Colorize versus Tint


Today’s Question: I’ve always used the Colorize checkbox for the Hue/Saturation adjustment in Photoshop to create a sepia tone image (or a monochrome image with a different color). But I now see that the Black & White adjustment includes a Tint checkbox that seems to produce the same result. Is there a reason to use one over the other?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In terms of the color effect, the result is the same with both of these adjustments. However, I recommend the Black & White adjustment rather than Hue/Saturation because with a Black & White adjustment you’re able to exercise greater control over the black and white interpretation of the photo.

More Detail: When you use the Colorize checkbox with the Hue/Saturation adjustment or the Tint checkbox with the Black & White adjustment, you’re simply adding a color tint to the photo. In both cases you are producing the effect of a black and white image, but where shades of a specific color are used instead of shades of gray.

In other words, there is no reason to choose one or the other of these adjustments in terms of the color effect, but there is still a big reason to favor the Black & White adjustment.

When you use the Hue/Saturation adjustment to apply the Colorize effect, you aren’t able to exercise control over the tonal interpretation of the image. With the Black & White adjustment you can change the luminance values within the image based on the original color values within the photo. This provides considerable control over how the image is interpreted.

So, I recommend using the Black & White adjustment to create a black and white interpretation of the photo, and then adding the Tint option. You can click the color swatch associated with the Tint checkbox to bring up the Color Picker dialog, where you can choose the specific color you want to use for the color tint for your monochrome image.