How To Create a Sepia Tone Image in Photoshop

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How To Create a Sepia Tone Image in Photoshop

Create a sepia tone image using Adjustment layers.

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 are going to look at 3 ways of using an Adjustment layer to create a Sepia Tone image.

Let's get started.

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How To Add Sepia Tone To A Black And White Adjustment Layer

Desaturate a sepia color using the Color Picker.

In the first part of this series I showed how to create a Black & White Adjustment Layer. As I pointed out, you adjust the grayscale image by using the colour sliders or the On Image Adjustment button. There is also a Tint check box in the properties. Click it and a “sepia-like” tone is added to the image. To desaturate the intensity of the color, click the color chip to open the Color Picker. Drag the colour down and to the left- toward the greys- and when you release the mouse just a “hint” of the tone will remain.

Another way of using this technique is to select the eyedropper tool and sample a colour in the image. I like the brass in the fixture and sampled it. The resulting colour was #b88641. I selected Tint in the Properties, clicked the chip and entered that colour into the Colour Picker. Once you are satisfied, click OK to accept the changes.

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How To Use A Gradient Map Adjustment Layer in Photoshop

Use a Gradient Map Adjustment layer.

A Gradient Map adjustment maps the colours in the image to the two colours in a gradient. This gradient is composed of the Foreground and Background colours in the Tools panel. To see what I am talking about , click the Default Colors button in the tools to set the foreground colour to black and the background colour to white.

To apply the Gradient Map select it from the Adjustment pop down and the image changes to grayscale and a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer is added to the Layers panel. Now that you can see what it does, delete the Gradient Map layer and apply a Black and White adjustment layer.

To create the Sepia tone, open the Gradient in the Properties panel and change the White to #b88641. You may notice the effect is a bit strong. Let’s fix it.

In the Layers panel reduce the opacity and apply either an Overlay or Soft Light Blend Mode to the Gradient Map layer. If you choose Soft Light feel free to increase the Opacity of the Gradient Map Layer.

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How To Use A Photo Filter Adjustment Layer in Photoshop

A Photo Filter Adjustment is an uncommon,yet effective, approach.

 Though primarily used to neutralize color casts in images the Photo Filter Adjustment layer can quickly create a sepia tone from a black and white image.

Open a colour image and apply a Black and White adjustment layer. Next add a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer. The Properties panel will present you with two options: add a Filter or a solid color.

Open the Filter pop down and select Sepia from the list. To increase the color in the Sepia tone, drag the Density slider in the Properties panel to the right. This will increase the amount of color showing. If you are happy, save the image. Otherwise, feel free to apply any of the filters in the list to see what they do.

Another option is to select Colour in the Properties and click the colour chip to open the Colour Picker. Choose or enter a color and click OK to apply the colour to the image. Use the Density Slider to adjust the amount of color showing.