fbpx

How To Create Duotone Colors In Photoshop (Step By Step)

Last Updated:

Knowing how to make duotone in Photoshop is an impressive way to make your photo pop. This design technique converts your image to only two colors of your choice. The result is a bold, striking picture highlighting the photo’s contrast.

There are two main methods for achieving the duotone effect in Photoshop, and your method of choice should depend on your strengths. A top tip for creating the duotone effect is to use a high-contrast photo with a relatively simple background, as these images will produce the best result.


Lesson Summary
Step 1: Select The Channel With The Most Contrast
Step 2: Click On Add A New Fill Layer And Select Solid Color
Step 3: Add A New Solid Color Fill Layer To Set The Color For The Shadows
Step 4: Double-Click A Color Thumbnail To Change The Color (Optional)
Step 1: Select The Channel With The Most Contrast
Step 2: Click On Add A New Fill Layer And Select Solid Color
Step 3: Add A New Solid Color Fill Layer To Set The Color For The Shadows
Step 4: Double-Click A Color Thumbnail To Change The Color (Optional)

How To Create Duotone Colors In Photoshop

Step 1: Select The Channel With The Most Contrast

Open the Channels Panel by going to Window > Channels. Then, go through the individual color channels and decide which one has the most contrast. Click on a color channel to see how the image looks. 

Your final duotone image will look like the color channel you select, with your two colors added to the shadows and highlights. Now, hold in Control (Win) or Command (Mac) and click inside the channel thumbnail to make the selection. Once you’ve made the selection, you will see that the marching ants select only the highlights on the canvas.

Step 2: Click On Add A New Fill Layer And Select Solid Color

You can now add a solid color fill to the highlight areas to create your first duotone color. To do so, you must open the Layers Panel again by clicking on the Layers tab. Then, add a Solid Color fill layer by clicking on the circle icon at the bottom of the panel and selecting Solid Color.

After clicking on a solid color, the Color Picker opens, and a color is immediately added to the highlights on the canvas. You can use any method in the Color Picker to add your chosen color. Move the color around to see a few different results.

Once you’ve selected your color, press OK to confirm your choice and close the Color Picker. You have now added the color of your highlights to the photo.

Step 3: Add A New Solid Color Fill Layer To Set The Color For The Shadows

Select the image layer in the Layers Panel. Then, add a new Solid Color fill layer by clicking on the same icon at the bottom of the panel and selecting Solid Color. The new fill layer will appear above the background layer but below the highlights layer. This ensures that the fill color only affects the shadows since the layer mask above has isolated the highlights.

You can now choose a color for the shadows in the Color Picker. Remember, a darker color works best since you are adding to the shadows. Select your color and click OK to confirm the new color.

You have now successfully created a duotone effect on your photo.

Step 4: Double-Click A Color Thumbnail To Change The Color (Optional)

To change the colors, double-click on one of the fill layer color blocks to re-open the Color Picker and choose your new color. Then, repeat with the next color block. You can do this as many times as you need to find the perfect color combination for your image.



Using Gradient Maps To Create The Duotone Effect

Step 1: Add A Gradient Map Adjustment Layer

Once your image is open in Photoshop, add a Gradient Map adjustment layer by opening the Adjustments Panel and selecting the Gradient Map icon.

Once the Gradient Map is added to the image, the colors on the canvas become the two gradient colors. You can see the gradient settings in the Properties panel. 

Step 2: Open The Gradient Editor And Select A Black-To-White Gradient

To change the gradient colors, you need to open the gradient editor. To open this window, click once on the gradient bar in the Properties Panel.

The Gradient Editor window opens, allowing you to change all the gradient settings. First, if your gradient doesn’t have two colors, you can change this to make selecting the two new colors easier. To change the gradient type, open the Basics tab in the gradient presets section and select the black-to-white gradient.

Step 3: Select A Color For The Shadows Using A Color Stop

To change the color of the shadows, click on the color stop, which is the small color block beneath the gradient bar. Once you select the color stop, a few more options appear at the bottom of the window. Click on the color block to open the Color Picker. Select your color in the Color Picker and then click OK to confirm the color.

Step 4: Select A Color For The Highlights Using A Color Stop

You can now add the highlight color by repeating the above step using the color stop on the far right of the gradient bar. Click on the far right color stop, and then click on the color block at the bottom of the window. Next, select the color for your highlights in the Color Picker and click OK to confirm the color.

You can now see your two colors on the gradient bar. If you are happy with them, click OK at the top of the window to accept the new gradient colors.

You have successfully created a duotone color effect using a Gradient map on your image. 

You can change the colors anytime by selecting the Gradient map layer and opening the Gradient Editor in the Properties Panel. Play around with the colors until you find the right combination for your photo.

With each of these methods, you can create the duotone effect in a way that suits your workflow. I personally prefer the simplicity of the Gradient Maps, but if you aren’t comfortable working with gradients, the first option using channels will be right up your alley!



Photo of author
I'm a Canadian photographer and photo retoucher turned founder of bwillcreative.com. Around here I help you to decode the mystery of photo editing with no-fluff videos and written guides to help you achieve your creative goals. Outside of shooting photos and my passion for educating, you'll find me mountain biking or on the trails with my dog, Sunny!

Continue Reading:

How To Create Adjustment Presets In Photoshop

Learn how to create adjustment presets in Photoshop in a few easy steps to speed up your work and create consistent edits across multiple images

How To Use The Marquee Tool In Photoshop

Learn how to use the Marquee Tool in Photoshop to crop layers, create basic selections, add selective adjustments, and more with ease.

How To Crop A Layer In Photoshop (3 Simple Methods)

If you're struggling to figure out how to crop a layer in Photoshop, you're not alone. Fortunately, there are a few easy (not so obvious) methods to help you crop a single layer in Photoshop.

How To Use Generative Remove In Lightroom – Complete Guide

Learn how to use the Generative Remove feature in Adobe Lightroom to seamlessly remove large objects from your photos with AI.

What Are Embedded Previews In Lightroom + How To Use Them

Use this guide to help you understand the use of embedded previews in Lightroom along with tips to help you use them in your workflow.

Adobe Lightroom System Requirements For Mac & PC

Here's a breakdown of the system requirements for Adobe Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC to make sure it will run smoothly on your computer.

How To Outline An Image In Canva

Learn how to outline anything in Canva from outlining images, shapes, text, designs, and more with a few easy steps.

How To Add A Border In Canva (To Images, Shapes & Text!)

Learn how to easily add a border to your designs, images, shapes, and text in Canva using these step by step techniques.

How To Make A Background Transparent In Canva

Learn how to create and export images with transparent backgrounds in Canva to open up more design options and creative styles.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments