PI6 Two-Color Art Photo Effects

PI6 has a wonderful Two-Color filter which you can put to work for you in creating custom duotones. This tutorial shows how to use a couple of Format and Effect menu commands to create a very cool sepia-tone art photo effect.

two color filter effect

This tutorial incorporates some of the techniques from my Pastel Sketch Tutorial. If you haven't done that tutorial before, you should check it out first so you'll have a good idea about how to complete the last steps in this tutorial. You will also need to have installed the PI6 patch to access the Soft Light Merge method.

Start with a special photo, like this one of my daughter Vicky "reading" her book when she was just a toddler. You will need to work with a True Color image. Open the photo up in PI, then hit Ctrl+D twice to make two duplicates of it. Close out your original image and work on the duplicates. This way you will preserve your original.

The first thing we'll do is reduce the number of colors in one of the images to create a "posterized" look. Choose Format, Level to open the Level dialog box.

Level dialog box

Leave the center thumbnail selected and click OK. You'll see a dramatic change in the photo.

Level applied

Next we'll change the colors to a two color sepia tint. Select Effect, Special, Two-Color to open a related dialog box.

Two-Color dialog box

Press and hold down on the down arrow next to the left color square. When you do, you'll get a rainbow color picker and your cursor will turn into an Eyedropper. Drag the Eyedropper around in the rainbow to select a dark brown color. Do the same on the right color square to select a complimentary lighter color like peach or tan. Note that you could use a dark and light blue, or whatever colors you like, I'm just making a sepia look here. Click here to see the same image in different colors.

If you look at the Two-Color dialog box above, you'll see that there are little triangles beneath the left and right color boxes. They control the saturation of the selected colors. If you drag them farther apart, you will increase the range of shades between them. The default distance tends to be a pretty good choice most of the time, but experiment. If you drag the triangles closer together, the colors become more saturated and closer together, giving you fewer shades.

It's worth mentioning that if you get a good color combination that you love, you can click the Add button and add the preset to your EasyPalette. That way you only have to double click on its thumbnail next time you want to apply this Two-Color preset. When you're satisfied with your colors, click OK. Here's what you've got now.

Two-Color effect applied

This actually looks pretty interesting the way it is, but to get a somewhat softer and lighter look, let's use the techniques I used in my Pastel Sketch Tutorial. Click on the duplicate photo to make it active. Choose Effect, Blur & Sharpen, Emphasize Edges. When the Emphasize Edges dialog box opens, leave the default thumbnail selected and click OK.  This will sharpen up the image a good deal.

Now select Effect, Special, Emboss. When the Emboss dialog box opens, leave the center thumbnail selected but don't click OK. Instead, click Options to open a secondary dialog box. Click in the Coating Color box and select a very pale gray or white. Leave the defaults as they are. Click OK, then click OK again to close the remaining dialog box and apply the Emboss effect.

Hit Ctrl+C to copy the embossed image into the Clipboard. Click on the blue title bar for the sepia image to make it active, then hit Ctrl+V to paste the embossed image on top of the sepia image. You'll see an animated broken line around it that tells you it's an active object. Right click and select Properties to open the Object Properties dialog box. From the General tab, select Soft Light from the Merge dropdown list (arrow).

Soft Light Merge method

If you don't have the Soft Light Merge method, try using Multiply and editing the Transparency to 25 to 50 or so. It will give a similar result, but it will be darker and not as soft looking.

As I noted earlier, you don't have to stick to browns and tans and peaches. The Two-Color filter can create some stunningly unique and beautiful effects with other colors too, like this one.

This tutorial uploaded 7/27/02

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