In this movie I'll demonstrate what has to be the simplest way to create a solid, professional- quality sepia tone in Photoshop. And so we'll be taking this black and white treatment and converting it into this powerful sepia tone here, so let's see how it works. For starters I have got this full-color photograph, I'll go ahead and Alt+Click on the eye in front of close couple, and I've added a couple of Adjustment layers here. The first is this Channel Mixer layer. And while a Channel Mixer is an old-school approach, I have to say it might be my favorite way for distilling black and white photographs.
So obviously I turned on the Monochrome checkbox, we've got 60% Red, subtracting 30% Green and then adding 76% Blue, it's a total of 106 with a Constant set to -1% and that ends up filling out the histogram. On top of that I've got this Curves Adjustment layer here, and you can see that we are just adding a little bit of highlight contrast. All right, so the next step with that Contrast layer selected is to press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac and then click the black/white icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Solid Color, and then I'll go ahead and call this layer sepia, and click OK.
That will bring up the Color Picker dialog box and it'll show the foreground color by default. I'm going to go ahead and set the Hue value to 30 degrees or raise the Saturation to 45% and I'll take the Brightness value pretty high to 80% and then I'll click OK. So now the thing is you can dial in any color you want, that's just the suggested color. Then I'm going to set the Blend mode in the upper left corner of Layers panel, from Normal to Multiply in order to burn those colors in. Now I really only want to bring the colors into the shadow details, I want to leave the highlights neutral.
So I need to add Density Mask, so I'll Alt+ Click or Opt+Click on the eye in front of the close couple layer, and then I'll go over to the Channels panel and you can see that we've got the Red Channel here, which affords us the most contrast, because the couple's faces are very bright. Then in the Green Channel the skin tones start to darken and then in the Blue Channel they get darker still. So, we want the channel with the most contrast; that's the Red Channel. I'm going to Ctrl+Click or Cmd+Click on that channel in order to load it as a selection outline, then I'll switch back to the RGB image.
Go back to the Layers panel, turn all the layers back on by Alt+Clicking or Opt+Clicking on the eye in front of close couple, and then because we want a Density Mask as opposed to Luminance Mask, so in other words, we want to mask away the highlights and keep the shadows. You drop down to the Add Layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and you Alt+Click or Opt+Click on it, and you end up getting this effect here, and that's pretty much most the work. The other thing I want to do is elevate the contrast, because if you take a look at the final version of the image, you can see that we've got some clarity; that is some darkening that adds weight around the details inside this image.
So, I'll switch back to the image in progress here and I will press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and click on that layer mask in order to load it up, then I'll click on the close couple layer to make it active and I'll convert it to a Smart Object by going up to the Layers panel flyout menu and choosing Convert to Smart Object or if you loaded dekeKeys, you can press Ctrl+,(comma) or Cmd+,(comma) on the Mac and then you want to go up to the Filter menu and choose Other and then choose High Pass, or again, if you loaded dekeKeys, you can press Shift+F10.
Inside the High Pass dialog box I want you to enter Radius of 12 pixels, where this image is concerned; this is a moderate to low resolution image. If you're working in a higher resolution, you would need to experiment with higher Radius values, probably at least twice the size, and then click OK. And finally, we want to change the Blend mode, because you can see that we're losing contrast so far. So I'll double-click on that little slider icon to the right of the words High Pass and I'll switch the mode from Normal to Overlay and we end up achieving this effect here, and that is all there is to it.
If I press the F12 key, you can see that we started with a black and white photograph and then just a few minutes later if I press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on a Mac, you can see that we end up with a professional-quality sepia tone with all kinds of lustrous detail and high impact contrast, here inside Photoshop.
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