How to Add a Sepia Filter to Your Photos

sepia-filter

Do you want to add a sepia filter to your photos for a warm nostalgic look?

In this article, we’ll show you how to apply a sepia tone to your images using the tools in 4 popular image editing apps.

(We’ve also included one simple way to add a sepia effect using your phone.)

So, even if you’re new to photo retouching, you can transform your modern-day snaps into some vintage-inspired masterpieces in no time!

Let’s get started!

What is Sepia in Photography?

Sepia images have a warm tint to them.

Sepia images have a warm tint to them. Photo editing software can give digital images a sepia effect. | Photo Credit: Hana Mara

Sepia Filter

Sepia filter is one of the most commonly used filters while editing images. Sepia effect adds a warm brown tone to the pictures. Using a sepia filter, the images get enhanced with a warm look whose effect is very calming to the eye. Sepia tone makes the image a bit vintage.

Sepia toning was a process done in film photography that added a warm brown tone to black and white photos during the printing process.

In digital photography, you can add a sepia tone filter that replicates the same effect. These are available in most image editing apps and software – see here for the most popular options.

How to Add a Sepia Tone in Photoshop

Photoshop is a great way to add a sepia tone to your images because you can work non-destructively by using layers. It’s also very easy to do because Photoshop has a Sepia filter effect.

To apply a sepia tone filter in Photoshop:

  • Open your image.
  • Convert photo to black and white (optional). If your image is not black and white, you can convert it at this point. There are several ways to do this; I like to add a black and white Adjustment Layer. This way, you can always come back to adjust the effect later.
  • Add a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer. You can do this by clicking the Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel and choosing Photo Filter from the menu.
  • Set it to sepia. From the properties panel of the adjustment layer, select the option Filter. Then, open the drop-down menu by clicking on the arrow and choose the option Sepia.
  • Adjust the density. Use the Density slider to control how noticeable the sepia effect will be. Keep the Preserve Luminucity option active.

How to Add a Sepia Tone in Lightroom

Using Lightroom, you can apply a sepia effect to your images with just one click. It’s also one of the most beautiful tone filters, in my opinion.

This is the best solution if you need to apply the same look to many photos because you can sync your settings.

To add a sepia toning effect in Lightroom:

  • Import your image into Lightroom.
  • Go to the Presets menu. On the left-hand side of the Develop module, there’s a panel where you can find the Presets. Display the menu by clicking on the arrow next to it.
  • Apply Sepia Tone. From the Preset menu, click on the B&W section, and then choose B&W Sepia Tone. You can apply the preset directly to a color photo without having to desaturate it or turn it to greyscale first. Of course, you’re welcome to do that if you want to try different effects.

How to Add a Sepia Tone in GIMP

GIMP is a free open source program for photo editing. While it doesn’t have as many presets as paid options, it does have a sepia effect inside one of its filters.

To apply the sepia effect:

  • Open your image in GIMP.
  • Apply an Old Photo filter. To find this you need to go to the menu Filter, then click on Decor and choose Old Photo.
  • Adjust the settings. In the Old Photo dialog box, choose Sepia as the effect you want to apply. Then, if you only want the sepia toning and not the rest of the vintage look created by the script-fu, uncheck the Defocus option and set the Border Size to zero. I suggest you enable the option to Work on Copy – this way your original remains untouched. Then click OK and let GIMP do its automatic process.

How to Add a Sepia Tone on your Phone

You can also give your photos a sepia effect using apps on your phone.

You can also give your photos a sepia effect using apps on your phone. | Photo Credit: Maksym Tymchyk

Most iOS and Android apps offer a selection of filters you can use for your photos, including sepia tone filters (even if they sometimes goes under a different name).

Just look for warm filters in any of these apps to turn your photos to sepia. Most of them are free to download, but sometimes you need to pay for premium filters.

iOS

Android

Final Words

Now you know how to apply a sepia filter to your photos regardless of which software you use.

Have fun and share with us any other creative tools that you use to edit your images.

Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.

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