How to Create a Duotone Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Duotone effects are a classic and elegant way to add a touch of style to your photographs. They’re particularly effective for black and white images, as they can add a splash of color without distracting from the image’s overall composition.

Step 1: Prepare Your Image

Before you start applying the duotone effect, you’ll need to ensure that your image is in black and white mode. If your image is already in black and white, you can skip this step. However, if your image is in color, you’ll need to convert it to black and white using the Desaturate command or a third-party plugin.

Step 2: Create a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer

A gradient map adjustment layer is what will give your image its duotone effect. To create one, follow these steps:

  1. Open your black and white image in Photoshop.
  2. Click the “Create a new fill or adjustment layer” icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
  3. Select “Gradient Map” from the menu.
  4. The Gradient Editor panel will open.
  5. Click the gradient preview drop-down menu and select a preset duotone gradient. You can also create your own custom gradient by clicking the “Edit” button and dragging the color stops.
  6. If you’re using a preset gradient, you may want to adjust the position of the color stops to better suit your image.
  7. Click OK to apply the gradient map.

Step 3: Adjust the Duotone Colors

The default duotone gradient may not be perfect for your image. You can adjust the colors by double-clicking on the color stops in the Gradient Editor panel and selecting new colors from the Color Picker. You can also add or remove color stops by clicking on the gradient preview and dragging up or down.

Step 4: Enhance the Duotone Effect

You can further enhance the duotone effect by adjusting the midpoint of the gradient. The midpoint is the point where the two colors are evenly mixed. By moving the midpoint, you can control how much of each color is applied to the image.

Step 5: Add a Layer Mask

A layer mask allows you to control which parts of the duotone effect are visible. To add a layer mask to your gradient map adjustment layer, follow these steps:

  1. In the Layers panel, click the “Add layer mask” icon (it looks like a white circle with a black circle inside).
  2. A new layer mask will be added to the gradient map adjustment layer.
  3. Paint on the layer mask with black or white to control which parts of the duotone effect are visible.

Step 6: Adjust the Layer Mask

You can use a variety of tools to paint on the layer mask, such as the Brush tool, the Eraser tool, and the Gradient tool. You can also adjust the opacity of the layer mask to control how strong the duotone effect is.

Step 7: Save Your Image

Once you’re happy with the duotone effect, save your image in your desired format.

Additional Tips

  • For a more subtle duotone effect, use lighter colors.
  • For a more dramatic duotone effect, use darker colors.
  • Experiment with different gradient presets and custom gradients to find the look that you like best.
  • Use a layer mask to blend the duotone effect with the original image.
  • Adjust the opacity of the layer mask to control the strength of the duotone effect.


Duotone effects can add a touch of style and sophistication to your photographs. With a little practice, you can create stunning duotone images using Adobe Photoshop.