Easy ways to amaz­ing mono

Dis­cover how to cre­ate su­perb, high-qual­ity black and white con­ver­sions us­ing the FREE Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in from Google


Dis­cover how to pro­duce high-qual­ity black and white con­ver­sions with Silver Efex Pro 2.

Soft­ware Pho­to­shop or El­e­ments, plus the Gooogle Nik Col­lec­tion free down­load Im­age type An ar­chi­tec­tural or still-life shot with plenty of tex­ture and de­tail

The Nik Col­lec­tion from Google is a suite of pro-qual­ity ef­fects for Pho­to­shop, El­e­ments and Light­room. The full pack­age of of seven plug-ins used to cost $500 but, back in March 2016, the tech­nol­ogy gi­ant de­cided to make it free to down­load from www.google.com/nikcol­lec­tion

Silver Efex Pro 2 is the black and white op­tion in the suite and has long been used by en­thu­si­asts and pro­fes­sion­als to cre­ate fantastic-look­ing mono pics with a nod to the film stocks and dark­room tech­niques of yes­ter­year. Once down­loaded and in­stalled, it ap­pears at the bot­tom of the Fil­ter menu in Pho­to­shop or El­e­ments, and click­ing on it launches the plug-in’s in­ter­face.

In this tu­to­rial, we look at the ba­sic work­flow of Silver Efex Pro 2, and re­veal how to cre­ate and con­trol a great-look­ing mono ef­fect. The fin­ish will em­u­late the grain struc­ture of fast film and we’ll add a sub­tle border to give an au­then­tic fine-art feel.

1 Pick an ex­ist­ing Pre­set from the Li­brary Open your colour im­age into Pho­to­shop or El­e­ments, and when it’s on screen, go to Fil­ter ’nik Col­lec­tion ’silver Efex Pro 2. The im­age will ap­pear in the plugin’s in­ter­face. On the left is the Pre­set Li­brary, with 38 op­tions. Se­lect All at the top and click on the Pre­set or use the cur­sor keys to scroll through, un­til you find the gen­eral kind of look you want for your im­age. It doesn’t have to be ex­actly right, as you can fine-tune the ef­fect. For the ex­am­ple im­age, we picked the 032 Film Noir 3 Pre­set. You’ll see a pre­view of the ef­fect in the main win­dow in the mid­dle of the screen.

2 Make your ad­just­ments At the bot­tom-right of the in­ter­face, se­lect in the Loupe & His­togram panel, and scroll around to get a de­tailed view of the scene. At the top-right, click the ar­row next to Global Ad­just­ments to show Bright­ness, Con­trast and Struc­ture. These op­tions can be fur­ther ex­panded with the ar­row along­side, and you can fine-tune the set­tings to get the ef­fect you want. To make a change to a small part of the scene, ex­pand Se­lec­tive Ad­just­ments, click the Con­trol Points icon, and then click on the pic. Move the slid­ers on the float­ing menu to make your changes. To du­pli­cate a Con­trol Point, hold Alt and drag the icon to an­other area.

3 Set the film type and fin­ish off

In the Film Types panel, click the drop­down box to choose from dif­fer­ent film stocks. If you wish, ad­just the film’s char­ac­ter by ex­pand­ing the menus be­neath. With this done, ex­pand the Fin­ish­ing Ad­just­ments panel, and you can add colour ton­ing, darken the edges with Vi­gnette or Burn Edges, and choose from 14 dif­fer­ent types of Im­age Bor­ders. In each case, you can fine-tune the set­tings slid­ers. Once you’ve got a great look­ing im­age, click

OK, and the ef­fect will be pro­cessed. It’ll ap­pear on a sep­a­rate Layer in Pho­to­shop, so you can quickly com­pare it to your orig­i­nal pic.

Be­fore Taken in the Chap­ter House of Wells Cathe­dral in Som­er­set, the oblique an­gle and de­tailed stonework lends it­self well to an arty mono treat­ment.

Af­ter The con­trast and grain struc­ture of fast mono film gives a sat­is­fy­ing, fine-art fin­ish.

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