{Before & After} How to Create a Black & White “Matte” Photo

October 4, 2012

in Before & After, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop

How to Create a Matte Black & White Photo {Photoshop Editing Tutorial}

For this week’s “Before & After” Photo Editing Tutorial, we are so happy to welcome Jackie Jean Photography as our featured photographer!  We always adore Jackie Jean’s entries in our photo challenges and are excited to show off her editing style in today’s tutorial.

This is a favorite shot of one of my boys shot on an extremely overcast day. I am a lover of black and white so wanted to show a few steps on how I achieve my black and white “matte” look. I would say that “Matte” processing gives a similar look to film. I spent so much time in the darkroom printing black and whites for years before deciding to go digital and then once I did go digital, I spent hours trying to replicate the “look” of film. While digital and film are still so different, I feel like this process; which is hazy, brings the two together a bit. I try to make it as subtle as possible without losing all the tonal ranges of a good black and white, though!

“Before” Photo

How to Create a Matte Black and White Photo  {Photoshop Tutorial}

Step One – Burn

Due to the overcast weather, the light was pretty flat, so I chose the burn tool in Photoshop and burned all around him except for the middle above him to create the appearance of light coming down on him. I always make sure the brushes (burn tool) are set to 0% hardness so the effect is less harsh.
How to Create a Matte Black & White Photo {Photoshop Tutorial}

Step Two – Gradient Map

I always separate my layers and mainly use Gradient Map when processing my black and whites. Go to Layer-> New Adjustment Layer-> Gradient Map. In order for the Gradient Map to work properly, the foreground is set to Black and the background is set to White. (Usually it does this automatically in PS)
How to Create a Matte Black & White Photo {Photoshop Tutorial}

Step Three – Curves

After I have selected the Gradient Map for converting, I add an adjustment layer of Curves to add more contrast to the image. Layer->New Adjustment Layer->Curves. I then raise the midpoint (in RGB) to brighten and create a second point on the lower left and bring down to add contrast. (s-curve)
How to Create a Matte Black & White Photo {Photoshop Tutorial}

Step Four – Selective Color

To finish off the black and white with a “matte” look, I choose Selective Color from the New Adjustment Layers.

  • First, I select Neutrals and then increase the Blacks (+10%).
  • Second, I select Blacks and decrease the Blacks (-16%).
  • Lastly, I select the Whites and decrease the Blacks (-20%) to keep contrast. Click “Ok” and then the image is done!

How to Create a Matte Black & White Effect - Photo Editing Before & After via I Heart Faces

“After” Photo

How to Create a Matte Black & White Photo {Photoshop Tutorial}


Jackie Jean Profile Pic Jackie Jean specializes in children and family portraiture in all natural light. She is a mom of four boys and lover of music and coffee!  Visit her blog or follow her on Facebook and Pinterest @JackiJean.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Catherine October 23, 2014

Thank you so much! I love this!


tom April 25, 2013

This is a beautiful technique- well done, but I must take exception to your use of the term “matte” to describe it!
The correct photographic term is vignette -if it surrounds your subject, or falloff if the
effect is off to one to three sides.
“Matte” is already used to describe the non-glossy finish of a surface
AND the paper border
surrounding a picture within a frame. Using your term will only confuse all the matte
painters in Hollywood- they also adopted that term a long time ago! ; )


justshoot March 19, 2013

Wow, love this and thanks for sharing


Glen February 19, 2013

Quick and Easy !!! Works with any photo good or bad lighting !!! THANKS !!


lose weight easy December 12, 2012

The same company has also created well known fat burners Capsiplex
and Meratol, though Nuratrim is a little bit different as it is an appetite suppressant.
Certainly it’s experienced by each with the customers, during the usage of meratol and that is why swift weight reduction is feasible. The manufacturer of this drug claims that it can cut down body weight without any effort on the part of the user.


Stephanie D October 28, 2012

I just found this post and I love it. I’d love if you could a color tutorial for matte finish. But for now this is what I created.


Jenn Sawtelle October 9, 2012

This is fabulous; love the effect! Thanks!


rachael ray raspberry ketone October 8, 2012

It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve learn
this post and if I may I wish to counsel you few
attention-grabbing issues or tips. Perhaps you could write next articles relating to this article.
I wish to learn more things approximately it!


yskan October 5, 2012

great techniques! Thanks for sharing


Declan Mc Glone October 5, 2012

{Before & After} How to Create a Black & White “Matte” Photo #photography http://t.co/BSR3BeUV


Grady Thompson October 5, 2012

Excellent technique of yours about how to create a black & white “Matte” photo. Also your instruction about create a black & white photo is so helpful to me because its importance. Thanks for your informative article.


Pablo Lara H October 4, 2012

{Before & After} How to Create a Matte Black & White Photo | @iheartfaces http://t.co/Z0Baajpr


Jenny October 4, 2012

very cool 😀


Joanne October 4, 2012

Thank you for the plain english explanation – I’m going to try it tonight.


Farrah Jobling October 4, 2012

Thanks so much! I noticed that the numbers in step 4 are inconsistent between your description and the text on the photo…perhaps double check them?


Dana Suggs October 4, 2012
Dana Suggs October 4, 2012


OK, I am trying RIGHT now.

No, very serious…..doing this right now. I seriously LOVE this


Leave a Comment

{ 6 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: