We’re probably all familiar with the classic techniques of photographic toning from seeing various examples of Sepia toned images, but for years analog photographers have been experimenting with chemical toners to create various processing effects. One such technique is to split tone a print to create a dark blue and copper coloured image with a dark dejected mood. In this tutorial we’ll look at using Photoshop to replicate this classic technique in digital form, using Color Balance adjustments to achieve the same range of blue and yellow tones.

Split toning Photoshop effect

Typical sepia toning of a photograph gives the image that classic orange/brown appearance, resulting in a much warmer atmosphere than the basic black and white alternative. Split toning on the other hand produces much more stark effects by creating unusual colour combinations. One popular technique is the bleaching of highlights with sepia, followed by the treating of the shadows with selenium to give a harsh mix of blue and yellow tones. The result is a cold and dejected mood which works great with photographs of abandoned ruins or urban exploration. Here’s an example of this effect applied to a photo from a friend’s exploration of Chernobyl. See more of his great shots of Dark Pripyat.

Split toning in Photoshop

Sepia/Selenium split toning effects work best with photographs that feature some kind of desolate scene in order for the dark blues to give the image a gloomy atmosphere. My buddy Ric kindly supplied one of his Dark Pripyat shots as the base for this tutorial.

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  1. This is a great way to acheive the effect. I have been playing around with varous techniques for the last few months but this one looks like a winner.

  2. Wow! Great tutorial, thanks. Photographic toning is very important in the art of photography.

  3. I am iranian!
    I dont speek good english!
    من یه ایرانیم!
    خوب نمیتونم انگلیسی صحبت کنم!!!
    منم یه گرافیستم اما تو کشور خودم، ایران.
    I am a graphist

  4. I am now a days looking for such kind of filters and effects for my upcoming photography studio company! and this will surely help me! Thank you

  5. Hi, I am new in graphics design. I know Picasa and photoscape perfectly. I use them to edit a photo or to give effects on photos. But I want to know the proper graphics design. I want to learn editing with photoshop, illustrator and other good tools. How can I learn from online?

    Thanks in advance.

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