Sepia tone

Sepia tone

Sepia tone refers to the coloring of a black and white photographic print or motion picture film that has been toned with a sepia toner to simulate the faded brownish color of some early photographs. This process can be simulated using a computer and digital photo-editing software.


Beginning in the 1880s, sepia was produced by adding a pigment made from the Sepia cuttlefish, found in the English channel [Sepia officinalis, the Common Cuttlefish,] to the positive print of a photograph. The chemical process involved converts any remaining metallic silver to a sulphide which is much more resistant to breakdown over time. This is why many old photographs are sepia toned—those are the ones that have survived until today.

Although sepia toning began as a printing method, today it is seen as a genre, much like black and white photography.

Digital sepia tones

Sepia can be produced in many digital cameras and camcorders, or it can be produced in the digital darkroom.

Software, such as Photoshop or The GIMP, offers control over the sepia achieved (there is no single color known as “sepia”—the term covers a range of yellow and brown mixtures). Simpler photo-editing software usually has an option to sepia tone an image in one step.

More sophisticated software tends to implement sepia tones using the duotone feature.

* Adobe recommends setting "Hue = 27 and Saturation = 21" and checking the Colorize box in the Hue/Saturation filter in Photoshop [cite web
title = How To: Create sepia toned images
url =
accessdate = 2007-03-17


The sample photographs below show the process of digitally removing color from a photograph, then converting the black and white image to sepia-tone.

The following are real examples of the three types:

Sepia tones in pop culture

Sepia-toned images are associated with period photography of the 1800s and "that old-time feel". Many photographs of the American Old West were recorded in sepia tones, particularly Edward Weston's photos of Carmel.

The Kansas scenes in "The Wizard of Oz" were in sepia tone, until Technicolor takes over in the land of Oz.

See also

* Sepia (color)
* Monochrome
* Selective color
* Photographic print toning
* List of software palettes — Color gradient palettes section


External links

* [ Sepia toning in Photoshop]
* [ Sepia toning] in the GIMP

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