How To Apply a Sepia Tone to a Photo in Photoshop

Mother and child
Carlos Davila/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

A sepia tone is a reddish brown monochrome tint. When applied to a photo, it gives the picture a warm, antique feeling. It's easy to do in Photoshop!

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 5 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Open the image in Photoshop.
  2. If the image is in color, go to Image > Adjust > Desaturate and skip to step 4.
  3. If the image is in grayscale go to Image > Mode > RGB Color.
  4. Go to Image > Adjust > Variations.
  1. Move the FineCoarse slider down one notch less than the middle.
  2. Click on More Yellow once.
  3. Click on More Red once.
  4. Click OK.


  1. Use the Save... button in the Variations dialog to save the sepia tone settings. The next time you want to use it, just load the saved settings.
  2. Use Desaturate and experiment with Variations to apply other color tints to your photos.

Editor's Note:

This is an very quick and easy technique but, like everything else in the graphics industry there are 6,000 other ways of doing the same thing. Over the past couple of years this column has explored sepia toning techniques in Photoshop.Two of the more recent articles are:

How To Create A Sepia Tone Image In Photoshop :

Sepia tone images simply add a dash of colour to a black and white image. This photographic technique has its roots in the 1880’s. At that time photographic prints were exposed to sepia in order to replace the metallic silver in the photo emulsion.

By doing the replacement the photo developer could change the colour, and increase the tonal range of the photo. It was also believed the sepia toning process increased the life of the print, which explains why so many sepia photographs still exist.

So where did this sepia come from? Sepia is nothing more than the ink extracted from a cuttlefish.

In this “How To” we  look at 3 ways of using an Adjustment layer to create a Sepia Tone image.

Camera Raw is becoming an increasingly-popular digital imaging format. By playing with the raw data that composes a digital image you can create some amazing effects including the creation of a sepia tone image.