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Photoshop Elements Articles

Photo Restoration

Cheap Printer Ink

Brushes Series

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Red Eye Series

Sepia Series

The Basics

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Batch Processing

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Photoshop Sepia Tone

For that traditional look...

There are two main ways to achieve a Sepia effect using Photoshop. The first is using a Photoshop Sepia Tone, which is what this article is all about.

Sometimes you may find that the Sepia tone hasn't quite 'got it', and you may want to try a method which gives you slightly more control. You're in luck! I have just the article for you. Read more about Manual Sepia In Photoshop.

If you're already completely confused, and don't actually have a clue what Sepia is, you might want to read my article explaining What Sepia Is.

Photoshop Sepia Tone

Applying a Sepia tone really couldn't be easier. We use layer styles to achieve the effect.

First make sure the 'Styles and Effects' panel is visible. If it is not, go to 'Window - Styles and Effects' to show it. It may be a minimized panel. If so, click on the white triangle to show it.

In the 'Styles and Effects' panel, select 'Layer Styles' in the left-hand drop-down box, and 'Photographic Effects' in the right-hand drop-down box. The panel should now appear as shown below:

Sepia Layer Style

Now all you need to do is select the layer which contains the image you want to Sepia tone, and then click the 'Sepia Tone' layer style. The image should turn brown, as if it was a Sepia photograph.

Layer styles can only be applied to layers, and sometimes you will have a document where the only layer is named 'Background' and is not strictly a layer. If this is the case, Photoshop will display a message box saying "Styles can only be applied to layers. Do you want to make this background a layer?". Click 'Ok', then name the layer, and click 'Ok' again to apply the Sepia effect.


Sometimes images Sepia toned in this way will look a little flat. One additional step that sometimes prevents this is to desaturate the image before applying the layer style.

Select the layer you want to Sepia tone like before, but this time select 'Enhance - Adjust Color - Adjust Hue/Saturation' from the menu. In the dialog box that appears, drag the Saturation Slider all the way to the left, so the image appears grayscale. Then click 'Ok', and apply the Sepia layer style as before.

This may resolve the problem, and it may not. If the image still looks flat, you may want to try a more manual approach to Sepia In Photoshop.


You will of course have noticed that there are other layer styles under the 'Photographic Effects' section too. It is worth experimenting with other toners to see if even more desirable effects can be achieved.

One technique sometimes seen in digital photographic work is called Multi-Toning. This is where more than one tone color is used in the same image. A very simple example is shown below, using an old photo from my family album.

It uses (from left to right) Sepia, Gray Green, Green, Teal and Blue tones.


It may be worth experimenting with Multi-Toning, to see if you can make some interesting pictures.

Kind Regards

Robert Redwood Robert Redwood - Bio
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