How to Create a Monochrome Colour Wash Image In Photoshop

How to Create a Monochrome Colour Wash Image In Photoshop

How to Create a Monochrome Colour Wash Image In Photoshop

Monochrome colour wash images, essentially a mono-coloured black and white shot,  have long been part of the repertoire of digital artists. Theyare now finding favour on Facebook, Instagram and on web pages.  I was recently asked online to explain how they are done, and it seemed sensible to write it up for general use by everyone. So, here we go…


  1. Load up Photoshop and drop the desired image onto the window. Any standard image format will do, but a high-resolution jpeg is ideal.

  1. To achieve the monochrome look you now need to remove all the colour from the image. We will add the chosen wash colour later but, for now, we need a black and white image.


  1. Go to the <Image> menu item on the bar across the top of the Photoshop screen, right click on it and navigate down through <Adjustments> to <Black and White>. Click on it to convert the image to grey scale.

  1. Your image is now shown on screen in shades of grey. If it looks just as you want it, move to the next step. However, if the shading isn’t ideal, you can adjust how each colour has been changed to a shade of grey. There’s a new window (that appeared when the image was converted to grey scale) showing coloured lines from red to magenta. Adjusting the colour lines changes how each colour is shown in grey. Play around until you are happy.

  1. Click on the <OK> button at the top right of the coloured line window to confirm that you are happy with the new black and white image.


  1. Go back to the top menu and right click on <Layer>. From the <Layer> menu work down through <New Fill Layer> to the <Solid Colour> option, and left click on it.

  1. A small colour picker (Solid Colour) window will have now opened. Here’s where you choose the colour you want for the wash. Drag your mouse around over the window until you have the right colour, then left-click the mouse.

  1. Confirm the colour choice by clicking the OK button.


  1. You now need to work with ‘Layers’ for a moment. Check the right-side of the screen for the Layers window. If it’s not open, click on the <Windows> option on the menu along the top of the Photoshop window, then scroll down and select <Layers> by left-clicking on it.

  1. In the <Layers> window you will see two layers; one is your image and the other is a solid rectangle of the wash colour you just selected.

  1. Click on the coloured rectangle to select it, and then drag it down to BELOW the layer containing the image.

  1. Select the image layer by left-clicking on it to highlight it.


  1. Look just above the two layers and find the menu item called ‘Normal’. Click on the drop-down menu option next to ‘Normal’ and select either <Overlay> or <Luminosity>. They are near the bottom of the list.

  1. Use the Opacity slider to vary the density of the colour wash that’s applied over the original image.


  1. When you are happy, go to the top menu once again, select the <Layers> option and scroll to the bottom of the options.


  1. Click on <Flatten Image>.

  1. Save the finished image.



That’s it- from full colour image to a bespoke monochrome image with a colour wash. With a slight variation you can try applying a colour wash over a colour image, or use a mask to protect parts of the image whilst applying the wash to the rest. Have fun!


NOTE: Step 15 gives the options of using <Overlay> or <Luminosity> because although they produce similar results, they are not identical. Its worth playing with both options to see what looks best.


St Paul’s Cathedral Whispering Gallery

St Paul’s Cathedral Whispering Gallery

The ‘Whispering Gallery’ set in the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is one of it’s principle tourist attractions. The accoustics are remarkable. Setting up in the gallery, early in the morning, and before the public arrived it felt like a vast space, with the onion-shape of the dome above giving glimpses of another balcony far over-head, and the jaw-dropping view to the cathedral floor way below.

Photography there is challenging; narrow walkways, high balconies for Health and Safety reasons, and huge variations in lighting as shafts of sunlight pierce the windows. A technical challenge to excite any photographer!

In the cathedral’s archives is an old black and white photograph of smartly dressed Londoners sitting in the Gallery, with their ears to the wall. It seemed like a lovely idea to re-create the image for modern times, with the assistance of some of the first tourists of the day.

Here it is  in full colour and then, down below,  in black and white, like the original.

and now in black and white, as in the original. I prefer the b/w rendering: There is more sense of mystery and atmosphere to it.

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

Recently I was commissioned to work on an advertising campaign for St Paul’s Cathedral, in London. Although it’s an important religious building, St Pauls is also a place where anyone can escape from the frenzied London atmosphere, find peace and quiet, buy a coffee, climb the dome for amazing views across London, or simply be a tourist and soak up the stunning architecture. It’s these many roles that the Cathedral wanted to highlight ,so the shoot promised to be varied, yet tightly targeted.

Here’s one that didn’t make it to the final selection process, simply because we don’t know who she is. When using images for advertising, you must have permission from anyone you in the image who could be identifiable… and for this shot I was too far away to attract her attention and talk to her.  Luckily, for editorial purposes, I can still use the shot here though 🙂

So here we are, a brightly dressed lady gazing up into St Paul’s famous dome, whilst standing in the dead centre of the compass set out on the floor.



The etched surface of a Swiss glacier. The sunshine reflecting off fresh snow gives it an orange hue, whilst old glacial ice is revealed in shades of blue. The incised lines are streams carved into the ice by flowing melt-water