Create Chocolate Brown Tones with One Photoshop Layer

This chocolate brown effect is a popular look in the fashion and portrait photography world. Unlike sepia that makes your photo look old and antique, this tutorial gives you a look that’s modern and chic. Best of all, this Photoshop tutorial will show you how to do this with just ONE layer.

Step 1

Open the image that you want to add the chocolate tones to in Photoshop. Here’s the image that we’ll be starting with.

Step 2

In the Layers panel (Window > Layers), click on the New Adjustment Layer button and add a Solid Color layer.

The Color Picker tool will popup and ask you to choose a color. It doesn’t matter what color you set now so just click OK to close it.

Step 3

In the Layers panel (Window > Layers), change the blending mode of this color fill layer to “Color”. The Color blending mode will tell the layer to only affect the color, but not the luminosity/brightness.

Step 4

Doubleclick back into the layer to bring up the Color Picker tool. Make sure you’re double-clicking on the thumbnail.

Pick a neutral brown color. I used the color #403020. You can alter the Saturation (S) setting from 50% to something lower if you want to give it more of a black and white look or higher for more vibrance.

Step 5

Here’s what our image looks like so far. It looks more like a sepia effect and not quite the chocolate brown tones we’re going after.

There are two ways to go about this. The first is to lower the opacity to around 50%. But if this isn’t giving you good results, set the opacity back to 100% and go to the next step.

Step 6

Another way to blend the chocolate brown tones is with luminosity masking. If you know about luminosity masking, this one is a bit different. We won’t be using a layer mask to do this because it’s unnecessary. There’s a simpler way.

First, make sure you set the opacity back to 100%. Then, right-click on the layer and click “Blending Options”.

Near the bottom of the Blending Options tool, you’ll find the “Blend If” section. There’s two gradient bars, you’ll want to edit the bottom one. While holding the Alt key (Option on Macs), drag the bottom-right point towards the left. This will make the point split in half. You must do this to get smooth results.

Drag it all the way towards the left. And when you’re done, click the OK button.

Final Results

You’re done! Here’s a comparison of both of the effects. Lowering the opacity can give you a stronger look that has more of a vintage feel while using luminosity masking gives you more natural results.

Tell us which one you prefer in the comments!

Before
Chocolate Tones with 50% Opacity
Chocolate Tones with Luminosity Masking

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