How to Create a Non-Destructive Sepia Tone Effect With GIMP

Add an antique feel to your photos

Before you add a sepia tone effect to an image in GIMP, make sure you apply it to a separate layer so that you can keep the original in case you change your mind later.

Instructions in this article apply to GIMP 2.10.12 for Windows and Mac.

How to Add a Sepia Tone Effect in GIMP

To add a sepia tone effect to a photo in GIMP:

  1. Open the image you want to work with in GIMP.

    Open the image you want to work with in GIMP.
  2. Select the foreground color swatch and choose a reddish-brown color, then select OK.

    A screenshot of GIMP's Change Foreground Color window with the OK button highlighted
  3. Go to Layer > New Layer.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the New Layer command highlighted
  4. Click the box beside Mode and choose Color erase.

    A screenshot of the New Layer window in GIMP with the Mode menu and Color Erase option highlighted
  5. Click the box beside Fill with and choose Foreground color, then select OK.

    A screenshot of the New Layer window in GIMP with the Fill With menu and Foreground Color option highlighted
  6. Make sure the brown fill layer is still the selected layer in the layers palette, then go to Colors > Hue-Saturation.

    If you don't see the layers palette, go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Layers to make it visible.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the Hue-Saturation command highlighted
  7. Move the Hue and Saturation sliders until you are satisfied with the sepia tone, then select OK.

    A screenshot of the Hue-Saturation window in GIMP with the Hue and Saturation sliders highlighted

You can now save your photo as a .xcf file or export the image to a different format. When you export the image, all of the layers will be merged, but you can go back and edit the .xcf file if you want to remove or adjust the filter without affecting the original photo. If you want to view only the original image, select the eye icon on the layers palette next to the color fill layer to hide it.

A screenshot of GIMP with the layer visibility button highlighted