How to make a DuoTone

DuoTones are very effective ways to get impact from images even if you are printing in only 2-colors. But you can use them in 4-color process too.

DuoTone exampleCreating a duotone is pretty easy these days, but there are a few steps to keep in mind so things go smoothly when we output your files.

First, if your job is 2-color your duotone needs to be in those two colors. You can make a duotone in Photoshop, Quark or InDesign. The first step in making a duotone in any of these programs is to start with a black & white or grayscale image. Tiffs tend to work best if you are doing the duotone in Quark or InDesign.

Photoshop. Open your image and make sure it is Grayscale, if not you will need to change it. You do this under Image > Mode > Grayscale. Once the image is grayscale, you will notice that under that same menu you can now select DuoTone, and you should do that. A duotone options box will appear. Note that you can do Monotones (1-color), Duotones (2-color), Tritones (3-color) and Quadtones (4-color). All of these terms refer to the number of spot colors you can use in the photo. We are talking about duotones, so make sure that is what is selected in the drop down menu, and you should only have 2 colors in the pallet. Now make sure those 2-colors are the colors you need for your job (we will use Black & PMS 136). You select the colors by clicking on the block of color in the dialog. This brings up the color picker, you should select a color from the appropriate color library. Once you have selected your colors the picture will reflect the new colors. Depending on what colors you are using the picture may be too dark, you can adjust that using the controls in this dialog box. Next to the color block is a box with a line through it, click on it. This brings up a new dialog box called a Duotone Curve. You will see a grid on the left with a line through it, the line represents the amount of color in the image from light (left side, highlight) to dark (right side, shadow). If you click on the line a new point will be added, you can click and drag these points around on the grid, and that affects the amount of color in the image. Typically you will click in the center of the line and drag it down a little, this reduces the amount of color in the “midtones” of the image causing it to brighten, try it, if you don’t like the results move the point or click Cancel and nothing will change on the original image. Once you are happy, you can click on OK. If everything looks good, then click OK on the Duotone Options dialog box. We have a suggestion at this point, if you save the image as a Photoshop document (.psd) you can open it later and make adjustments to the color. When you save it as a jpeg, eps or tiff, you won’t be able to come back and make changes. Both Quark and InDesign allow you to place Photoshop.psd files in your layout, so we suggest that you do that.

Quark. In Quark you need to place your grayscale picture on the page in position. Once that is complete, select the picture box with the Content tool. In the Color Palette box you will see a series of icons just above the color listing they are Frame Color, Picture Color, Picture Background Color, and Background Color. The two that control the Duotone look are Picture Color and Picture Background Color, you can assign your colors here and then use the Shade Percentage to adjust the amount of color in the image.

InDesign. In InDesign you will need to place your grayscale image and position it how you want it. Then you can color the image with your two colors. You can do this using the two pointer tools, using the Selection Tool (the dark pointer) you can change the 2nd color of the image, in our case that would be adding the PMS 136, the Direct Selection Tool (white pointer) will allow you to change the color of the image. You can again use the color palette to change the Tint of the color to lighten either one if necessary.

Is there an advantage to using Photoshop, Quark or InDesign? It depends on the photo and your level of ability. In Photoshop you have much more control over how the color is applied to the image. Quark and InDesign are quicker and simpler ways of achieving the effect. So if your image is good or you don’t need an artistic effect, then Quark or InDesign would be acceptable, if you need a great deal of control or what to do something very striking with the image, then use Photoshop.

Also remember, if you are making a 2-color PDF of your file for printing, you need to make sure your color settings are correct. Or all of this work will be for nothing. Visit next week for our article on Spot Colors and PDFs.

If you have any questions about how to handle duotones, then call your salesperson or CSR and they will be able to assist you.

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One Response to How to make a DuoTone

  1. Pingback: Please don’t build your files in printer spreads « Connecting the Dots

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