Split toning is an effect which involves assigning different colors to the shadows and the highlights of an image to produce a unique look. Typically, using opposite colors for each –cyan and red, magenta and green, yellow and blue– produces the best results. Here’s how to use Lightroom’s Split Toning tool to set the colors, adjust the strength and balance out the effect to add a touch of lavender to an image.

Rest all values to zero

To ensure previous settings will not interfere with our new look, click on the Development module and reset all values to zero. This step can be skipped once we create the “Touch of Lavender” preset. You could take the time and go through each setting or download the Reset preset we created in “Create a Lightroom Reset Preset.”

Creating a Split tone effect

Step 1: Develop the image

Click on the Basics panel and develop the image. These are the settings I used for an outdoor shot taken with available light and fill flash.

Step 2: Create a split tone

Skip to the Split Toning panel and set the color of the Highlight tone (Hue) by clicking on the swatch and selecting a golden color: 42. Adjust the strength (saturation) to a low value of 12 percent. Click off the tool to lock in the change. Select a purple color for the shadows with the value of 278 and a strength of 20 percent.

(Optional) Balancing the effect

Set the balance slider to balance the effect between the Highlight and Shadow sliders. Positive values increase the effect of the Highlight sliders; negative values increase the effect of the Shadow sliders. For this example, leave the value set to 0 for an even balance.

Step 3 Adjust the Saturation in the HSL panel

Click on HSL and select the Saturation tab. Add a little more red to the image by moving the slider to the right: +11 value. Remove a little orange from the subject’s face by decreasing the value to -9. 

Step 4 Fade the shadows slightly using the Tone Curve

Click on the Tone Panel and select the bottom left point. Move the point up slowly to soften the shadows.

Create a preset

Once you are happy with your settings, create a preset by selecting New Preset from the development menu. This will save time by not having to recreate the preset to use it on another image.

Before and After images