Split toning is the one of the most beautiful photo effects you can do.
In split toning, the highlights and shadows of an image are tinted in different colors. The result is that an otherwise run-of-the-mill photo can be turned into an image that is unique, striking, rich and warm. It’s just gorgeous.
Split toning has its originals in the days of film photography and darkroom processing. But luckily we can create the effect today using digital techniques available in both Lightroom and Photoshop. And while split toning can be done on both color and black and white images, I really like the way it enhances a black and white photo. So that’s what we’ll be looking at today.
We’ll start by looking how to create toned images in Lightroom. Since the process is nearly identical in Photoshop, we’ll quickly touch on that towards the end of the post.
Select An Image
The first step when creating a split toned image is to select an appropriate photo to start with.
While you can use any image you’d like, the effect is especially striking when created from photos with two basics characteristics:
- The image has a fair amount of contrast with distinct areas of highlights and shadows.
- The image features a subject that feels antique, retro, timeless. Split toning imparts a vintage feel to an image. The effect works better on photos that have a classic, ageless look.
I’ll be using the photo below for the example we’ll be working through. It has nice areas of highlights and shadows and has a easy going, “yesterday” feel to it.
Convert Photo to Black and White
We’ll start by converting the photo to black and white.
There are a lot of different ways to convert an image to black and white in Lightroom’s Develop Module. So feel free to use whatever method you like.
For the photo that we’re using here, I’m going to convert it by first clicking on the B&W button at the top of the HSL/Color/B&W Panel found on the right side of the Lightroom Develop interface.
This will convert the image to black and white. This conversion uses Lightroom’s Auto Mix settings and is based on the colors in the photograph.
Then I’ll tweak these settings just a bit to add a little more contrast to the scene.
Okay, so now that we have our image in black and white, let’s move on to look at Split Toning Panel.