Cameta 101: 6 Ways to Create Sepia Tone in Photoshop

sepia_tone_01

Sepia toning is a process from the 1880s that entails coloring a black and white print to give it a warm tone with yellow and red hues. Nowadays, darkrooms have been replaced with a computer, and the chemicals that produce the photograph have been replaced with digital imaging software. Photoshop is the most popular software and the beauty of it is that there are so many ways to get the same result. You can “tone” your picture to look extremely yellow or red, or you can make the tone very subtle.

There is something so beautiful about a sepia toned picture.  It’s timeless purity resonates with black and white film photography. Although I miss the smell of the chemicals in the darkroom and the tactile nature of making a print, it is pretty amazing to be able to tone an image in Photoshop and get instant results. Also, once you discover a combination that you like, you can easily apply it to other pictures so that all of them have a similar tone.

NOTE: This guide uses Photoshop CS6 as a reference.  The latest version (as of 2016) is Photoshop CC (part of the Adobe Creative Cloud series of apps), but anything you learn here can be applied in almost any recent version of the software. Additionally, I put in the exact numbers I used for the pictures, but it will definitely vary depending upon your picture and how you want the picture to look.

1. Color Balance

  • Layer → New Adjustment Layer → Hue/Saturation → OK → Slide saturation to -100
  • Layer → Color Balance → OK
Tone: Shadows
Cyan-Red: +9
Magenta-Green: 0
Yellow-Blue: -34
Tone: Midtones
Cyan-Red: +14
Magenta-Green: 0
Yellow-Blue: -34
Tone: Highlights
Cyan-Red: +29
Magenta-Green: 0
Yellow-Blue: -16
sepia_01 sepia_02

2. Gradient Map

  • Layer → New Adjustment Layer → Hue/Saturation → OK → Slide saturation to -100
  • Layer → New Adjustment layer → Gradient Map → OK
  • Opacity: 50%, Overlay
  • Click on Gradient Map box → Color Stop (bottom left) → Color → #676700 → OK → OK
sepia_03 sepia_04

3. Photo Filter

  • Layer → New Adjustment Layer → Hue/Saturation → OK → Slide saturation to -100
  • Layer → New Adjustment Layer → Photo Filter → OK
  • Filter → Sepia → Density: 88 → Layer Opacity: 84
sepia_05 sepia_06

4. Black & White

  • Layer → New Adjustment Layer → Black & White → OK
  • Check Tint Box → Click on box → #b6906b → OK
  • Reds: 42, Yellows: 75, Greens: -81, Cyans: 33, Blues: -8, Magentas: 17
sepia_07 sepia_08

5. Hue / Saturation

  • Layer → New Adjustment Layer → Hue/Saturation → OK → Check Colorize box
  • Hue: 14, Saturation: 18, Lightness +1
sepia_09 sepia_10

6. Curves

  • Layer → New Adjustment Layer → Hue/Saturation → OK → Slide saturation to -100
  • Move red curve until input and output boxes appear.
    Type these numbers into the boxes, Input: 113, Output: 132
  • Move blue curve until input and output boxes appear.
    Type these numbers into the boxes, Input: 176, Output: 166
  • Change the opacity of the layer to 80%.
sepia_11 sepia_12

Sepia toning an image is so fun because there isn’t a right or wrong. You can experiment with different methods and see what you like best for your image. I made some that were more yellow, more red and some were very close to black and white with just a hint of a tone. So, try out some of these methods and your pictures will take on a whole new life.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*