In simple words, split toning is the process of adding different color tints to the shadows and highlights of a black and white image. The technique can also be used to improve appeal of color images, but usually, it is used in black and white ones.
Split toning is the process of dividing the lights and darks of an image and coloring these aspects of the image independently. However, the process will not affect brightness, or the amount of whites and shadows in an image, but just the color.
Types Of Split Toning
Split toning can be used to add some really dramatic effects to the image, or offer a nice retro feel to it. The use of split toning in photo retouching services can be separated to two main categories: Discrete and Powerful. Let us look at both the process in brief.
Discrete – As Extension Of White Balance
The technique can be used to give images a warm feel to it. In normal cases, white balance control is used to emulate the warmth, but this would affect the complete image, that is, both shadows and highlights.
Making use of split toning as an extension of white balance, photo editors can make a discrete color cast which can affect only the shadows in the image, leaving highlights unaffected. In this way, the dark areas of the image can be warmed up and the highlights will be left unaffected.
Powerful – Cross Processing
Digital cross processing can be used to get strong images that convey a real cool atmosphere. Split toning, combined with cross processing can be used to set different colors for both shadows and highlights.
The key here is to match the colors playing with the proper white balance. Yet again, it is very important not to overdo it; else, the image will be unattractive.
It is true that making a scene warm or cold can have a great impact on the way the image is perceived, but with split toning, the image perception can be taken to the next level. An image can be changed remarkably by using split toning and many of the photo editing services makes use of abnormal white balance settings to creatively improve the images.