I want to do some shading exercises and I have a 5 values scale from white to black with 3 shades of gray.

How can I convert a picture to have only 5 colors in photoshop?

I know how to convert it to gray scale but I don't know how to take it further to only 5 colors.


  • Many ways to do this, One way is to do a indexedcolr, another one is curves, a third one is gradient map save for web etc etc. What effect are you looking to achieve
    – joojaa
    Apr 22, 2018 at 21:22
  • 1
    Are you quite sure you mean five? You don’t mean perhaps… fifty shades of grey? Apr 22, 2018 at 22:32

1 Answer 1


There are many methods including using Image > Adjustments > Posterize, or alternatively Filters > Artistic > Cutout - then you could tweak it with a levels or curves adjustment layer to make the lightest colour white, and the darkest black.

For example:

enter image description here

Another method in which you can control all the colours exactly is to convert a greyscale image to Indexed color mode. Then simply create a custom colour table.

For example:

enter image description here

Another possibility is to create a gradient, and apply it as a gradient map adjustment layer.

For example:

enter image description here

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