Phil Hall shows how to create the Split Tone effect yourself

Spilt-toning harks back to the days of mono hand-printing and the darkroom. Chemical toners are used to add hints of colour in the shadows and highlights of the image – typically a warm tone for the highlights and cooler tones in the shadows. It’s a technique that will add a lovely fine-art look to your shots, full of rich and sumptuous tones, and the good news is, it’s possible to recreate this effect in Photoshop. To do this, you’ll need to create a Gradient Map, and while this may sound daunting, it’s actually a lot simpler than it sounds. The other thing to remember is that you’re not restricted to specific colours for the highlights or shadows – feel free to experiment with your own colour/tone combinations to get your own distinct look. Let’s see how we create a split-toned effect in Photoshop…

Step One

Split Toning Tutorial

Select Gradient Map

Once you’ve converted your image to mono, bring up your Layers palette (F7) and at the bottom, click on the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the palette. From the drop-down menu, select Gradient Map.

Step Two

Split Toning Tutorial

Make a Color Stop

Click on the Gradient to bring up the Gradient Editor dialogue box. From the Presets, select Black, White. Now click a quarter of the way along the gradient so the Location is 25%. Click on the Color, and pick a dark colour from the Color Picker and hit OK.

Step Three

Split Toning Tutorial

Save gradient

Now click three-quarters along to add another Color Stop – Location should be about 75%. Click on the Color again and select a light tone for the highlights and hit OK. Now hit New to save the Gradient in the Presets so you can use the gradient on another image.

Step Four

Split Toning Tutorial

Adjust opacity

The effect will probably look too strong, so making sure you have the Gradient Map layer selected; we can use the Opacity control to vary the intensity of it. Save as either a TIFF or Photoshop file to maintain Layers so you can always edit it at a later date.

  • Alessandro

    Interesting as many of WDC tutorials. The “print” option of the pages needs a major improvement though!

  • artHarris

    I am tired of articles on “how to …” with Photoshop. I don’t, and won’t use photoshop because it is too expensive and too over complicated. What about targeting LightZone, or Aperture? The answer is that they are so easy to use, such “how to ..” articles aren’t necessary.

  • Cynclomo

    look at Vestidos de graduaci¨®n , just clicks away

  • Georgie

    I would appreciate your help. Thank you Georgie

  • Roy

    Doesn’t seem to work in PS7

  • Barry Park

    Thanks for the reminder. I have used this idea in the past but over time it’s easy to forget about these simple but effective techniques.

  • PhotoNathan

    I just used it on one of my photos and it instantly made it more interesting.