9 Black & White Tutorials from PicMonkey

Nothing’s as simple as black and white, not even black and white. PicMonkey has over nine unique ways to get the timeless, dramatic, beautiful black and white look. In this series, we’re profiling each of our black and white effects, with 30-second video tutorials on where you can find them, what they’re doing, and how to get the best look. Let’s start with the obvious.

The obvious: open up the Editor to try these for yourself!

Black and White

Black and White turns your image… well, you know. But what you maybe didn’t know is that it also mimics a photographer’s color filter. See that color picker in the effects panel? That’s your filter! Pick blue and PicMonkey will filter out anything that isn’t blue. In film photography, a blue filter will physically obstruct non-blue light from the film, effectively darkening your yellows and reds. In PicMonkey, our algorithms do the same.


We analyzed daguerreotypes in the National Archive to create our Daguerreotype effect, which mimics the look of three different daguerreotype styles: Brady, Shiro, and Plumbe (named after daguerreotype pioneers Mathew Brady, Ichiki Shiro, and John Plumbe). Brady’s the black-and-whitest, automatically increasing contrast, exposure, and giving your image a classic look. If you who wanna take your photos back in time, that’s where Shiro and Plumbe come in.


What’s great about Warhol is that it comes with the Brightness and Contrast bars right there. They’re like the Alpha and Omega of black and white settings, ready to range from dramatic noir to vintage fade, and everything in between. So, after you pick black and white as your two colors, go ahead and play with those sliders to get your perfect look.


Sepia’s best known as The Effect That Makes Pictures Look Really Old (for more on that, read up on the history and science behind sepia toning), but the Sepia effect that we assembled has way more applications. In the interest of your photo goodness, we’ve isolated the best sepia tones in the color picker. You don’t even have to worry about picking a color that doesn’t look super-duper.


The Infrared effect mimics near-infrared film photography,* which blocks visible light and lets in infrared light. Just like film photography, our Infrared effect makes greens brighter, while reds and blues go dark. The result is a completely unique black and white effect that gives foliage and landscapes a cool, otherworldly look.


Okay, we know what you’re thinking: but Tint’s not black and white! First, lower your voice or you’ll wake the blog pixies (they sleep in the margins). Second, Tint is a monochromatic maven and thus totally counts as black and white, whether you want screamin’ shades of yellow or just a hint of green. We’ve also found that Tint is perfect for color correcting photos from multiple sources, or vintage photos that have developed their own weird tone.


Down in the Camera Look effects group you’ll find Film Stock. Like all Film Stock effects, Tri-X mimics a popular type of film. In this case it’s Kodak’s Tri-X film, the best-selling black and white photographic film in the world. Tri-X film defined the intense and evocative photojournalistic aesthetic. Now it’s yours, only a click away.


When you want a vintage look that doesn’t make your picture look a hundred years old, Newspaper’s your go-to effect. It’s perfect for that retro realness you may remember from yearbooks, school papers, and all the best parts of yesteryear. It was tough to pack all that nostalgia into one click, but we did it.

Focal B&W

If these impressive effects have you all like “Whoa whoa whoa, PicMonkey! I don’t want my whole picture to be black and white!” then don’t worry. Focal B&W gives you a majestic, circular beacon of color, adjustable to any size and softness you’d like.

Don’t forget to try these in the editor.

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This article was written by PicMonkey Staff, a multicellular organism of hive-minded sub-parts who just wanna get you the ideas and information you crave, so you can make powerful images that level up your business.