Blueprint: Photoshop Actions for Beautiful Black and White Images

Whether you prefer color photos or black and white imagery, there are times where you may want a classic black and white photo.  Most photographers shoot in color, but it can be as easy as a few clicks in Photoshop to get rich monochromatic images or more subtle film like black and white conversions.  Using this color photograph submitted by Spanki Mills Photography in Texas, I will show you a few options using the MCP Fusion Photoshop action set.

Here is the straight out of camera image of a baby girl:

color image of girl on the street

Next are three conversions to black and white.  I would love to hear in the comments which you prefer most and why. The step-by-step Blueprint showing exactly what actions were used and at what opacity is listed under each photo.


The 1st image is meant to give a look similar to black and white film.  Lower contrast, lighter tones, very classic.

black and white film


This next edit used a deeper conversion with more contrast, but grayer midtones.  This gives the photo a darker overall quality.

shades of gray black and white


The last photo edit has a warmer toned black and white feel by combining the higher contrast Timeless with the Toned Sunkissed action using Black and White Fusion Mix and Match.

sunkissed black and white image


After viewing, what are your thoughts?  Which black and white look speaks to you?  What is the most visually appealing?  Taste is subjective but it is always fun to hear opinions. Thanks for your thoughts.

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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  1. 1
    Christine says:

    I love the 3rd one. I usually gravitate to warmer tones. :)

  2. 2
    Kaitlan says:

    Beautiful shot and beautiful edits. I love the 1st one the most. There is something about that film look that always draws me in!

  3. 3
    Spanki Mills says:

    I LOVE the second… I think it has the most contrast and you know me and contrast! Great job Jodi I love them all!

  4. 4
    Kelli says:

    I like the second one. I really like the higher contrast black and white (maybe thats not the technical description, but thats what it looks like to me;)).

  5. 5
    Linz says:

    On this image I like the third one the best, but I also really like the second one. I think the third one looks a bit more vintage with the sunkissed action which seems to fit with the the photo better. I think if the baby was in a different location I might like the second one best. I love black & white photos & use many different looks depending on my mood and the photo.

  6. 6
    Emily Kelly says:

    I love the second one! The increased contrast won me over,

  7. 7
    Karen says:

    My favorite is the second one… I like the clarity that comes with the contrast and darker tones. That said, any of them are awesome photos!

  8. 8
    Gina Miller says:

    I like #2 first then #3. I like the pop the second one gives off but I do like more of what I would consider and “antique” look in the third photo as well. :)

  9. 9
    Carrie G. says:

    All three are beautiful! My favorite is # 3 b/c of the warmer tone but I also like the richer look in # 2. Very nice!!

  10. 10
    Lynn Nolan Molanders says:

    I like them all, but if I have to choose it would be the second one, then the 3rd, then the 1st. I really like the old fashioned file look, but the 2nd one has that portrait feel to it..classy, rich… I can picture it framed, classic black frame with white matte border.

  11. 11
    Cindy says:

    I like all 3! But my favorite was the darker
    , richer one in the middle. It pops more.

  12. 12
    julie says:

    I like the darker one the best (number 2) but I tend to like my photos darker than most these days. I love the contrast in #2. Number one leaves me feeling washed out.
    So there’s my 2 cents.

  13. 13
    Ryan Jaime says:

    I prefer the second one. Looks like the majority prefer #2.

  14. 14
    Terri says:

    I like number 2…My question to you is, how do you choose which actions to use together? Will you share your methods of madness with us? Is it trial and error? Do you just pick a favorite shot out of your shoot and then play with it? I’m finding it takes so much time and lots of times I lose track of what I’ve tried and what I haven’t, and what combos I liked together. And yes I’m pretty new at this, but love your combo’s you put together.

  15. 15
    Beth Cubbage says:

    I like all three in a different way, but to pick a favorite, I would choose #2. There is something about the deeper contrast of the surroundings to the light skin and white shirt of the little one that draws my eye right to her.

  16. 16
    Stacey says:

    I love the second one, just enough contrast, but not too much :)

  17. 17
    Lene says:

    #2. I love the first one, but the darker tones of 2 conveys a different mood.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Chris says:

    I love the second one!

    What are the curve settings (and other settings) to achieve this?


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