A dual tone effect in photography refers to the use of two contrasting colors in a photograph to create a more striking and attractive visual effect. It can be used to create mood or atmosphere and can also be used to draw attention to certain elements in an image.

You can achieve a dual tone effect by shooting with two different colored lights or by post-processing the image to add the desired colors. If you already have a portrait that would look better with Dual Tone Lightning, you can use your smartphone to add the effect. Let us show you how to create a dual tone effect for your portraits using Snapseed.

How to Add a Dual Tone Effect to Your Portraits Using Snapseed

The Dual Tone effect works best with black and white portraits. So, before you start, you’ll need to convert your image to black and white and remove any unwanted elements from the background.

convert your image to black and white

Here’s how to convert your image to black and white using Snapseed.

Open Snapseed and import your image by tapping anywhere on the screen.

Go to Tools > Crop. Crop your portrait with the selected free aspect ratio so you don’t have any unwanted elements in the photo. Press the tick mark when satisfied.

Open Tools > Black & White. Select the Neutral style and adjust the brightness and contrast of your image to highlight facial expressions. Tap the tick mark to confirm your edit.

Next, go to Tools > Tune Image and adjust your image’s brightness, contrast, ambiance, highlights and shadows to make the face look even.

Open Tools > Curves and either bring the left pointer up to make the image white or the right pointer all the way down to make the image black. For our example, it is better to make the background white. Tap on the tick mark to save the edits.

Go to Edit Stack, open View Edits, tap on the last layer ie Curves and select Stack Brush.

Selectively paint over the background area you want to remove with the brush strength set to 100.

Zoom in on your image, change the brush strength to 0, and bring back the parts you don’t want removed. For example, it would be best to keep the details of the hair and outline of the shirt in our sample picture.

The above steps will allow you to effectively add dual tone effect to your image. If you find background removal challenging, try one of these smartphone apps that will remove the background for you.

create dual tone effect

Follow the steps below to create a dual tone lighting effect for your portraits.

Go to Tools > Curves and bring the left slider up to make the image white. Tap on the tick mark to save the edits.

Open Curves again and select the color channel. For example, if you want a red hue, move the right pointer down for the blue and green channels until you get the color you want. Hit the tick mark to save.

Go to the edit stack, open View Edits, and tap on the last layer, Curves. Choose the third option to adjust the Curves layer.

Tinker with different curves to create a different color. For example, if you want blue, bring down the red and green curves.

Pinch in to zoom out the image. Set the brush strength to 100 units and start painting from the outside of the image. Make gentle vertical strokes for even distribution of color.

Zoom in a bit and set the brush strength to 0. Gently remove excess color from the opposite side of the image by making even vertical strokes. Stop when only half of the image is in color.

Go to Edit Stack > View Edits > Double Exposure and open the Stack Brush.

Now, zoom out and repeat the painting process from the opposite side. Clean up any unwanted areas slowly and neatly and tap on the tick mark when you are satisfied with your editing.

That’s it. You have successfully created a dual tone effect for your portrait using Snapseed. The most prominently used features in this method are curves and double exposure. You can learn more about these tools in our Snapseed double exposure guide.

Limitations and Additional Tips

You can always add some final touches to your portraits in Snapseed using tools like HDR-Scape, Glamor Glow and more. We recommend adding a Vignette layer and Glamor Glow to your image as they work best with black and white or dual tone filters.

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