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How to Create a Photoshop Sepia Effect Action

Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the old days of black-and-white photography, people used different methods to give different tones to their photos, leading to different photo effects. For example, if you used ink from the sepia cuttlefish, you were able to make the tones warmer, while making the photo more durable.

Today we can use all the colors we want, but sepia toning hasn't lost its appeal! In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a Photoshop sepia effect in the form of a Photoshop action.

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

How to Create a Photoshop Sepia Effect Action

Step 1

Open your photo (I used this one). Make sure it’s on the Background layer. If it’s not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.

create background layercreate background layercreate background layer

Step 2

Open the Actions panel and create a New Action. Name it Sepia Effect.

add enw actionadd enw actionadd enw action

Step 3

Add a Gradient Map adjustment.

add gradient mapadd gradient mapadd gradient map

Step 4

Edit the gradient, adding the following colors in the following locations:

  • At 0% use dark, saturated red (#170400)
  • At 100% use beige (#f6e5d5)
  • At 25% use brown (#6b4e3b)
  • At 65% use bright, low-saturated orange (#c5a989)
  • At 85% use low-saturated beige (#dfcebf)
add colors to gradientadd colors to gradientadd colors to gradient
Click under the gradient bar to add new colors. Then adjust their location.
use code for colorsuse code for colorsuse code for colors
You can type the code for the color here directly.
photoshop sepia effectphotoshop sepia effectphotoshop sepia effect

Step 5

The colors have been turned into sepia toning already, but we can make this effect more convincing by adding a few more tweaks. Create a New Layer and go to Edit > Fill to fill it with black.

add new layeradd new layeradd new layer
fill with blackfill with blackfill with black

Step 6

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

add noiseadd noiseadd noise

Step 7

Press Control-T to resize the noise layer. Make it twice as big. Press Enter when you're done.

resize the layerresize the layerresize the layer

Step 8

Change the Blend Mode to Overlay and lower the Opacity to 10%.

change blend modechange blend modechange blend mode

Step 9

Press Control-Alt-Shift-E to copy the whole composition into a new layer. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen. Adjust the settings to make the bright edges subtly brighter.

smart sharpnesmart sharpnesmart sharpne
make edges brightermake edges brightermake edges brighter

Step 10

Stop Recording.

stop recordingstop recordingstop recording

Step 11

If you want to use this action on any other photo, you just need to click Play. If you want to be able to adjust the settings in the process, mark the steps on the list—the marked steps will make the action pause to let you add your own settings.

pause actionpause actionpause action
photoshop sepia effectphotoshop sepia effectphotoshop sepia effect
photo effects photoshopphoto effects photoshopphoto effects photoshop
photoshop effectsphotoshop effectsphotoshop effects

Photoshop Actions

As you can see, with Photoshop actions you can add cool photo effects to your images without having to repeat all these steps every time. But this also means you can download Photoshop actions made by others and use them without having to do anything at all! Here are a few propositions that you can use to change the toning of your photos.

Film Noir B&W Photoshop Actions

This collection includes six actions, all converting your photos into grayscale in six unique ways. Additionally, these Photoshop actions add more character to the photos by sharpening the details and making them less clean.

Film Noir BW Photoshop ActionsFilm Noir BW Photoshop ActionsFilm Noir BW Photoshop Actions

Monochromatic Photoshop Actions

No matter how great your photo looks in color, sometimes it may look even better in monochrome! This set contains 18 Photoshop actions that will remove the colors from your photo and replace them with different classic tones.

Monochromatic Photoshop ActionsMonochromatic Photoshop ActionsMonochromatic Photoshop Actions

Silvershadow Action

This action was designed to add cold, metallic tones to your photos. You can use it to create an artistic photo effect in seconds!

Silvershadow ActionSilvershadow ActionSilvershadow Action

Duotone Photoshop Action

When one tone is not enough, you can use two tones for really spectacular effects! This set contains 25 actions that work with a single click.

Duotone Photoshop ActionDuotone Photoshop ActionDuotone Photoshop Action

SoVintage Photoshop Action

This set contains 80 different effects. You can use them to give your photos a vintage look with toning, textures, and light leaks. These effects are easy to combine and modify, giving you a chance to create truly unique Photoshop effects.

vintage effect photoshopvintage effect photoshopvintage effect photoshop

Good Job!

Now you know how to create a Photoshop sepia effect action! 

sepia effect actionsepia effect actionsepia effect action

If you want to learn how to create other Photoshop effects, try these tutorials as well:


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