Sepia Tint

Image shows a sepia tone of a man sitting on a bench in Hong Kong.
A sepia tone is a common imaging technique that gives an image a warm, antique feeling.

A sepia tone is a reddish brown monochrome tint. When applied to a photo, it gives the picture a warm, antique feeling. Sepia is a Greek word meaning "cuttlefish," a squidlike mollusk which secretes a dark brown ink or pigment. The ink derived from the secretion of the cuttlefish was used as a primitive pigment, although it has been replaced today by modern dyes.

In photography, sepia refers to a brown tint which could occur in photos treated with a gold toning bath.

Over time, the photo would fade into the reddish-brown tint we associate with sepia now.

Site visitor Angela wrote in to explain how a sepia-toned photo is created in the darkroom: "Traditional sepia-toned darkroom prints are bleached and re-developed in a sepia developer to produce a warm, brown effect."

You can give your modern photos an old-fashioned effect by applying a sepia tint in most photo-editing programs.

Here are the color coordinates for a typical sepia tint:
RGB: 112, 66, 20
CMYK: 39, 69, 100, 41
Hex: #704214
HSV: 30°, 82%, 44%

Sepia Tint Tutorials:

Graphics Glossary

Also Known As: sepia tone, cuttlefish

Common Misspellings: sepai


Updated by Tom Green