Creating Old-Time Sepia Photos

Creating Old-Time Sepia Photos

You can create a sepia-toned photograph in Photoshop in several ways:

  • Apply a sepia-toned photo filter.

  • Use the Hue/Saturation command to colorize the photo.

  • Use an action that ships with Photoshop that automatically creates a sepia-toned look for you.

Which works best? Well, which method you use depends upon the qualities of the photograph you’re using and the look you’re after. Open a photograph and try these different methods.

If you want to apply a sepia photo filter, follow the directions for applying a photo filter in “Recoloring with Photo Filters.” In Step 4, choose Sepia from the Filter drop-down list. When you apply a sepia-toned photo filter, the results are a brighter brownish- yellow cast, but retain the original colors in the photograph.

The Hue/Saturation command produces a monotone brownish-red sepia look. Here’s how:

  1. In the Layers palette, select the layer you want to look like a sepia-tone.

  2. Click the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Hue/Saturation from the menu.

    If you want to apply the photo filter command directly to a layer, choose Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation.

    The Hue/Saturation dialog box opens, as shown in Figure.

    Click To expand
    Figure: Use the Hue/Saturation dialog box to adjust the photograph’s tone.

  3. Put a check in the Colorize check box.

  4. Set the Hue to 25 and the Saturation to 25.

    These settings give you a nice-looking sepia color. If you need to, adjust the sliders until you get the look you want.

  5. Click OK to close the Hue/Saturation dialog box and apply the color adjustment to the photograph.

To apply a sepia-tone using an action that ships with Photoshop:

  1. In the Layers palette, select the layer you want to look like a sepia-tone.

  2. Open the Actions palette by choosing Window>Actions.

  3. Open the Default Actions set in the Actions palette, as shown in Figure.

    Figure: Click the tiny arrow next to the Default Actions set to view the actions in that set.

  4. Select Sepia Toning (Layer).

  5. Click Play at the bottom of the Actions palette.

    The action goes to work and recolors your photograph, producing a good-looking sepia-toned photograph.

    Figure shows the original photograph on the top and an aged sepia-toned version on the bottom. I applied a Grain filter set to Speckle to create the old-fashioned outlined look. To access the Grain filter, choose Filter>Texture>Grain.

    Click To expand
    Figure: The original photograph (top) and the sepia-toned aged photograph (bottom).


    You can also use the Photo Corner action found in the Frames Action set to add an interesting photo album border.

Turn to Technique 8 to find out more about actions and loading action sets.

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