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One of the funny things about Photoshop is if you ask ten different Photoshop experts how to do a sepia tone, you are probably going to get ten different answers, ten different techniques. So this video is about my technique for doing a sepia tone and of course, I think my technique is the best. Not trying to be arrogant at all, but one of the downfalls I see in some of the other sepia tone techniques is that they end up looking dirty or dingy, specially the mid-tones and into the highlights. A true sepia tone really won't have dirty whites. The whites will actually still be a little bit crisp and clean. Let's talk about how the textbook method of sepia tone in Photoshop CS4 is accomplished and then I'll tell you how to improve upon it. Let's begin by going to our Adjustments panel and choosing a Black & White adjustment layer and Photoshop now does a very nice job of doing custom black and white conversions with this Black & White Adjustment.
You can control the conversion of each color individually, so if I want my reds in the image to be a little bit brighter in Grey Scale or darker, I can control that independently, it's really nice. If I want their eyes to pop a little bit, I can adjust the Cyan slider or the Blue slider to make them sparkle just a little bit more. It's pretty subtle change, so you're seeing a little bit of change there. Okay, then you'll see in the Adjustments panel Photoshop has actually tried to make it real easy to do a sepia tone by adding a Tint checkbox, which then applies a Color Overlay on top of the Black & White adjustment layer here.
It'll actually default it to a nice sepia tone color. But here you can see what I'm talking about. The whites here are not staying white. They are actually getting kind of yellowish and dingy. And I don't really like that effect. Well, we could try to limit the colorization and the highlights, if you remember the Advanced Blending Options, those Blend If sliders. So, how do you get there? If you double click on adjustment layer thumbnail and that doesn't actually do anything because it's not an image layer. So Option or Alt+Double-Click will bring up the Layer Style dialog box and that's where you'll discover the Blend If sliders and that's as where as you can tell Photoshop to ignore certain tones, either on this layer or the layer underneath. But here's the problem, what's underneath this Grey Scale conversion, this black and white conversion? It's the color image, so if I drag this White slider to the left, while this is interesting, it's doing the blend back to color. It's not exactly the look I was going for. So, we'll go ahead and hit Cancel here and I'm going to ahead and leave the black & White adjustment layer still on, but I'm going to turn off the Tint. We are going to accomplish the tint a different way, we are going to use a Color adjustment layer.
We will go back to the bottom of the Layers panel and we'll chose Solid Color from the top of the list here, from the adjustment layer menu icon and this brings up a dialog box where we can pick a solid color. Now, I just happen to know the numbers of the sepia tone I want. So, in the R field, I'm going to type in 225, I'm going to hit the Tab key. I'm going to type in 210 for green, hit the Tab key one more time and I'm going to type 1AD for blue and this gives me a nice base color for a sepia tone effect. I'm going to go ahead and click OK. The image looks better already, all right.
Now what we want is the color of this layer, led in details of the layers underneath. So, how do we do that? Well we change the blend mode of the Color layer to -- what do you think? That's right. Color. So use the color of this layer, but show through and blend down of the details underneath. Now that this is a separate adjustment layer, above everything, I can use the Advance Blending sliders on the Color adjustment layer and limit where the color shows up in the underlined image. Because directly below the color layer is this black and white conversion layer. So we'll Option or Alt+Double-click on the Color adjustment layer icon.
This brings up our Blend If sliders again and now I can bring that White slider over to the left and you see at a certain point, it actually drops color out completely. I just want to go round about there to where the colors above the drop out and then we want to split the sliders. How do we that? We hold on the Option key or the Alt key and that splits the sliders apart. So I can control them and get a blend between opaque and transparent areas in the image here. So, I'm just going to eyeball this and decide where I want the color to be in the mid-tones and in the shadows, but I want to keep the whites clean and bright.
So, you just decide where you want that split to be. It's completely flexible and up to you. This gives you a lot of flexibility. You can make it from a platinum tone to a sepia tone just using the same color and deciding how much of the bright parts of the image you want to color to come into. So, I'm going to go right about here, I think like 12, let's go with 200 for the left slider and say 225 for the right slider, looks good to me. Here's before, just turn in the Preview checkbox on and off and there's after. Hopefully you can see the difference. I'm biased. I think my effect here, my style, is a little bit better when those lights are not so colorized. So, I'm going to take it out just a little bit more to 220 and there's before and there's after. So there you have it, a better sepia tone technique by using multiple adjustment layers using the Color blend mode on a Color adjustment layer and then dialing back down where the color is occurring by using the Advance Blending sliders and the Layer Style dialog box.
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