Learn How to Apply Sepia Tint in Adobe Photoshop

The harbor town of Menton, Cote De Azure, 1930
The harbor town of Menton, Cote De Azure, 1930.

 Print Collector / Getty Images

A sepia tone is a reddish brown monochrome tint. When applied to a photo, it gives the picture a warm, antique feeling. Sepia is a Greek word meaning "cuttlefish," a squidlike mollusk which secretes a dark brown ink or pigment. The ink derived from the secretion of the cuttlefish was used as a primitive pigment, although it has been replaced today by modern dyes.

In photography, sepia refers to a brown tint which could occur in photos treated with a gold toning bath. Over time, the photo would fade into the reddish-brown tint we associate with sepia now.

Site visitor Angela wrote in to explain how a sepia-toned photo is created in the darkroom: "Traditional sepia-toned darkroom prints are bleached and re-developed in a sepia developer to produce a warm, brown effect." You can give your modern photos an old-fashioned effect by applying a sepia tint in most photo-editing programs. Here are the color coordinates for a typical sepia tint:

  • RGB: 112, 66, 20
  • CMYK: 39, 69, 100, 41
  • Hex: #704214
  • HSV: 30°, 82%, 44%

Sepia Tint Tutorials: