Matte Split Toning Photo Effect Photoshop Tutorial

everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics
back again with another tutorial. This time I’ve got a photography themed tutorial where
we’ll be using Photoshop to create a cool photo effect that mimics some of the authentic
effects photographers used to create back in the analogue days of photography, before
the days of digital processing. The two effects we’ll be combining are split
toning and the matte look, which are really trendy styles at the moment thanks to filters
such as Instagram, but you can also see these kind of effects all over fashion shots and
hipster style culinery food photos. In the olden days before you plugged your
camera into your computer and downloaded your images, you had to process your camera film
using various chemicals in a darkroom. Before Photographers could mess around with Photoshop
Blending Modes they would experiment with chemical toners to produce different colours,
which is where all the popular digital cross processing effects come from. Other effects also used to come from using
different films and paper. One effect we’ll be mimicking in this tutorial is the washed
out low contrast look from printing onto matte paper, but that’s enough of the history lesson
for now, let’s get started and I’ll talk through the effects as we go. Open up your chosen image in Adobe Photoshop.
The easiest way to produce this matte effect is by adjusting the Levels. Add a Levels Adjustment
Layer by selecting it from the icon at the bottom of the layer panel. This will allow
us to non-destructively edit the image, unlike the standard Image>Adjustment>Levels tool. Drag the shadows handle of the bottom slider
inwards to reduce the contrast of the image and weaken the blacks to give the photo a
cool washed out look. Then darken the shadows by dragging the normal shadows and midtone
handles inwards on the main histogram. With just this one step we’ve already created
a popular effect that is used on those trendy high fashion ads, but let’s make a few more
tweaks. Now, black and White photography was much
more common than colour photography, and it also creates much more moody photos. Add a
Black and White adjustment layer to take out all the colour while retaining the contrast
of the image. One of the most popular analog effect is split
toning, where the print is bleached with a sepia toner, which gives that classic vintage
brown look, followed by selenium, which affects the darker shadows to give the image a harsh
mix of bluey greys and orangey yellow tones. The result is a dejected mood which works
great with photographs of abandoned ruins or any scene you want to have a gloomy feeling. To create this effect, add a Curves Adjustment
Layer in your Photoshop document. Change the drop down menu to the Blue channel,
then we want to increase the blues in the shadows but decrease them in the highlights.
So grab the start and end points of the curves graph and move them upwards for the shadows
but downwards for the highlights. The highlights are looking a little bit too
greeny now, so switch to the Green channel and bring down the amount of green in the
highlights by adjusting that curves graph. The effect is almost there, but it looks a
little bit too purple, so switch to the Red channel and bring down the red in the shadows
to move the hue slightly further towards blue. Finally, no analog style photo effect would
be complete without a touch of film grain. Go to Layer>New>Layer and change the Mode
to Overlay, then check the Fill with 50% grey option. Go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise and configure
the settings to 10%, then check the Gaussian and Monochromatic. So just those few steps finishes off the washed
out matte split toning effect in Photoshop. If you enjoyed this tutorial I’d really appreciate
a thumbs up on YouTube to help spread the word. Otherwise you can see more by subscribing
either on YouTube or on my website at for plenty more design tutorials for Photoshop
and Illustrator. If you make use of this tutorial yourself
I’d love to see your results on Twitter to @chrisspooner, otherwise thanks for watching
and I’ll catch you all later.


  1. Connor April 21, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    Great job I love your tutorials

  2. MrMirofl [Purcy aka Cusor] April 21, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Nice vid 🙂

  3. Andy Foster April 22, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Thanks for subtitling the video. Much appreciated!

  4. teleportkontrola2006 April 22, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks Chris, clear and useful as always !

  5. Ali B April 23, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    Thank you. Love your stuff.

  6. Miguel Díaz April 26, 2015 at 3:18 am

    Damn! Man, I love your accent. Nice tutorial by the way

  7. aym313 April 27, 2015 at 4:07 am

    Thank you for this tutorial, you sound like a news reporter 🙂

  8. GALACTIC SQUID May 1, 2015 at 6:54 am

    @Spoon Graphics pls dont stop Makin videos
    Love em!
    An hey can you make a tutorial about how to take a prop or something from one picture and copy it to another?

  9. Ahmed Faris June 1, 2015 at 7:07 am

    Thanks for this great video. I would like you to create a video about fashion editorials pls.

  10. abicon1 September 2, 2015 at 4:18 am

    Great Chris any chance you could do another one showing how to use the curves adjustment layers to create the industrial landscapes you showed…they were wicked. Thanks for all your helpful!

  11. Dan Soma December 23, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    That photograph is SO good to begin with you could rub shit all over it and it'd still look amazing!

  12. Mathew Tersago May 18, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Again, Great tutorial.

  13. Szochaa September 12, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Great work! I am wondering if u can achieve exactly the same effect in lightroom?

  14. Andres Garcia September 13, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    Nice one man!

  15. Matthieu Mercinier October 13, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Is it not much more easier to do this with the gradient map tool?

  16. Oleg Borisov November 11, 2016 at 9:52 am

    1. use gradient map instead of curves
    2. use highpass filter for dublicated layer with overlay blending mode, if you have not enough detailied photo as in example

  17. Spoon Graphics November 2, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Join my mailing list at Spoon Graphics if you want to keep up with all my other content. Every subscriber gets a FREE design resources bundle! 📦

  18. Ian Skrivarnik June 13, 2018 at 9:54 am

    I really really love the way you always give some inside into the history of every effect you do. I love it

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