Split toning using gradient map on GIMP

I had a problem, but then I found a simple solution, which I actually already knew… What I wanted to achieve is a step by step approach how to tone a picture with two colors, one for dark areas, and another for light areas. This is called "split toning", and there are number of ways to do that. Easiest way on GIMP is to install a script for it, but I wanted to find a way to quickly select my own preset colors.

What I already knew is how to use different gradient maps on GIMP. But what I had not yet tried is to create a gradient map of my own. I'm not sure if this is the best way to do it, but here is how it goes…

  • Open the gradients dialog under layers.
  • On bottom toolbar under gradients, click 'New gradient'.
  • On opened dialog, hold the cursor on gradient map, and click secondary mouse (right click).
  • Now you should have menu where you can define the 'Left endpoint color…' and 'Right endpoint color…'.
  • After you have defined the endpoint colors for a new gradient map, give it a name, and hit 'Save' button on bottom.
  • If you want to change something, then just hit 'Edit gradient button'.

Now you are ready to use your new gradient map. Instructions for this I have already explained before, but here it comes again, slightly modified for this purpose:

  • Duplicate the base layer and make sure the duplicate is selected.
  • Change the duplicate layer into black and white from GIMP to menu by selecting 'Colors > Desaturate…' and choose 'Average'.
  • Change the mode of that layer for 'Soft light'.
  • Open the gradients dialog under layers.
  • Choose your just created gradient map.
  • Then from GIMP top menu, select 'Colors > Map > Gradient map'.

You can also change the base layer into black and white, or go on with a toned color picture. EDIT: Here is also screen capture on how to build up your own gradient map.

And what my goal was is to give somewhat brownish (sepia) tone for dark areas, and blueish tone for light areas. This can be achieved by setting Red=255, Green=144 Blue=0 for left endpoint, and Red=0, Green=204 and Blue=255 for right endpoint.

There are two different approach on this. One point of view is to set the shadows to warm brown and highlight to blue. Explanation for this is to bring warm dark ground on landscape pictures closer, and light blue sky further away from the viewer. Another point of view is to define split tones the other way round, because dark shadows are often blueish. So, the light areas then should be brownish. However, I personally like the previous approach more.

After all, this way it is actually much easier to create a sett of of own gradient maps and use them for split toning. For PhotoShop users there is similar method explained by Andrew Gibson. Just scroll that article till you get to chapter 'Split Toning Using Gradient Map'.


4 thoughts on “Split toning using gradient map on GIMP

  1. Two more tips for GIMP users:1) You can use GIMP to take screenshot on Ubuntu/Lubuntu/etc.: 'File > Create > Screenshot'.2) If you use GIMP in some other language than English, and you need to run version in English to get examples and instructions like me here, then start GIMP in terminal by giving command:

    LANGUAGE=en gimp
  2. Sami could you tell me if I can use GIMP like photoshop for scrapbooking? I mean to make several layers.

  3. Originally posted by Olgita:

    I mean to make several layers.

    Of course ๐Ÿ™‚ That is what I did for example here to make the split toning. See the screen shot image above. There on right is the layers box. There you multiply layers and change layer modes. Or you can import other images into new layers and do kind of multiple exposure images. See my latest images as an example on multiple exposures here and at Shoot & Tell. There is actually option to open several images as new layers, and you can give layers "alpha channel" (transparency) if you just want to cut areas away.Many say GIMP is more complicated to use than PhotoShop. Even I thought so at first. But once you get used to it, then it is not so difficult after all.

  4. Oh I should try it then… One day I set it up on my pc but then used free version of Photoshop… Now photoshop is lost and I dont want to buy it so will try to use GIMP ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚


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