Subscribe to our RSS

Convert Images to Grayscale

Tags: , , ,

Convert Images to Grayscale

Read this tutorial to find out how to desaturate an image (convert color images to grayscale) using JavaScript. A cross-browser code sample is supplied.
Recently we published a tutorial explaining how to rotate images using JavaScript. To continue this series of tutorials on image manipulation using JavaScript, we would like to explain how to change color images to grayscale using JavaScript.

This is a relatively simple task, but there are two methods (one method for Internet Explorer and one method for all other browsers).

Canvas Method

As you probably know, screen color consists of 3 components: red, green and blue. Each component or color (for example, red) has a value from 0 to 255. The value 0 indicates there is no red color and the value 255 would be the brightest possible red color. To convert a color to grayscale you just need to calculate the average for all three components. This can be done using the simple formula below:

grayscalecolor = (red + green + blue) / 3;

All modern browsers support the CANVAS tag which is allowed access to the image’s pixels. The code below will go through each pixel in the image and replace the color values with an average value. Here is the code:

var canvas = document.createElement('canvas');

var canvasContext = canvas.getContext('2d');

var imgW = imgObj.width;

var imgH = imgObj.height;
canvas.width = imgW;
canvas.height = imgH;

canvasContext.drawImage(imgObj, 0, 0);

var imgPixels = canvasContext.getImageData(0, 0, imgW, imgH);

for(>var y = 0; y < imgPixels.height; y++){
     for(>var x = 0; x < imgPixels.width; x++){
          var i = (y * 4) * imgPixels.width + x * 4;
          var avg = ([i] +[i + 1] +[i + 2]) / 3;
[i] = avg;
[i + 1] = avg;
[i + 2] = avg;

canvasContext.putImageData(imgPixels, 0, 0, 0, 0, imgPixels.width, imgPixels.height);

return canvas.toDataURL();

From the above code sample, you see that we created a canvas, loaded the image into it, and then changed the color values of each pixel in the image to an average value. After that we simply replaced the SRC of our image to the image changed in the canvas.

Using the same method you can also flip images using JavaScript. (We will create a tutorial for this in the future).

MSIE (Internet Explorer) method

Microsoft Internet Explorer does not support the CANVAS tag, but Microsoft does provide image manipulation through filters. The filter to use for converting images to grayscale is the filter named DXImageTransform.Microsoft.BasicImage. Therefore, we simply apply this filter to our image, and it will work in all versions of MSIE (starting from version 6). = 'progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.BasicImage(grayScale=1)';

That’s it ;) Click the Demo to see it in action.

Ayaz Chishti

May 3, 2012

Hi, Can we convert all images of gallery list to grayscale?

ricette cocktail

November 16, 2011

Re my earlier comment, the issue for me was that I was using $(document).ready(), when i should have been using $(window).load(). That way, it waits until all the images are loaded in the browser before executing the effect.


October 21, 2011

great !
I had hard time to use your code to make grey out overlay of image as I wanted. To create a hover effect with the saturated image. It works now.

I just found that someone created a plugin from your code

jeetendra kumar singh

October 8, 2011

nice code
but it is not giving expected result for another colors
i want to change the image color as user select


September 19, 2011

I get an error: INDEX_SIZE_ERR: Dom Exception 1.

$(document).ready(function() {
var imgObj = document.getElementById(’image’);


August 14, 2011

not working with Firefox put work fine with opera
thanks for this great tutorial

Josh Reisner

July 4, 2011

Re my earlier comment, the issue for me was that I was using $(document).ready(), when i should have been using $(window).load(). That way, it waits until all the images are loaded in the browser before executing the effect.

Josh Reisner

April 26, 2011

This is a great script! I’m having an issue with WebKit though, for some reason it won’t load a bunch at the same time. See the following URL. Firefox handles it no problem, Safari and Chrome show blank images. But when you trigger mouse over then out, the grayscale effect works.

Any advice to get them all to load on ready? Thanks.


April 17, 2011

I used absolute url only,not relative url.
But in the demo you have used relative url’s for images

February 25, 2011

Hello Jdsans
You should put an absolute URL. Relative URL will not work.

Pushpinder Bagga

February 21, 2011

Thanks, can we do this on mouse over? I mean show the desaturated images and on mouse over show the original?


February 13, 2011

Some pretty & cool from this snipet code.
How come to change the color other than grayscale, can we?


February 8, 2011

Hi, thanks for your very useful tutorial.
Though (I’m a newbie to JS), I don’t fully understand how to apply it… I mean: where do I put the code (I surely need some function, I guess) and how do I call it inside the html.
Thank you in advance!


February 2, 2011

It doesn’t work if the image URL is given directly written in the src attribute.


January 11, 2011

I already used your code with jpg files and it works well.
But now I want to use this code with png files and it isn’t work.
google chrome says : Uncaught Error: SECURITY_ERR: DOM Exception 18

you can see yourself at :

Why it doesn’t work?


December 2, 2010

You don’t need to imbricate two loops looping through picture’s width and height.

“data” property returns an array, you can loop through this array with +4 increments.

for(var i = 0; i <; i=i+4){
. var avg = ([i] +[i+1] +[i+2]) / 3;
.[i] = avg;
.[i+1] = avg;
.[i+2] = avg;

Javier España

October 27, 2010

I tried to use this but I keep getting an error:

Security error” code: “1000
[Break on this error] var imgPixels = canvasContext.getImageData(0, 0, imgW, imgH);

Here’s que slightly modified js:

Any ideas?


September 1, 2010

just tested and seems to work fine. I managed to have it done on the .hover the picture. Is there any way to “turn it off” on the rollout (or any other action) ?


August 19, 2010

thanks for the snippet. i modified your code to this…

$.fn.greyscale = function() {
return this.each(function() {
if ($.browser.msie) { = “progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.BasicImage(grayScale=1)”
} else {
this.src = grayscaleImage(this)

function grayscaleImage(imgObj) {


$(document).ready(function() {

July 1, 2010


Thanks for your comment. To reset the image you should just reload the image again (for example: $(’#image-container’).html(”); )

If I didn’t understand your question correctly, just let me know.



June 25, 2010

Nice script, tnx. But to reset the colors?


June 24, 2010

If your class name is “gray” so you should use:

var imgObj = $(’.gray’);

…I haven’t tested yet but it looks more logical.

February 18, 2010


To turn to a certain class of grey, you may want to try this: var imgObj = $(’.image’)[0];




February 15, 2010

This is great. I’d like to turn all images with a certain class grey, and while adapting your demo if I change:

var imgObj = document.getElementById(’image’);


var imgObj = $(’.image’);

I get errors about uncaught exceptions. Is there a way to do what I’m trying to accomplish?

I’m not too familiar with JS so my apologies if this is a foolish question. Thanks!

February 1, 2010


Yes, your method will work as well and thank you for sharing it. I am sure some users will find this to better suit their needs. However, I should note that the method we used has been tested and works in all browsers. So, if anyone prefers this alternative method, we suggest they be sure to test it for full browser compatibility.



January 23, 2010

Thank you, it works great.
However, in order to be able to apply grayscale on resized images, you would rather detect their size this way :

imgObj2 = new Image;
imgObj2.src = imgObj.src;
var imgW = imgObj2.width;
var imgH = imgObj2.height;

instead of

var imgW = imgObj.width;
var imgH = imgObj.height;


Leave a comment

Your name

July 28, 2014

Spam protection. Enter result of expression you see in the box below.

8 + 2 =