In today’s Quick Tip, we’re going learn how to create a split toning effect in Photoshop in two extremely simple ways. We’ll also be sharing a Photoshop action for you to download and use yourself!
What Is Split Toning?
Split toning is an old film effect where the image comes out somewhere between black & white and colour. Often, when film photographers decided to use sepia toning, they found their image to have not completely bleached and this left a multi toned style image which was given the name split toning.
Nowadays it is a desired effect amongst digital photographers and can be created using almost any digital editing software. Today we are going to use Adobe Photoshop but the techniques can easily be ported to Lightroom, Aperture or GIMP.
Any JPEG file is perfect for digital split toning. The effect works well for both portraits and landscapes, so don’t worry too much about your subject.
If you have a RAW file, please note that this process becomes even easier! The RAW panel has all the tools for you to create the split toning effect.
I am using Photoshop CS5 but any version should be fine. The only thing that may differ in your version is the filter name.
Method 1 is slightly longer but gives you more control over the end image. I prefer to use it for portraits rather than landscapes.
Open up your copy of Photoshop and load up your photo.
For those using CS4 or higher simply go: Image > Adjustments > Black and White. An alternative would be to simply add a hue and saturation layer, then reduce the saturation of the image to -100.
Select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue and Saturation.
Duplicate this layer (CMD + J), then rename the top one as “highlights” and then the second as “shadows”. Select the layer mask on the highlights, then simply go Image > Apply Image. The image should then appear inside the layer mask.
Select the highlights hue and saturation layer. Use similar settings to mine below to get the same sepia colour from old fashion film split toning.
Make sure you have selected the "Colourize" tick box at the bottom if not you will end up with a completely different result!
- Hue: 30
- Saturation: 53
Select the second shadows hue and saturation layer. Again make sure the colourize box has been selected. This time we want to use a light blue colour.
- Hue: 207
- Saturation: 40
- Lightness: 0
Select the layer mask from the highlights hue and saturation layer and then hit CMD/CTRL + L on your keyboard. This will bring up the levels control for this layer mask. From here, control the slider in order to get the perfect result.
You have then successfully and easily created a fake split tone image!
Method 2 is easier to complete and would be the quickest way in my opinion to complete this process. This works better for landscape photography.
This is identical to the last method – we simply just need to turn our image to black and white. If you happen to have forgotten already then go to Image > Adjustments > Black and white.
The next step is also again very simple. Select Image > Adjustments > Colour Balance.
Then select shadows from the adjustment panel. First, we want to create the nice blue colour – I would advise copying my settings from below, as these have worked for me on a great number of occasions.
- Hue: -45
- Saturation: 0
- Lightness: +43
This time, select midtones and then we almost need to switch the settings over completely.
- Hue: +45
- Saturation: 0
- Lightness: -43
Last but not least, select the highlights and fill in the last of the settings.
- Hue: +40
- Saturation: 0
- Lightness: -40
Remember you can always take this effect further by adding a noise layer or a distort glow.
Thanks For Reading!
Split toning via digital software is really an easy process once you learn how, and can be an interesting effect to spice up an otherwise dull photo. If you want to speed up the process even further, you could download my photoshop action for drag-and-drop split toning!