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Split Toning, Gimp Tutorial

Split toning effect is similar to black and white, but with ash and sepia tones.

Italian Web master: Bad English, but good tutorials.

The Split Toning is an artistict effect that is similar to black and white, but with a large difference: the highlights and the lowlights will have two different color tones. If you are looking for black and white, i suggest you to read my enhanced Black and White tutorial. In this split toning tutorial for Gimp I will use the most common colors: sepia and ash.
You can also try with different tones. First of all, find the right photo. I choosed this Opel Kadett, that is an old rally car. Remember that the results are great even with portrait photos.

before and after split toning

If your image is very contrasted (like the one that i choosed), you shoud consider to reduce the contrast.
You can open Colors - Brightness Contrast tool and set the contrast to -10.

Change Brightness Contrast

Open your photo with Gimp and then desaturate it: Colors - Desaturate then select Luminosity and press OK.

apply a desaturation

Find the Layer Window (press Ctrl+L if hidden), then right click on Background layer and choose Duplicate Layer.

use gimp to double the bg layer

Now right click on the Background copy and choose New Layer, then press Ok.

double again

Select the Bucket Fill tool, then change the primary color to a sepia. If you want to use the same color that I choosed, write dab383 on the HTML Notation, than press OK. Now left click anywhere on the picture, you should get a plain sepia layer.

first color of split toning is sepia

Change the blend mode to Color, leave opacity to 100%, then right click on the new layer and press Merge Down.

blend the sepia layer

Hide the sepia layer by clicking the little eye on the left of the Background Copy layer.

use Gimp to hide layer

Now you should redo again all the steps before with the ash color.
- Duplicate the Background layer
- Create a new Layer above all
- Choose an ash color as primary (I used 23363C as HTML Notation)
- Select Bucket Fill Tool
- Click anywhere on the image (you will get a plain ash layer)
- Select Color as blend mode and leave opacity to 100%
- Merge down the New Layer

If you've done all the steps without errors, you should get something like the next image:
One black and white background, one ash layer and one sepia level.

split toning right layers

Now you have to use a tool, known as Layer Mask, to get the Split Toning Effect.
The Layer Mask is a tool that allows you to use the alpha of a layer as a mask.
The sepia will be used only for highlights, and the ash for lowlights, let's see how:
Right click on the Sepia Layer, than choose Add Layer Mask, select Grayscale copy of layer from the window that appear, then OK.

Add layer mask

Now do the same operation on the Ash Layer, but remember to select Invert Mask as below:

use the ash tones for the lowlights of the split toning

The last step of this Split toning Tutorial is to merge all the visible layers, just Right Click on any one and choose Merge Visible Layers, leave selected Expand as necessary and press Merge.

Merge visible layers

You may can consider to increase the saturation for better results: go to Colors - Hue-Saturation and increase the saturation value as you want.

before and after split toning

If you like this effect, you can be also interested in our Age a Photo Tutorial.

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