Fix It In Photoshop | How To Convert An Image To Duotone

David Coultham

Here is how to quickly and easily convert your digital images into cool Duotone or Tritone images.

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Video | How To Convert An Image To Duotone

STEP 1: With your image opened in Adobe Photoshop, head across to the Layers Tab and then make a copy of your Background Layer. Rename this new Layer to “Duotone Layer”.

Now convert the Duotone Layer into a Smart Object by heading up to the Application Bar and ‘Layer > Smart Objects > Convert To Smart Object’. Alternatively, you can right-click directly on the Duotone Layer, and Convert To Smart Object is one of the options in the pop-up window. 

The reason that we converted the Layer into a Smart Object, is that otherwise, the next step would restrict what other changes we can do to the image.

STEP 2: Double-click the Duotone Layer Image Icon, so that it opens up in a new window in Photoshop. You should see the new Tab in the Document Window area, and it will be labeled “Duotone Layer.psb”. Now, head up to the Application Bar and ‘Image > Mode > Greyscale’. Then go back up to the Application Bar once again, and this time select ‘Image > Mode > Duotone’.

STEP 3: The basic premise of the Duotone Options Panel, is that you can select the colors that you want to use (by clicking on the color icon), and then change the tone curve (by clicking on the curve icon) for modifying how that color is applied to your image. Photoshop supplies you with a whole set of presets where this has already been set up for you.

Each of these presets stands in its own right, but you can adjust the tone curve settings to tailor them if you wish. To apply a preset, select the pull-down menu labeled “Preset: Custom” at the top of the Duotone Options Panel, and choose a tone that you like. In this example, I chose the PANTONE 527 CVC, and then selected OK to commit the change. Finally, press Command S (on a Mac) or Control S (on a PC) to save your change. You can then close the “Duotone Layer.psb” Tab, which takes you back to your master image.

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