Although PSE comes to us with a special command for converting color pictures to B&W (Enhance > Convert to Black and White), this tool is a substantially simplified substitute for its Photoshop analogue. And what's even worse, it can only adjust the current layer and not the composite image underneath.
The "Black and White" command lets you apply the Photoshop version of the tool as a separate adjustment layer.
- Open a color image.
- Run the "Color and Tone" script and apply the "Black and White" command. Then in "New Layer" box, click "OK" to proceed to the "B&W" tool.
- In the "Black and White" dialog that opens, you can redistribute luminance by specifying how the original colors influence the resulting monochrome image. For example, by reducing the percentage of "Yellows" you make a (formerly) yellow color range darker. On the contrary, by increasing the amount of a color you lighten the corresponding areas.
- If you wish to tinge the made black & white picture, check the "Tint" gadget (screenshot). By default, the dialog offers a kind of "sepia" effect. However, you may change the image hue and / or saturation as needed.
- When ready, click "OK" to apply the effect. The adjustment appears in the Layers palette as a separate layer.
- And what does this adjustment layer give? At any time you can hide / show a B&W effect by toggling the layer visibility or fine-tune its strength by reducing the layer opacity.
- By default, all created adjustment layers have a layer mask. So, if you want to restore color in a certain spot of your B&W image, just paint over the mask with black color or select and fill the required area.
Keep in mind, though, that Photoshop Elements won't let you adjust the "Black & White" layer's settings afterwards, so be sure to do it right the first time.