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Duotone Effects Photoshop


Grasping the Art of Duotone with Helpful Resources, Tools and Tutorials

Ready to expand your skills in Photoshop?

In this captivating video, we’ll blast away the keyboard’s cobwebs and stretch the mouse’s cord as we uncover the Jekyll and Hyde of bitmap images, tearing pixels apart to change their DNA.

You know why it’s so exciting, don’t you? By expressing colours that complement the style of your design projects, this technique of image modification enables your designs to convey and resonate with much greater precision.

Why Two Tones?

Why Two Tones?

It is the very last thing you can do before your image completely vanishes. To distinguish between light and shade visually, one needs two tones. The advantages of this restriction provide the designer complete control over the colour of the image and aid in creating remarkable contrast. You might desire a more coherent look for a poster design or to incorporate your image into your company identity.

Sepia is one of the most widely used filters for giving duotone photos a more intriguing appearance. This filter can give pictures a more vintage appearance, giving an already alluring design more depth and personality. The development of duotone photos and their historical relevance are traced, which amplifies their influence on photography. Check out this very motivational collection of impactful duotone pictures for some visual stimulation.

Gathering Resources

The three essentials you need to kickstart your duotone project are as follows:

  • Finding high-quality photographs for your project: It is in your best advantage to locate high-resolution images. The cause? Because you have greater flexibility when editing in raster-based applications like Photoshop the higher the pixels per square inch. Additionally, when there are more of them, Photoshop will be able to identify many more contrasting pixels, improving the way gradient maps mix. Bitmap photos may be extended past their original size without losing quality, which might be humiliating. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you choose your image from a verified stock image collection consisting of well-known images that have undergone quality control and are prepared for usage for either personal or commercial purposes.
  • Selecting the appropriate image: The significance of the image to your project is obvious. However, there can be a few traits in the selected image that can harm the result of your project. Choose photographs with strong contrast and white or negative space for the best results. The cause? The colour that is overlaid will have a better chance of showing through. Additionally, it allows designers room to incorporate other design elements within the photos.
  • If you didn’t already know it, colour speaks to our subconscious as it influences and inspires us. Colour transmits moods and feelings. Therefore, it is highly advantageous to have an understanding of colour psychology based on established theory rather than what your instinct tells you if you want to make the most of duotone. On the other hand, if you are producing artwork for a rebranding or marketing campaign that adheres to specific design standards, you could be required to choose colours based on brand rules.

Photoshop Duotone Tutorial

As we immediately enter the immersive world of duotone, make sure your seat is upright and that your coffee is nearby. By bridging the gap between pixel and vector, this skill will undoubtedly help you improve your ability to inject imagery with more straight-edge graphic content. This will allow you to make your designs resonate a little more through the use of stronger colour language while retaining the true power of your image.

Preparing Your Workspace

Open Photoshop and switch the picture mode to CMYK (four colours) after carefully choosing your image. This indicates that when the project is revisited, the colour scheme will not change.

Convert Your Image to Grayscale

You must convert the image to grayscale or black and white for your duotone colour overlay to function. Go to the Image menu in the top menu bar, select Adjustments, then choose either the Saturation tool to reduce the image’s saturation or the Black and White option to instantly convert the image to black and white.

Adjust Contrast

Prior to adding any colour gradients, it’s a good idea to correct levels to avoid causing any disappointment later in the editing process. Adjust the image using Curves, Levels, Contrast, and Brightness until the black-and-white contrast is acceptable. This will then make the effects that are later added to the image stronger.

It’s Time to Clean

This is the ideal time to start tidying up your image with the Clone Stamp tool. You may easily remove any extraneous marks, objects, and noise from the image to get a clear, flawless image.

Applying The Duotone Effect

Applying the duotone effect is the exercise’s most exciting step at this point. All you have to do is choose Gradient Map from the Adjustment Layer menu in the bottom right corner. When you do this, a random gradient will be applied to your image right away, and Gradient Map will become a new Adjustment Layer. To use the Gradient editor, double-click the Adjustment layer to bring up the Gradient Map settings menu. You can choose from a variety of preset gradients in this menu, or you can create your own gradient by choosing two Pantone, Hex, or colours from your own Swatches library, or by using the colour wheel.

Examine the impact of divided tones! Discover how the image responds to various hues as you immerse yourself further in the multicoloured explosions taking place in front of you by experimenting with various values, maps, and directions.

Do not become alarmed if the image appears to be negative. All you need to do is click the reverse button, and your image should appear as you intended.

Fine-Tuning your Duotone Effect

There are countless ways to polish your image’s appearance so that it has the ‘IT’ factor that so many of us yearn for. Since we are currently viewing a brand-new image as opposed to the one you started with, it is advised to review the tone levels and once again change the Curves, Levels, Contrast, and Brightness.

Additionally, you may consider adding intriguing textures that don’t affect the image’s structure but rather offer flavor—what some might refer to as Zing or Umph—instead.


Given that it replicates the effects of raw photography, this is a great illustration of texturing an image. For a more technical explanation, a camera’s programmable ISO settings have an impact on how the camera responds to various lighting situations. The image is grainier or noisier the higher the value. Select your image layer, choose Noise from the drop-down filter menu, then click Add Noise to give your duotone image this retro appearance. Choose Monochrome to apply the traditional black-and-white noise effect, then observe how your image changes.

Textured Overlays

Adding textured overlays to your image is another technique to improve its overall look. These transparent images can be stacked on top of your image layer to give your duotone image depth and authenticity. Simply download the overlay and add it to a new layer above your featured image to have the job done for you.

Adding Text and Graphic Elements to Your Image

Adding text, images, and graphic elements—all of which can be found in Freepik’s enormous materials library—to your design will give it utility for a more sophisticated design project. Everything, from large, bold typefaces to sophisticated logos and vector designs, is available with just one click. It’s not as easy as dropping something and pushing print, though. Since it is now a design project, certain aesthetic guidelines should be observed to create a unified appearance:

  • Use the same two colours you chose for the image to maintain the duotone appearance. This will strengthen the overall design even more and produce a pleasingly balanced look with strong contrast.
  • Spacing: As was already mentioned, while choosing a picture, attempt to take advantage of the white space that is available for adding graphical components like text, logos, or vector designs. Applying additional graphic components over active portions of the image can frequently result in a trashy design that turns users off.
  • Let the image do the talking: Images speak much more than words can, so avoid belittling its power by using overpowering elements within the design. One way to keep a lid on things is by using grid layouts over the artboard. You could even incorporate the golden ratio, a mathematical proportion that is found in pretty much every natural thing!

Exporting your Design in Photoshop

Depending on the intended purpose of the image, there are a few exporting options available that will enhance the image’s functionality.

JPG: This is the go-to file format for those who intend to print the image. However, it is often the standard format for most image uploads across the internet. Simply go to File, Export, Export As… and choose JPG in the File settings.

PNG: The go-to file format for use across the internet, they serve well when creating websites and anything digital for that matter. You will also be given the option to switch on transparency, a great attribute when using the image for other design projects that involve layering other visual elements. Go to File, Export, Export As… and choose PNG in the File settings.

PDF: If you’re sending your design off to the printers, they may request a PDF file format. This format is more of a document-style format that allows you to save multiple artboards at a time. It also allows you to adjust more output settings and add crop and bleed to the image. To save in this way, go to File, Save As, and then select Photoshop PDF in the format options. Once you click save, a new window will appear, providing custom options. You can even save your preferences for future use by selecting the Save Preset option.



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