How to Make a Photo Suitable for Faxing

Before and after converting a photo to a black and white dot pattern for faxing.
Before and after converting a photo to a black and white dot pattern for faxing. © Copyright Don Moore

 If you're looking for software that he could use to convert photos into a black & white image suitable for faxing, similar to the stipple drawings, or hedcuts, used in The Wall Street Journal, this tutorial explains how to use Photoshop to achieve the black and white version of the headshot shown here. It's not as striking or detailed as the hand-drawn hedcuts used in the Wall Street Journal, but it should be better suited for a fax, compared to the original color photo.

Note that I didn't actually try faxing this image. You may need to experiment with different image sizes and print resolutions to find the best results for faxing.
01
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Select the Background

A selection of the background.

The first thing we want to do is simplify the image as much as possible. For this example, that meant filling the background of the headshot with white. I used the Select > Color Range to make a starting selection of the background, then cleaned up the selection in Quick Mask mode.​

02
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Simplify by Filling the Background with White

Fill the background with white using a new layer.
Fill the background with white using a new layer.

Once I had a good selection of the background, I created a new layer above the head shot and filled it with white using the Edit > Fill command.

03
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Convert to B&W Using Channel Mixer

Use channel mixer to convert to grayscale.

The next step is to convert the original color photo layer to grayscale. There are several ways to do this in Photoshop, but the Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer works well.

Click the color photo in the layer palette, add the channel mixer adjustment layer, check the "Monochrome" checkbox in the Channel Mixer dialog box, adjust the sliders for the best results, and click OK.

Note: If you only have Photoshop Elements, you can use a Hue/Saturation or Gradient Map adjustment layer to convert to grayscale. Both of these methods are described in my tutorial on Selective Colorization.
04
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Convert to Indexed Color with Dithering

Converting to Indexed Color Mode created the dot pattern.
Converting to Indexed Color Mode created the dot pattern.

With this simplified, grayscale version of the headshot, I can convert it to black and white using the Indexed color mode.

If you think you want to come back to an editable working copy of the grayscale version, save your file as a PSD now. Next, duplicate the image (Image > Duplicate) and flatten the layers (Layer > Flatten Image).

Go to Image > Mode > Indexed Color and adjust the settings as shown in my screenshot.

  • Palette: Uniform
  • Colors: 3
  • Transparency: Off
  • Dither: Diffusion
  • Amount: 75% (adjust for best results)
  • Preserve Exact Colors: Off

Play with the "Amount" setting for the best results. When you are happy with the black and white version, click OK.

Save the image as a TIFF, GIF or PNG file. Do not save as JPEG, because the dots will blur.

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Your Citation
Chastain, Sue. "How to Make a Photo Suitable for Faxing." ThoughtCo, Jan. 15, 2018, thoughtco.com/make-photo-suitable-for-faxing-1702322. Chastain, Sue. (2018, January 15). How to Make a Photo Suitable for Faxing. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/make-photo-suitable-for-faxing-1702322 Chastain, Sue. "How to Make a Photo Suitable for Faxing." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/make-photo-suitable-for-faxing-1702322 (accessed January 24, 2018).