How to create a duotone

I must live up to my url and offer how to tips.  This is the first in a series of tutorials (see video below).

For my Digital Color Theory class at Colorado Mountain College, I had to create a duotone image. According to, a duotone is “a halftone reproduction of an image using the superimposition of one contrasting color halftone (traditionally black) over another color halftone.”  If you are not a graphic design or photography whiz, this probably sounds oogli-boogli.  A simple way of thinking about duotones is to breakdown the word, which literally means two colors (tones).  Essentially, a duotone photograph uses only two colors.  Here is an example:

Example of duotone image

by ForrestCroce at en.wikipedia

The only colors used in this photo are blue and black.  By using software such as Photoshop, you can assign colors to tones (blue to lighter tones, black to darker tones) in a black and white photograph.  Instead of being a black and white photograph, more accurately, this picture is now a black and blue photograph.  This can be done to create subtle “cooling” or “warming” effects, and it can also be used for more extreme, illustrative-like effects.  Here is a before and after duotone:

Duotone Before


Duotone After

I’ve always seen duotones but have never understood how they are made…until now.  Learn for yourself:



Filed under Academic, Adobe CS5, Art, Communication, Graphic Design, How to tips

4 responses to “How to create a duotone

  1. Merely wanna comment on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the content is real excellent : D.

  2. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

    • jordan.callier

      Thanks Alden…I will definitely try to include more photos in future “how to” posts. Please don’t hesitate to message me, if you have any questions…

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