How to get a nice sepia photo

Jean-Claude Grégoire tells us how to convert a regular grayscale photo into a sepia toned photo.

"For this tutorial I used Adobe Photoshop and the AKVIS Coloriage plug-in."

If you start with a color photo, go to Step 1.

If you start with a black and white photo, go to Step 4.


Turning a color photo into a black and white one

Starting AKVIS Coloriage on the color photo is certainly possible too, but it's more difficult to get a good final result.

For getting an excellent black and white photo I'll explain what I consider the best method, because you remain the master of every parameter. Actually, with the following methods, which are the simplest, you cannot control anything:

As already explained in the AKVIS Coloriage Userguide, chapter "Selective Desaturation", you can get a black and white photo with the plugin. You just have not to use the Keep Color Pencil. The result will be exactly the same as choosing Image -> Mode -> Grayscale from the main menu (incidentally, the methods Hue/Saturation don't give the same black and white result as both these ones).

Another method consists in choosing a Channel (e.g. the red channel, or the green one, etc.) and to eliminate the other ones, but this isn't a quick and easy method and you cannot modify what's in this channel.

So I prefer to use the following method.


Working on the black and white photo


Important notes
  1. Calling the AKVIS Coloriage plugin on a color photo.

    Applying steps 6 to 10 to a color photo (fig. 10), will often give a drab result (as shown on fig. 11), unless you have managed to get a excessive contrast of the color photo. But this is very difficult to estimate correctly, because for a good sepia result this color photo will become ugly (fig. 12). Nevertheless, it is possible to get a good result in some cases with this method too (fig. 13).

    a color photo
    Fig. 10. A Color Photo
    a soft sepia photo
    Fig. 11. A Soft Photo in Sepia

    improve contrast to get a good sepia photo
    Fig. 12. Improve contrast
    to get a better photo
    a sepia toned photo
    Fig. 13. Sepia toned photo
  2. Can we invert step 4 and steps 6 to 10?

    It should be noted that applying the same Adjustment Layer -> Curves (with the same settings as described above, but only on the RGB channel) after colorizing the black and white photo in sepia with AKVIS Coloriage will give a totally different result: much more saturated (fig. 14).

    changing the steps order
    Fig. 14. Changing the order of steps


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