Choose the Correct Photoshop Mode: Duotone - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Choose Image→Mode to view image mode choices available in Adobe Photoshop CS5. Selecting the right one for an image is important because each mode offers different capabilities and results.

Use Duotone mode when you’re creating a one- to four-color image created from spot colors (solid ink, such as Pantone colors). You can also use Duotone mode to create monotones, tritones, and quadtones. If you’re producing a two-color job, duotones create a beautiful solution to not having full color.

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) helps keep printing inks consistent from one job to the next. By assigning a numbered Pantone color, such as 485 for red, you eliminate the risk of one vendor (printer) using fire engine red and the next using orange-red for your company logo.

To create a duotone, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Image→Mode→Grayscale.

  2. Choose Image→Mode→Duotone.

  3. In the Duotone dialog box, choose Duotone from the Type drop-down list.

    Your choices range from monotone (one-color) up to quadtone (four-color). Black is assigned automatically as the first ink, but you can change it, if you like.

  4. To assign a second ink color, click the white swatch immediately under the black swatch.

    The Color Libraries dialog box appears.

    Click the white swatch to open the Color Libraries dialog box.
    Click the white swatch to open the Color Libraries dialog box.
  5. Now comes the fun part: Type (quickly!) the Pantone or PMS number you want to access and then click OK.

    There’s no text field for you to enter the number, so don’t look for one. Just type the number while the Color Libraries dialog box is open.

    Try entering 300, to select PMS 300. You can already see that you’ve created a tone curve.

  6. Click the Curve button to the left of the ink color to further tweak the colors.

  7. Click and drag the curve to adjust the black in the shadow areas, perhaps to bring down the color overall. Then experiment with the results.

  8. (Optional) If you like your duotone settings, store them by clicking the small Preset Options button to the right of the Preset text box. Type a name into the Name text box, browse to a location on your computer, and then click Save.

You can also use one of the presets that Adobe provides. Do this by selecting an option from the Presets drop-down menu at the top of the Duotone dialog box.

Save your duotone by clicking the Preset Options button.
Save your duotone by clicking the Preset Options button.

Click the Preset Options button to find your saved presets. Duotone images must be saved in the Photoshop Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) format in order to support the spot colors. If you choose another format, you risk the possibility of converting colors into a build of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black).