While designing art assets in Photoshop, I've always tried to use the Grayscale method for checking the contrast levels. Unfortunately, different articles/sources recommend different methods of desaturating an image, and they all produce vastly different results:

A) Create new layer, fill in #000000 Black, set blending mode to saturation

B) Hue/saturation adjustment layer, saturation slider down

C) Vibrancy adjustment layer, saturation slider down

D) Switching to a Black and white gamut proof

E) Black and white adjustment layer

Which one do you use (if any) when designing your artwork, and does anyone happen to know which method produces the most accurate result for checking contrast? Cheers!


2 Answers 2


F) Channel Mixer adjustment layer or adjustment (either one depending on level of destructiveness desired) Tick the Monochrome option -- Allows complete control in my opinion.

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Whatever the default state of the adjustment is, that is what simply switching to greyscale would produce. With the Channel Mixer you can tweak the channels to see where you need to boost or retract in order to increase overall image contrast. I.E., more red, less blue improves contrast. Just watch that Total percentage. You want to keep that at 100% or less. If you see a little warning triangle there, you need to adjust so that the levels equal 100%.

If your desire is to actually convert the image to greyscale, then you can use the Contrast slider in the adjustment. Otherwise, don't mess with that slider if you just want to check what needs to be done to improve overall contrast.

As far as "checking contrast", I'm not sure what you mean. I'm unaware of any Photoshop feature to verify contrast levels. I mean, you can use the histogram but I don't think there's anything that will definitively tell you the contrast levels as they relate to one another beyond the histogram.

  • Thanks Scott! Ahh maybe it's not as popular a method as I thought... I understand the idea is to switch the image to grayscale (putting things in a different perspective) which lets you view the contrast between elements without having to worry about colour. So if there are any problems with the contrast of the image, you can inspect the values in Grayscale, and make the necessary adjustments before switching back to colour. I hope this makes sense.
    – MetalEdd
    Dec 27, 2014 at 18:06
  • It makes perfect sense. However the actual artwork or image and it's desired end use would play a huge role in whether contrast is even a concern.
    – Scott
    Dec 27, 2014 at 18:07
  • If, for example, you have solid colors and you know the colors for something like a UI design. You can check contrast as sites such as leaverou.github.io/contrast-ratio/#%23eeeeee-on-%23888
    – Scott
    Dec 27, 2014 at 18:10
  • In this case I'm trying to create an interface for a game. I need to create a visual hierarchy so the eye is drawn to certain elements before others, and so that foreground elements (buttons etc) stand out more than the actual game content.
    – MetalEdd
    Dec 27, 2014 at 18:10
  • Yeah I tried that... Problem was it didn't highlight the changes I needed to make, or help me decide how to go about changing them.
    – MetalEdd
    Dec 27, 2014 at 18:12

Alright, think I cracked it. By comparing the contrast ratios between each method with the 'vanilla' ratios, I found that the black and white proof (D) is the most accurate conversion there is.

Here are the stats

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