How to Create a Photoshop Sepia Effect Action

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.

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 layer

Step 2

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

add enw action

Step 3

Add a Gradient Map adjustment.

add 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 gradient
Click under the gradient bar to add new colors. Then adjust their location.
use code for colors
You can type the code for the color here directly.
photoshop 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 layer
fill with black

Step 6

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

add noise

Step 7

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

resize the layer

Step 8

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

change 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 sharpne
make edges brighter

Step 10

Stop Recording.

stop 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 action
photoshop sepia effect
photo effects photoshop
photoshop 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.

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