With traditional photography, there’s a technique called Toning that aims to change the color of black and white photos. I’m sure you’ve seen these types of images around. Basically, they are colorless photographs with a light hint of a color. Usually, from what I’ve seen, the hint of color is brown or gold. Many photographers like giving their shots an antique style. I find this style appealing, personally speaking.
In today’s post, I’m going to show you the steps necessary to apply a toning effect to photos using Adobe Photoshop. First, we’ll strip away any existing color and then we’ll apply a toning filter. We’ll adjust the opacity of that filter and then finally, we’ll use Camera Raw to go one step further and apply some additional filters to the image. When I’m finished with this post, you should know how to give any digital photo you have an antique or “toned” appearance.
The Demo Photograph
For this post, I thought I’d go the route of finding a nice photo of some antiques. Either that, or a photo that looks like the item(s) in it are antique. I believe I did just that and I think I found an image that will do well for this post. Check it out.
I bet you haven’t seen a telephone like this in real life. They’re becoming more and more difficult to find.
Adding a Black & White Adjustment Layer
As you can see, the photo of the phone doesn’t look antique beyond the fact that the phone itself is antique. Since I already have the photo launched into Photoshop, I’m going to remove the color that’s making the photo look more modern. The way I’ll do this is by adding a Black & White adjustment layer. I’ll head up to the Adjustments panel and click the Black & White icon.
After I do this, I’ll see the color in the photo be stripped out and the Properties panel for this adjustment appear. I’ll also see the new adjustment layer appear in the Layers panel.
If I would like to add or remove any contrast in the photo, I can use the Black & White adjustment sliders to do so. Or, I could choose one of the presets from the Preset drop-down box.
To learn more about how to make the perfect black and white photo, please read the post below.
If you leave things the way they are, don’t sweat it because you can always go back and modify the look of the black and white image later on.
Adding a Gradient Map
In this section, I’ll explain how to acquire the colored overlay.
To add some color to the photo, I’ll head back up to the Adjustments panel and click on the Gradient Map icon. Once I do that, I’ll notice a new adjustment layer appear in the Layers panel as well as the Properties panel for this adjustment open up.
If you do this in your own version of Photoshop, you’ll likely notice that you don’t have all that many gradients to choose from. To add more gradients, please read through the post below.
In this case, I clicked through a few preset gradients and found something that appealed to me. After I did that, I minimized the Properties panel to get it out of the way. At this point, if I feel that the gradient is too strong, I could always adjust the opacity of the adjustment layer. I’d make sure the layer is selected in the Layers panel by clicking on it once and then I’d click and drag the Opacity slider directly above the layer.
Creating a Smart Object
Although the photo is looking pretty good, it doesn’t have the effects I’d like to see in it. To get those effects, I’m going to have to jump from Photoshop over to Camera Raw for a bit. But, in order to do that, I’ll first need to convert the original photo layer to a Smart Object.
To convert the layer, I’ll select it in the Layers panel by clicking on it and then I’ll right-click on the layer. When the menu appears, I’ll click on Convert to Smart Object. This will immediately make the conversion and I’ll see the distinctive icon appear in the lower right corner of the layer thumbnail.
Now that the layer is a Smart Object, I can move onto the next step.
Applying a Camera Raw Filter
As I mentioned above, I’ll need to jump into Camera Raw for a moment to apply a few filters that this application executes extraordinarily well. To access Camera Raw from Photoshop, I’ll head up to the Filter > Camera Raw Filter menu item and click.
After I do that, Camera Raw will open in its own window. The image I’ll see inside of Camera Raw is the original image I had in Photoshop. I won’t be able to see any modifications I made to it by way of adjustment layers.
Once in Camera Raw, I’ll click on the Effects tab and push the sliders around that are situated under the Grain heading. I’ll also reduce the value of the Amount slider under the Post-Crop Vignetting heading. I’m looking for some additional grain in the photo along with some darker corners.
When finished, I’ll click on the OK button down below to return to Photoshop with those effects applied to the photo. Again, if I need to make any adjustments in Camera Raw, since I edited a Smart Object, all I need to do is double-click on the Camera Raw Filter layer to return to Camera Raw and make those changes. All the changes I make in this post are non-destructive.
The Final Image
That’s it. That’s all I need to do to alter this image to give it a photographic toning and antiquing effect. Let’s take a look at the final product.
Now, let’s liven things up by taking a look at a before and after shot.
That looks awesome.
I hope I clearly explained how to apply a photographic toning effect to a photograph using Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!