Split toning: what it is, how to do it in Lightroom, Photoshop and ACR | Lesson | Photo, video, optics


Split toning, or split toning, is a method of toning a photograph in which different colors are mixed into the light and dark parts of the image. For example, lights are painted in cold shades — blue, blue, and warm ones are added in the shadows — yellow, orange.

Photographers tone their shots to create a mood in the frame. The most banal thing is that a warm shade is associated with comfort, warmth, happiness, and a cold one is associated with alienation, loneliness, longing. Here’s how to split-tone in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Adobe Camera Raw in a couple of minutes.

Split toning is moving away from the cliché. Using two colors at once, you can create complex and interesting color combinations that will surprise the client / Illustration: Elizaveta Chechevitsa, Fotosklad.Expert

Split Toning in Lightroom

Making split tones in Lightroom is incredibly easy. There is a tab in the editor for this. Color Correction / Color Grading. It’s on the menu Development / Developin which the main work with brightness and color in photographs takes place.

When split-toning, the photographer usually works with two tabs — Highlights and Shadows. But don’t be afraid to experiment! You can use all three circles, or choose only one of them / Illustration: Elizaveta Lentchevicha, Photostore.Expert

How to Split Tone in Lightroom

1. Open a photo. In the tab Development / Develop find a tool Color Correction / Color Grading.

2. To recolor a photo, first select the brightness you will be working with − Lights / Highlights, Shadows or Midtones / Midtones. In the tool interface, these are three signed rainbow circles.

3. Left-click on the circle in the area you want to recolor the Highlights or Shadows. Remember: the closer to the center of the circle the set point, the weaker the color saturation. To make the tinting color as bright as possible, put a point closer to the border of the circle.

Split Toning in Adobe Camera Raw

To apply separate toning, it is not necessary to go into Photoshop — all the necessary manipulations can be done in the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) raw converter. This is convenient if, for example, you are processing reportage images and you do not have the desire and time to open each image for retouching.

The interface of Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom is almost identical. Having dealt with one of the editors and subsequently encountered the second, you will immediately understand how to work in it / Illustration: Elizaveta Chechevitsa, Photosklad.Expert

How to Split Tone in Adobe Camera Raw

  • Open a photo and click on the Edit tab at the top left of the screen.
  • Select the Color Grading tool from the drop-down list.

To overtone the dark parts of the photo, put a dot in the circle called Shadows / Shadows.

To overtone the highlights, whites and highlights, left-click on the areas inside the Highlights circle.

Circle Midtones / Midtones are best used with great care and do not put a point close to the edge of the circle. As a rule, midtones are the most information in a photo, so toning with them can look too clumsy and rough.

To change color ratios, move the slider left or right Balance. Thus, either the color in which the shadows are tinted, or the color that is responsible for the lights, will appear more strongly. For example, in the screenshot, the balance is shifted towards the shadows so that the green appears more strongly in the photo.

Split Toning in Photoshop

In Photoshop, the same technique can be done in different ways. There is no right or wrong decision here. What matters is personal convenience and how quickly the desired result is obtained. Here are two ways to do split toning in Photoshop.

Curves / Curves in Photoshop

Curves is one of the most capacious tools of the program, in which you can change the brightness, raise the contrast, correct the white balance and, of course, tone the photos.

Read also:

Curves guide: how to edit a photo with the most powerful tool in Photoshop

It is not necessary to tint only color photographs. Split-toning is also suitable for black and white shots / Illustration: Elizaveta Lentchevicha, Fotosklad.Expert

1. Open a photo. In the palette Layers click on the black and white circle icon. Find an adjustment layer Curves / Curves.

2. In the window that opens, find the RGB drop-down list and click on it. You will see a menu of curves of three colors — Red, Green and Blue. Choose any of them. For example, red, as in the screenshot.

3. To make split-toning, move the extreme points of the curve. The left point — the black point — is responsible for the shadows (you can recognize this by the black marker at the lower left side of the square), and the right one — the white point — for the lights (the white marker at the lower right side of the square).

Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to just the red curve! By switching between curves of different colors and shifting points, you will get different shades of colors.

How color changes when using curves

  • Red Curve:
  • the black point rises up — the shadows turn red;
  • the black point shifts to the right — the shadows turn blue;
  • the white point shifts to the left — the lights turn red;
  • the white point goes down — the lights turn blue;
  • Green curve:
  • the black point rises — the shadows turn green;
  • the black point shifts to the right — the shadows turn purple;
  • the white point shifts to the left — the lights turn green;
  • the white point goes down — the lights turn purple;
  • the black point rises — the shadows turn blue;
  • the black point shifts to the right — the shadows turn yellow;
  • the white point shifts to the left — the lights turn blue;
  • the white point goes down — the lights turn yellow;

Color Balance / Color Balance

Color balance is a highly simplified variation of the curve that allows you to tone the photo and adjust the white balance. Represents a tab Tone with three tone areas — Lights / Highlights, Shadows and Midtones / Midtones.

Each of the tabs has three two-color sliders. By moving it to one side, you add a hue to which you move. For example, if you move to the right on the Cyan-Red / Cyan-Red slider, red will be added / Illustration: Elizaveta Lentchevicha, Photostore.Expert

To do split-toning with the tool Color balanceswitch between highlights, shadows and midtones in the tab Tone and move the colors around until you get a nice looking result.

In this case, Color Balance is more convenient than Curves, since you don’t have to constantly switch between the tabs of the three channels to get the right shade in the shadows.


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