Next, add a curves adjustment layer and create a tone curve like the one shown below, which mostly impacts the ends of the tone curve for the light and dark areas of the photo.
Now we want to add another curves adjustment layer and apply the curve shown below. Lift up the middle area of the curve, which will lighten the mid tones of the photo to achieve the faded look.
The next step is to add a levels adjustment layer and edit the settings as shown below. You’ll be changing the midtone input to 0.90 and the highlight output to 245. This will slightly darken the midtones and highlights.
Next, add a brightness/contrast adjustment layer. Add some brightness by setting it to 15 and reduce the contrast to -35.
Now our photo looks like this:
Our set of Vintage Black & White Photoshop Actions also includes several different actions for adding grain and vignettes if you’d like to take it a step further to get the vintage film look.