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What I want is for the image to turn all grays into transparencies of black, which doesn't seem to work when I simply use "Colour Range" to remove white from image.

-Using Adobe Photoshop.

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    Put that image as a new layer, and change the opacity mode to multiply.
    – Rafael
    Oct 28 '15 at 5:03
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    @Rafael, I don't believe changing the blend mode to Multiply will do anything if there is no layer below to interact with. Am I misunderstanding it?
    – user45605
    Oct 28 '15 at 14:48
  • Oh True. That is an important factor. :o) Another methd is to use the image as alpha chanel or mask.
    – Rafael
    Oct 28 '15 at 19:37
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  1. If the image is in the form of a background layer, double-click on its icon so it becomes a layer.
  2. Then double click on its icon again to bring up the layer styles window and look for the "Blend If" sliders.
  3. Start moving the triangle next to "This Layer" towards left. You will see the white areas getting transparent. To get a smoother transition, hold the Alt key down and click and drag the half of the big triangle to the left a little more.

This method is totally non destructive and you can reset this back to what it was before.

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

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  • Glad to hear that @Tobi. If any answer solves your problem you may accept it to bring closure to it.
    – user45605
    Oct 28 '15 at 21:38
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You want to use the threshold filter I'd recommend applying it as a layer mask so that you can easily adjust it. You'll find it under the layer adjustments layer button in the layers palette: enter image description here

You can adjust the threshold (hence the name) at which grays become either black or white: enter image description here

You might also want to check out this link if you're looking to create those Shephard Fairey/stencil style effects.

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Another option is to simply copy the original image into a separate alpha channel and inverse. Make a selection of that newly created alpha channel, then fill with black on a new layer.

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Make a new layer. Flood fill with black. Attach a layer mask to the layer.

Select the greyscale layer to give it focus, then "Select All"

Switch to the channels palette, select the layer mask for the black layer, make it visible and then paste. This should paste the greyscale image into the layer mask of the black layer. Make the layer mask layer "not visible."

Switch back to the layers palette, hide the original greyscale image.

White will be opaque in the layer mask. Invert the colors of the mask if you want the blacks in the original greyscale to be opaque.

You can add a color-overlay layer style to alter the color of the black layer.

In the image below, "Layer 0" is the original greyscale; "layer 2" is the new black layer

enter image description here

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