Easy Sepia Tones


Remember my post, “Better Black and Whites?” In it, we looked at how to take a photo and turn it into a great black and white (rather than a gray and lifeless one) using the gradient map method. Well now we are going to take those great black and whites and make some great sepia-toned images.

Sepia toning, a type of brown/white coloring of imaging, originated from a chemical process that was used to prevent the break down of chemicals in photographs. One of the reasons that many old photos are sepia is because those are the ones that have lasted. It was a preservation process. Today, sepia is still used, but instead of longevity being the reason, artistry is the motivation. Sepia tones give an old and comfortable feel to photos, and for us scrapbookers, sepia toning can be the perfect touch for a page.

Just like with black and white photos, there are many presets and actions that will help give you the sepia look. However, as I said in the black and white post, every photo is different and few photos are served well with a “one size fits all” action. So, I like to do my own seipa coversions. Don’t worry, they are easy!


Since Photoshop Elements users usually get the raw end of the deal as far as tutorials go even though there are more PSE users than PS, I am going to first give a PSE only tutorial. That’s right — this method won’t work in Photoshop. Go figure 🙂

I am going to start with a great black and white. I used the gradient map method to convert it. Here is the orginal photo:




Then the color variations dialogue box will appear. It will look like this:


Click on INCREASE RED > DECREASE BLUE > and then LIGHTEN or DARKEN as you like


This was the result



If you want an easy PHOTOSHOP tutorial, using the DUOTONE method, see HERE. It gives you the basic settings and then leaves you room to play. Using their basic settings, this was the result:


Have fun playing!