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This chapter is from the book

Applying Tints

It was common in the early days of photography for pictures to be brown, blue, or silver instead of plain black and white. Sepia toning, which gave a warm reddish-brown color, was the most common, and the one we tend to associate with most old-time photos.

If you want to restore the sepia tone to a picture you've been working on, Photoshop gives you several ways to accomplish this. Perhaps the easiest is to reset the mode to CMYK or RGB, depending on whether the finished photo will be viewed onscreen or printed, and then use the Hue/Saturation window (Image→Adjust→Hue) to add color. After you open the window, as shown in Figure 21.22, check the Colorize box and the Preview box. Then move the sliders until the image looks the way you want. Click OK when you're satisfied with the color.

Figure 21.22 Don't forget to check Colorize.


A somewhat richer tone can be achieved by using Duotone mode, which combines the grayscale image with a colored ink. Duotones are often used to extend the gray range of a photograph because a typical printing press is capable of reproducing only about 50 shades of gray. Photoshop can generate 256.

To create a duotone, start with a grayscale image. You needn't convert it back to RGB or whatever colorspace you usually work in. Choose Image→Mode→Duotone. In the Duotone Options dialog box, you also have the option of adding additional colors to make a tritone or quadtone. Although duotones are usually composed of black plus a single color, as shown in Figure 21.23, there's no good reason why you can't use two colors instead, especially if the end result is to be displayed on a Web page or as part of a desktop presentation, rather than in printed form.

Figure 21.23 The pop-up menu also lets you make tritones and quadtones.

To Do: Create a Duotone from a Grayscale Image

If you did the last exercise, try applying a duotone to the teen-agers. Otherwise, use any photo with a good grayscale. To make a duotone from a grayscale image, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Duotone Options dialog box (Image→Mode→Duotone).

  2. Select Duotone from the Type pop-up menu, if it's not already selected (refer to Figure 21.23). This menu is in the upper-left corner of the dialog box.

  3. Choose colors for your duotone by clicking the color swatches. Choose black or a dark color for Ink 1 and a lighter color for Ink 2. (Figure 21.23 shows my choices.) You must select the Photoshop Color Picker, rather than the system Color Picker, to access the Custom colors (that is, colors from ink systems such as PANTONE, Focoltone, Toyo, Trumatch, and so on). If you need to switch to the Photoshop Color Picker, close this dialog box temporarily by clicking Cancel, and open the General Preferences dialog box (File→Preferences→General) or Command (Mac) or Control+K (Windows). Set the Color Picker to Photoshop and click OK. Reopen the Duotone Options dialog box and proceed.

  4. Use the curve proxies within the Duotone Options window to adjust the curves for your two colors. (They're the small windows with diagonal lines, just to the right of the words Ink 1 and Ink 2.) If you click on of the small curves, it expands to a full-size curve grid, which works just like the one on the Image→Adjust submenu (see Figure 21.24). Click to set points and drag to adjust the curve. You can't see the effect on the image, but you can see it on the strip of tone in the Duotone Curve dialog box.

  5. Figure 21.24 Here we're adjusting the curve for Ink 2.

  6. Click OK to apply the duotone to the image. Unfortunately, there's no preview box available. If you're not satisfied with the result, undo it and try again.


Using blue as the color with black gives you an image that replicates an old, black-and-white TV set. Using a light-to-medium brown with black gives a pretty good imitation sepia, as does a combination of red and green.

"Hand-Tinted" Photos

Years ago, before color film was readily available, it was common to see hand-tinted photos. These had been painstakingly overpainted with thinned-out special paints to add a pale suggestion of color to the picture. The Photoshop Brush and Airbrush are well suited for re-creating the look of a hand-colored photograph. You can even do the whole Ted Turner routine and colorize stills from your favorite Marx Brothers movie or Bogart classic. (You can find lots of movie stills and movie star pictures on the Web to practice on.)

After you have cleaned up the image that you want to hand-tint, change the mode back to color, either RGB or CMYK, as you did previously for the duotone. Make a new layer and set the layer opacity to between 10% and 30%. Set the Brush opacity to 80% and paint your tints.

If you have large, uncomplicated areas to tint, use one of the Selection tools, such as the Lasso or the Magic Wand, to select the area. Select a foreground color and choose Fill from the Edit menu; a dialog box will appear as shown in Figure 21.25.

Set the Opacity to about 25% and choose Multiply from the Blending Mode menu. Do NOT check Preserve Transparency. Set Foreground Color on the Use pop-up menu. Click OK to fill all the selected areas with your chosen color at that opacity. If it's not enough, either reopen the Fill dialog box and apply it again, or undo it and set a higher percentage. If it's too much, undo and set a lower percentage.

Figure 21.25 Use Fill for large areas. It's faster and smoother than painting. (Photo courtesy of Judy Blair.)

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