Black and White through Channel Mixer | Split Toning in Photoshop

StartFragmentIn print, toning is when we take a traditional black-and-white paper print and dip it in chemicals to change its color and make it more permanent. For example, Ansel Adams often used selenium, which made his prints slightly purple in the darker areas. (Selenium Toning) This unexpected result often give the photo a more polished look. - Check out more on traditional Lightroom Split Toning here.

With the accessibility of Photoshop, it is very simple to add a slight tint to an image, i.e. by adding a Sepia Color Photo Filter. But inorder to capture the level of polisheness of a split toned photo, consider using the Channel Mixer feature instead.

Digital Split-Toning in Photoshop

Channel Mixer was added to PS since version 5 and it is a great tool for manipulating the color of an image. Check on the monochrome option in the dialog box and you will end up with a much better desaturation. By adjusting the R, G and B channel settings, you have much greater control to achieve a fine balance of the 3 colors. And as long as the 3 values add up to 100% The image will not become too dark or too blown out.

Normally, the easiest way to turn a color photo into b/w is to do a mode conversion from RGB into Grayscale, but you have no control over the outcome. With the new versions of PS, you can use the B/W adj. layer, and get a lot of different options to desaturate your image. You can also use the monochrome option under the Channel Mixer, with a lot of control in retaining contrast.

This is a test image from one of our old projects, it's beauty shot rendered in Marmoset with full color.

Desaturate using Channel Mixer. Instead of sticking with the presets, definitely try out different values and combinations in RGB to make your image "pop"

Next step is to add two layers of full color toning to the image. *Note, this is not the same Duotone process found under Image>Mode>Duotone. This is using two contrasting colors to help increase the quality of the traditional sepia toning of a color image. In this case, I have chosen the bottom layer to be warm- Sepia as the base tone, and the other layer with a cooler blue for its highlight and contrast. Then using the blend option found in the layer stacks to fuse the two layers together. By adding contrast through a seperate layer, it bring out the middle tones and highlights of an image.

To blend, double click and go into layer style, adjust the blend range on "This Layer" You will notice the Sepia tone starting to show through. Play around with the range, press and hold the "alt-key" to split up the arrows to increase the blending range. Watch out for banding and posterization.

Combined effect - Warm shadows with cool highlights.

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