Mastering in monochrome is more than just hitting Desaturate…
Open up the image and duplicate the original image layer. We won’t be working on the original, only the duplicate. With our duplicate layer selected, hit Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+U to Desaturate.
Press Cmd/Ctrl+L to bring up Levels. The sliders underneath the histogram represent Shadows, Midtones and Highlights. Tweak them to get a good tonal balance. For this image, we set Shadow at 2, Midtone at 0.96 and Highlight at 224.
Create a new layer and we’ll use the Clone Stamp on low Opacity with a Soft Brush to smooth the skin. Sample often and only in areas with the same tone as where it’s being applied.
Duplicate the Black and White image layer. Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur on a low Radius: 1.0 pixel or less. Create a mask or erase to reveal sharpened areas. Leave the skin and edges of the hair blurred.
Create a new layer and set layer mode to Overlay. Use a Soft Round brush with Opacity settings lowered, brush in highlights using white. This allows closer control over highlights.
Create a new layer, but instead of setting to Overlay, set the mode to Multiply. Grab the same brush in black and dramatise the shadows. Darken the area around the eyes for added effect.
Create another new layer and leave the layer mode Normal. Decrease the Brush Size and work on accentuating the most focused features, such as the eyes. Add extra length and volume to the lashes.
We’ll use the Brush and the Eyedropper (Opt/Alt) together to pick colours and blend them, smoothing transitions in trouble spots between shadows and highlights.
Grab a dotted brush tip on the Smudge tool, set strength to 75-85%, and check Sample All Layers. Brush through the hair in the same direction as the hair flow to remove flyaway hair pieces, starting at the scalp and working downwards.
Continuing downward with hair smudging, we find that the looks are getting curlier. Pick out the biggest looks and brush over them to smooth majority at once, enough to make a nice impression.
Press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+E to create a merged layer, then use Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur with a Radius high enough to blur parts without being unnatural. Reveal the underneath via erasing.
Merge visible layers again with Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+E. Use the Sharpen tool very gently on the most focussed areas of the image to increase the overall impact. Especially concentrate on the eyes, lips and the locks of hair that frame the face.
Make any necessary final adjustments to the image, including tonal adjustments with Levels or Brightness/Contrast, or you could do some manual touch-up work with a new layer and the Brush tool.
Use a Layer Mask on your Black and White image to reveal the original eyes, making sure that it’s just the pupil that needs masking, not the entire eye. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and increase the saturation. Add a Colour Balance adjustment layer and alter the sliders to give the pupils a much stronger blue. Use textured brushes on multiple layers to paint in a textured backdrop. Adjust opacity to suit the image and move the brush marks around to give an even distribution. Add a new layer and draw a diagonal line. Duplicate this layer and group it. Add a Layer Mask to reveal the portrait and adjust opacity to suit.