Capture NX 2 Split-Toning Effect

Pete the Dog, after a standard B&W Conversion in Capture NX 2
Pete after receiving his split-toning treatment.

I recently started playing around with color toning effects on black and white images in Capture NX 2. After my black & white workshop last week, one of the questions was how to create split-toning effects.

Split-toning is a traditional darkroom technique for black and white images where the paper is dyed one color, and the silver emulsion is toned a different color. The paper toning shows through in the image highlights, while the silver toning shows through in shadows and midtones.

I wondered if I could re-create this effect using just Nikon’s Capture NX 2 software. As it turns out, with prudent use of the Colorize filter and leveraging the “Darken” and “Lighten” blending modes in the Opacity Mixer, you can make your own custom split-toning effects. It’s not quite as straightforward as using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro, but it works and it’s done in a non-destructive editing environment.

Here’s a short training video that I posted to YouTube to bring you up to speed on this technique.

5 thoughts on “Capture NX 2 Split-Toning Effect”

  1. Thanks for sharing this trick, Jason!

    Nice timing too, I googled for duo/split toning for NX2 in the beginning of March, and didn’t find anything useful. 🙂

    I came up with another technique similar to yours, but with some differences. My approach produces Lightroom-style duotoning where white still stays white (and black black), but light and dark tones get different toning:

    Here’s what I came up with:

    1) Black-and-white conversion
    – Nothing special about this step

    2) Toning for the dark areas (this tones light areas too, but step 3 eliminates that)
    – Photo Effects / Tinted, normal opacity and blending
    – Nothing special here either, it tints the whole image with a colour, keeping white white

    3) Toning for the light areas (this is the actual trick)
    – Photo Effects / Tinted, opacity set to Luminance&Chrominance, luminance=0%, chrominance=100%, blending mode overlay
    – This step can be used to tint the light areas, while keeping the shadows close to what they became in step 2
    – Brightness slider can be used to control the transition between darks and highlights (without affecting brightness of the image, since luminance is set to 0 in blending modes). Sliding brightness to left (negative) colours lighter and lighter colours with the dark tint. (Sliding brightness to right doesn’t really work, since it starts eliminating the light tint from the bright end.)

    The selected colours and their strengths do affect each other somewhat, but since NX2 is non-destructive, it’s quite easy to interactively tweak the sliders until you get what you want.

  2. Nice sharing, thanks a lot !!

    I have one question though, one is the point setting the Luminance to 70% ?
    As I understand, this is the limit between the darker part coloured blue and the brighter part coloured yellow…

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