Below is a screenshot from Bridge showing the before (the only thing done here is some slight cropping), the initial after and then a tri-tone image (it is this last image I am going to be focusing on below).


In the initial after image I have obviously done added a vignette and performed some sharpening but I have also removed some clutter in the background, softened her skin ever so slightly and cleaned up some rough edges of her hair. If memory serves, I added a little bit of contrast to her eyes (focusing on not changing the colour) as well.

In the tri-tone image I basically took the initial after image and performed a technique called Duotone in Photoshop. To start this process here is what to do:

1. With the image open in Photoshop select Image then Mode. The current selection will most likely be RGB mode. This is the typical mode that camera’s take images in – it is how my photos start out.

2. Select Grayscale. A couple of warnings will popup. The first is asking whether or not you want to merge your layers (if you had no layers then you will not have this warning). I typically do not merge them, however, it is best if you do. The second is asking whether or not you want to discard the colour information, click discard.

3. Once this is done, you can now go back into Image then Mode and select Duotone (it was grayed out before).

4. Up pops a dialog box – this is where the fun begins. The dialog box will bring up whatever Toning you last created/worked with. If you haven’t used this feature before, it will start in a Monotone setting (one colour to be used throughout the image). To change the number of colours used change Monotone to Duotone (2 colours), Tritone (3 colours) or Quadtone (4 colours). To change the colour click on the colour box and then select the one you want. You can either browse through the ‘swatches’ that are there or you can use the normal colour picker by hitting the Picker button on the right hand side of the newest dialog box.

5. The trickiest thing about this application are those little graphs beside the colour boxes. Essentially these are just like Curves boxes and show you the distribution of the colour throughout your image. On the Left are your highlights and the Right are you shadows. As you move the curve around you change how that specific colour acts in each of the areas. You can make the colour only show up in the highlights or switch it completely around and have it only in the shadows, or anything in between. It takes some time to get used to this and I would suggest not jumping right to Quad-tone when you are starting out.

Here’s a screen shot for the Tri-tone box I used for the above image.


As you can see, I used a fairly normal curve for my black and darker pink colour and then brought in a lighter pink in the highlights. The bottom colour bar shows the distribution of colours throughout the image. In a normal image, this bar would go from white to black.

Try it out sometime and let me know how it goes for you.


I have been playing around in Photoshop, like I tend to do in my spare time, and am spending a fair bit of time trying to learn the ins and outs of a feature called Duotones. Basically, you take a grayscale image and add inks to it one at a time. You adjust the intensity of the inks you apply the same way you would adjust the lighting via curves so that part of it is familiar at least. You can have one ink (monotone), two inks (duotone), three inks (tritone) or four inks (quadtone) applied to an image.

The first image here is one I took way back in 2008 while in London, England. It is much more subtle then the below image from Chicago, taken last year. They are both quadtones (four inks applied) but obviously have different colours and intensities applied. The Easter Island image has three grays and a pink while the Chicago image has a black, blue, purple and pink applied in that order.

When using the Duotone feature you have to keep in mind that it is best to apply the colours from darkest to lightest. The logic wasn’t explained to me by the instructor, just the rule. But it makes sense as the inks are applied almost like screens. If you place a darker screen over a lighter one you won’t see the lighter colour at all.
I am far from perfecting duotones, as you can clearly see in the images I have done so far, but I like the effect it has and how it can range from subtle to in-your-face so easily. This is definitely something I am going to continue working with.