How to Change a Photo From Color to Black and White: A GIMP Tutorial

Change a color photo into black-and-white image.   Leah Lefler 2011
Change a color photo into black-and-white image. Leah Lefler 2011

Shades of Gray

Professional photographers closely guard their secrets for creating black-and-white images in photo editors. The specific color mixing method lends a "feel" to photos: from sharp, bold images to a gritty, urban feel.

Changing a color photograph to a black and white image can be a simple task or a complicated ordeal, depending on the desaturation method. Three easy methods for creating a black and white image in GIMP are outlined below.

Image using the image: grayscale method in GIMP.  Leah Lefler, 2011
Image using the image: grayscale method in GIMP. Leah Lefler, 2011

Method 1: Using the Grayscale Method

The simplest method of creating a black and white image with GIMP is as follows:

  1. Select a Photo. Go to FILE and OPEN the image.
  2. Go to IMAGE and select MODE and GRAYSCALE.
  3. The image will change to a black-and-white photograph.
  4. Go to FILE and select SAVE AS. Save the image with an identifying name.

This option is very simple, but offers the least amount of user control over the process.

 Leah Lefler, 2011
Leah Lefler, 2011

Method 2: Using the Desaturation Method

Another very simple method for creating a black and white photo in GIMP is using the Colors tab to desaturate the image. This method offers slightly more control than the Grayscale method, as the user may select the specific method for desaturation: based on lightness, luminosity, or an average of both.

  1. Select a photo. Go to FILE and OPEN the image.
  2. Go to COLORS and select DESATURATE. Choose LIGHTNESS, LUMINOSITY, or AVERAGE as the method, depending on the look you want to achieve.
  3. The image will change to a black-and-white photo.
  4. Click on FILE and choose SAVE AS. Save the file with an identifying name.

This method gives the photo a nice look, with a degree of user control over the final look.

Using the color mixer option to create a black and white photo.   Leah Lefler, 2011
Using the color mixer option to create a black and white photo. Leah Lefler, 2011

Method 3: Using the Channel Mixing Method

This method is a little more complicated, but produces a unique black and white image, with complete user control over the look.

  1. Select a photo. Go to FILE and OPEN the image.
  2. Go to COLORS and select COMPONENTS, then CHANNEL MIXER.
  3. In the channel mixer window, select "MONOCHROME." The image will appear in black-and-white.
  4. Adjust the color-sliding bars to give the photo a unique look.
  5. If you would like to preserve the overall brightness levels of the photograph, check the "PRESERVE LUMINOSITY" box in the channel mixer window.
  6. When the photo has the desired look, click "OK."
  7. Click on FILE and select SAVE AS. Save the file with an identifying name.

While a simple method, this option gives the user the most control over the final look of the photo.

More by this Author


Comments

No comments yet.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working