Make It In a Minute: Duotone Effect in Photoshop

Long, long ago, printing anything with a bunch of ink colors was expensive. When you wanted to go beyond monotone but couldn’t afford CMYK, you often turned to a duotone: two contrasting ink colors, such as blue and orange, that added richness to photos and illustrations without breaking the bank. Today, we’re so accustomed to full color that duotones are a refreshing novelty. In Adobe Photoshop CC, you can turn any full-color image into a duotone for print or screens.

Click on the image below to watch the one-minute video.


Step 1. In Photoshop CC, open your photo or download the practice file, called duotone-effect.psd, and open that.

Step 2. Go to the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and click the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon and choose Gradient Map. This will open the Properties panel.

Step 3. Click the gradient preview drop-down triangle to open the Gradient Editor.

Step 4. Start with a basic duotone, such as the preset named Blue-Violet, Yellow-Orange.

Step 5. To change colors, click the gradient preview, and then double-click on a Color Stop to open the color picker and select your desired hue. Click OK. Adjust each Color Stop according to what looks good to you.

Step 6. Adjust the balance between colors by dragging a Color Stop or Color Midpoint to a new position on the spectrum.

Step 7. Add additional Color Stops to the map by clicking directly underneath the gradient. Edit the new stops as needed.

Step 8. Click OK when you’re happy with the image’s appearance.

You’re done!