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.


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