Converting A Grayscale Image To Black On Transparent
By Neil Blevins
Created On: Apr 4th 2009
Updated On: Nov 21st 2013

Go here to read this tutorial in Russian.

Sometimes when painting textures in Photoshop, you'll have a Grayscale image that instead of black on white, you want it to be black pixels on a transparent background.

Here's two techniques for doing this...

Channels Technique

1) Here's your Grayscale Image...



2) Switch To The Channels Window



3) In a grayscale image, each channel, R G and B should be identical. So hold the Ctrl Key, and click on the red channel. You should see a selection in your main window appear.



Note: You can avoid steps 2 and 3 if you just hit Ctrl+Alt+1, which is the keyboard shortcut to select the Red Channel in CS3 and below, or Ctrl+Alt+3 for CS6.

4) Invert Your Selection (shift+ctrl+i)



5) Go to the Layers Palette, create a new Layer.



6) Select the Color Black.



7) Choose Edit, Fill and OK (alt+backspace). Hide the original layer.



8) You now have black on a transparent background.



Quick Mask Method

This technique was suggested by hamish911.

1) Here's your image...



2) Select your image and copy it (ctrl+a, ctrl+c)
3) Create a New Layer (shift+ctrl+n, enter)



4) Enter Quickmask Mode (q)
5) Paste the Layer into the quickmask (ctrl+v)



6) Exit Quickmask (q)
7) Invert Your Selection (shift+ctrl+i)



8) Select the Color Black.



9) Choose Edit, Fill and OK (alt+backspace). Hide the original layer.



10) You now have black on a transparent background.



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