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Sepia Filter | How to Add a Sepia Tone in Photoshop

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A sepia filter is just one of many filters that you can use to enhance your photography.

It used to be a pigment taken from cuttlefish. When added to darkroom prints, it would turn remaining silver halides into a brownish colour.

In this tutorial, you’ll out how to use Photoshop to add this sepia tone to your images below.

Photo of a landscape in sepia tone

Why Would You Want to Add a Sepia Tone?

In former times, way before the likes of Instagram and mobile phones, all prints were analogue.

This means that someone had to manually make each print from negatives. It gave them control over the entire process.

As more and more chemicals became available, photographers started to experiment. Some of these experiments didn’t take. Others, like sepia toning, are still popular today.

There are a few reasons why someone would use it. A sepia filter separates those who like color from those who like black and white. This tone sits somewhere in the middle.

A sepia filter allows photographers to stick out and create an underused style. It is also used to add age. Photographers who use sepia photos add a vintage look to a digital, modern scene.

If you’re looking to set yourself apart or make your images look a century old, the sepia filter is for you.

Photo of a landscape with sepia filter

How to Add a Sepia Tone in Photoshop

Adding a sepia tone in Photoshop couldn’t be simpler. The first thing you need to think about is how strong you want it to be. It is similar in how to make an image black and white in Photoshop.

The second thing is how to make sepia photos look good. This will make itself clear when you start the process.

First and foremost, you need to turn your image into black and white in Photoshop. Grayscale is another option.

This is the image we will be working with.

Portrait photo of a male model

Open an image in Photoshop, and go to Image>Adjustments>Black and White.

A screenshot showing how to add a new adjustment layer to Add a Sepia Tone in Photoshop

To create a sepia-toned image, we are going to use the Photo Filter Adjustment Layer. Here, you even have a specific filter for sepia toning.

Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Photo Filter.

A screenshot on how to add a photo filter in Photoshop

From there, you can find the Sepia filter in the drown-down menu of the Adjustments Panel.

A screenshot of adding a sepia filter in Photoshop

The only thing left to do now is to change the Density of the image. This is the strength of the sepia tone across the image.

You’ll see that the amount is displayed as a percentage, and changed via the slider. It runs from 0% to 100%, where the higher number equals a stronger sepia filter.

The only other adjustment remaining is the Preserve Luminosity check button. Unchecking this box removes the luminosity of your image throughout.

A screenshot of adding a sepia filter in Photoshop

Using the Photo Filter Adjustment Layer isn’t the only way to tun your images into sepia photos. Gradient maps, colour balance adjustments, or the solid colour layer can also work.

There you have it. A few steps to turn your images from colour to sepia. Play around with it and see what cool images you can create.

Looking for more great tips on filters? Check out our new post on filters to use with black and white photography next!

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