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Advanced Photoshop Toning

Color, tone, size, resolution for cold offset web

“Really you are telling me there almost 20 steps to toning my images.”

I know this looks daunting and very confusing. If you use the checklist and follow the screen shots, the third time it will be quick and easy. You will have a better understanding of Photoshop and be many levels above toning images.

Open Image

1The first step just like in any process is to open the image by dragging it on the application icon or doing a file open. Most raw images will open in RGB. For this process make sure the image is converted or opened to RGB.

  1. Create a copy
  2. Open in Photoshop
  3. Convert to RGB or leave as is

Color Correct

2 Normally photos are to dark and need to be lightened correctly. When printing to newsprint lighter is better. Using the power of the curve can help. Select the radial that says Pigment/Ink %, this will act as you pull down the curve it will minus. Start at 25% and 75% and come down 4-5%.

  1. Open Curves
  2. Select radial below to Pigment/Ink %. One time setup
  3. Reduce 25% -4/5% Reduce 75% -4/5%

Red, Greens and Yellows

3One of the best tools to adjust color is under adjustments and Selective Color. Each pull down represents a primary color. Use the Red to give skin color, Green to correct grass or trees. Also if there is to much Yellow pull back on the strong color. Normally do not go more than +/- 4-5%.

  1. Image Adjustments Selective Color

Masks and Channels

4 Changing the image to Lab color will help when going to Unsharp Mask. Changing to Lab will allow you to select the L channel (lightness). It contains luminance information. Separating it from the color will be specific to the black and white.

  1. Reduce channels with over color. Red channel add magenta & Yellow for skin tone. Reduce -4/5% in colors that are dominate. Increase for grass tress or water to enhance
  2. Convert image to LAB.
    Image Mode LAB
  3. Select Lightness in channels

Sharpen Image

5 Go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen. The dialogue box shows the image that can be sized with the +/- at the bottom. Clicking on the image can show the shift in Sharpness. Using a default of 125% and 1.5px is a good start. Adjust the amount enough but not to much as to create exaggerated noise.

  1. Filters Sharpen Smart Sharpen
  2. Amount to 125% and Radius to 1.5 px Ok


6 If the image will be running in color, the next step will be to convert the Lab to CMYK. This is found in File>Mode>CMYK. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black are the primary pigments used in newspaper printing. Each percentage of dots creates a color image once combined.

  1. Convert to CMYK.
    Image Mode CMYK
Additional Adjustments

7 The photo is looking good now. We have toned, adjusted and sharpened our subject. Contrast adds detail to any photo. Going back to the curve box and pull down the channel to black. Click the Auto button to make the adjustment. This does typically add to much. Cut the curve hi-point to 95%.

  1. Pull channels down to Black. Click Auto
  2. Reduce curve hi-point to 95%. Adding contrast to the image
Resize and Resolution

8 A Raw image from any digital camera will generate a large physical size with little resolution like 72%. In Publishing a image should be resized. Physical size and resolution. The image should be sized to what it will be placed and a resolution of IE 200%. Depending press capability.

  1. Crop and change resolution.

    Image Image size

  1. Change image size to what it will be placed
  2. Change the resolution to 200%. Twice the amount of – screen used to print the paper. Ask your printer!


9 Saving the final file type is important. This is all based on files submitted to a offfset newspaper. Of all the types of files a .TIFF makes for a better file in layout. JPEG compression does not work well or a PNG, BMP. EPS works best for clipping paths. Use a naming convention for color.

  1. File Save as: opens a dialogue box. This allows you to save the file type. Save images as .TIFF, clipping paths as .EPS. Use a naming convention and _C if color and _BW if Grayscale.
Want grayscale?

10 Using the same worked image you can make this a Grayscale image. Image > Mode > Grayscale. Typically the color is richer and needs to be lightened in Curves. Create a anchor around 50% and reduce 4-5%. Save as .TIFF and rename the file with _bw.

  1. If a black and white version is needed, change color mode to grayscale in order to convert the color to black and white.

    Image Mode Grayscale

  2. Open curves again and lighten the combined channels. Select around 50% and reduce to -45%.
  3. Again use a naming convention possibly the same for the color version just add _BW.

Getting Started…

Have Questions? We have answers.

Give us a call! Our team of experienced press engineers and graphic designers are ready to help you with your pre-press needs.

Call (941) 206-1401 or email

Venice Print Center

200 East Venice Avenue
Venice, FL 34285

Port Charlotte Center

23170 Harbor View Road
Port Charlotte, FL 33980


“Sun Coast Press has been printing our weekly newspapers special sections for over 25 years and I wouldn’t change a thing. They provide high-quality printing, competitive pricing and prompt delivery. The staff members are skilled in their fields and take pride in their work. Most importantly, they go out of their way to take care of their customers.”

Lorin Arundel • co-publisher, Island Sun/The River Weekly News