Advanced Color Toning Made Easy!

Over the years I have shown many ways to color grade your photographs from split toning to solid color overlays and even some unique methods using off the wall blend modes.  While each technique has their benefits, they all require a great deal of studying to get perfected results.  So, what if I told you there is an easy way to get professional results with your color toning?

While the word advanced usually implies that there will be a certain level of difficulty, this technique is far from challenging.  It does require a bit of color theory knowledge and the understanding of the Soft Light blend mode but, it can be done in three straightforward steps:

  1. Select the Gradient Map
  2. Change the blend mode to Soft Light (Or Overlay)
  3. Select two or more colors (us grey to protect specific tones)

That’s it, pretty simple but very effective. 

The important thing here is the use of the 50% grey (#808080) to protect the tones you do not want color graded.  Soft Light is a unique blend mode that completely disregards the 50% grey tone (it throws it out) and only allows the selected layer to affect the underlying layers if the tones or colors are above or below 50% grey. 

Color Toning

That means we can color grade any of our tones while protecting others from being affected at all.  Because we are using a Gradient, we get to decide what will be protected and how much of it will be protected.  

This technique is incredibly advanced for being as simple as it is, but it does have a slight learning curve.  Below you will find 26 gradients that I created for you, an Action, and a 15-minute video explaining how this color toning is accomplished.  Enjoy!

Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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