(The best) Soft Dual Tone Tutorial

Most of the photomanipulations I create have a soft dual tone. Dual tone is actually a colour effect made using the gradients in Photoshop; as a result, your image will look so much better and beautiful than just using one colour.

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The general idea is: change the overall saturation,  add the gradient, correct color on hair and blouse and retouch color details.

To make this effect you have to open in Photoshop the image you want to edit. Duplicate the layer pressing Ctrl + J in your keyboard, now let’s work with the saturation, press Ctrl + U and set it to -50%.

Saturation -50

This is how the model should look now:

Step 1

Create a new layer. In the menu, above, go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient, give two clicks in gradient and the Gradient Editor window will appear. Choose the square filled with white. Below, you can see small arrows; give a double click in the left one to open the Select Stop Colour window. We are going to use a soft pink tone, so type next to the number sign ‘fac3dc’. Click the right arrow to open again the same window. This time choose a soft yellow tone and type ‘f7f6c4’, accept the changes clicking ok.

Gradient Editor

In the Gradient Fill window choose an angle of -40º.

Choose an angle of -40

Now we have to see how looks the image looking, click Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options and in General Blending set the Blend Mode to ‘Soft Light’ and keep the Opacity to 100%. The image is now looking almost perfect, except for some parts of the image like the model’s blouse that has a strange black / yellowish tone and the background looks slightly pale. We have to fix it.

Step 2Create a new layer and fill it with a Black Colour. Go to Blending Options > Blending Mode > Soft light with Opacity 50%. Give more black colour to her blouse only, create another layer and using a soft round brush size 97 px with Opacity: 44% and Flow: 42% start to paint it. Is looking better, now create a layer to darken her hair. Use the colour ‘2d191c’ and paint the hair with the round soft brush using the same size, opacity and Flow. Now the colours fit perfectly.

Dress and hair fixed

Add some digital make-up to the model. Some colour on her lips and some blush will be perfect. Start creating a new layer setting it to ‘Soft Light’ with Opacity 80-84%. Select a round soft brush using ‘ec008c’ Opacity 56% and flow 60 %. Paint her lips.

Tip: It’s very important to pay attention on the colour of her lips, if the photo of the model you’re using has another colour, select it using the Eyedropper Tool and give a click on her lips to get the tone. Make sure that you’re using a soft brush. You can also experiment with the opacity and flow.

Next, create a new layer and sets its mode to ‘Soft Light’, opacity 40%. Use the round soft brush with the same colour, opacity and flow you used for the lips and carefully repaint her blush.

You’ve finished. This is an easy way to add dual tones to your photographs. It also looks wonderful in landscapes. Don’t forget to experiment with other gradient soft tones.

Final Result


Tip: For landscapes, after you’ve added the black layer, repaint the dark areas to give your photograph a professional result.

Colours we used:


This is an animation showing the changes on each step, enjoy!

Dualtone tutorial animation

So… what do you think? Is it easy? I´ll be glad to read your comments.

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