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Duotone, quadtone, faux colour high key?


ElizabethM

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I just learned about duotone, quadtones and faux colour high key in one of my Photoshop lessons but I don't actually understand what are the purpose for the last two. Could somebody who knows a little bit about it explain it to me?

If what I understood was correct duotone images are handy for black and whites because to print a greyscale image will leave it rather plain, while something with a touch of colour adds more contrast to even a black/white effect. But where does quadtones and faux colour high key comes in? Because frankly from the effect that was show I don't find faux colour high key nice looking and quadtones while impressive, seems rather weird if you'd want to print your image with the shadows having tints of colour (like prominent blues/greens/ect).

Am I even making sense? I hope I am because this lesson left me a little lost! :shocked::neutral:
 

Tom Mann

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The original reason for using duotones was simple economics:
"Duotones are often used in the printing world where a photograph is included in a publication and where the publisher wants to use some color on the page but not pay for full color printing." (http://digital-photography-school.com/convert-duotones-photoshop/ )

However, duotones have become one of the standard tools for graphic designers who want a dramatic, edgy graphic look. Just go to Google Images and search on {duotone design} and you'll see many examples where this technique has been used for effective communication, quite independently of the original cost benefit.

Photography is a different story compared to graphic design. You will see lots of examples of people who initially play with the duotone technique to give an absolutely nutso, exaggerated look to their conventional continuous tone B&W photos. Some people think this is art. Maybe, coupled with other factors, it is, but this is probably what you reacted negatively to. However, IMHO, most serious B&W photographers move on from this point, and use duo, tri and quadtones to impart more subtle effects to their B&W images, with quadtones being able to impart the most subtlety. Here are two examples of this:
http://static.photo.net/attachments/bboard/003/003mCg-9542484.jpg
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-...,0000210fffcefa0f/lauren-quadtone_JJE3396.jpg

And, here's a very nice tutorial on quadtones that show the variety of effects one can get, discuss some of the pros and cons, etc.:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AerxJgOvb1E&feature=colike

Note that there are many different ways to create quadtones and similar effects besides the native tools provided in PS. The above tutorial was from Topaz. Tiffen DFX has a very nice mode where you can set different tint colors, contrast, etc. in each of ten(!) tonal ranges, harkening back to Ansel Adam's historic "zone system".

Among high-end B&W photographers probably the best known use for quadtones is in printing. Low end, conventional inkjet printers have only four inks, CMYK. Go up a bit in price and you will see printers that use a few more colors, eg, two shades of black, maybe a couple of different magentas, etc. Among high-end B&W print afficionados and simply people with good eyes, none of these inkjets does as good a job on B&W prints as an old-fashioned B&W print made in the darkroom.

To satisfy the desire to do better, companies started putting out kits (ie, inks and software) that generally goes under the name, Quadtone Raster Image Processing (RIP) system. With these, instead of having only one or two black inks, they supply 4 or more gray and black inks and can achieve absolutely beautiful prints that compete will with prints make in the darkroom. There has been a huge amount of material written about this, and while it's somewhat of a nich, high-end market, Quadtone RIPs are probably not going to go away.

Here are links to two companies that sell Quad Tone RIP (raster image processor) systems:
http://www.quadtonerip.com/html/QTRoverview.html
http://www.americaninkjetsystems2.com/learningcenter/anytone_beyond_quadtone.html

HTH,

Tom M
 

Tom Mann

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PS - I forgot to respond to your question about a false color high key look. All I can say is that there are times when one needs that sort of look, and other times when the customer would walk out the door if you presented it to them. IMHO, it's just another technique to keep in your back pocket, but it probably won't see anywhere near as much use as other, more general techniques such as color correction and more conventional color grading.
 

ElizabethM

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Holy crap Tom, that was SO helpful it's unbelievable. Thank you! I now totally understand the use and need for all the tones. In fact after doing what you suggested and Googling some of the designs, I found myself actually liking some of the effects (still not keen on high key though). I think my tutorial just didn't apply it to a good-looking photograph. That may be the case.

So to summarise (just to see if I understood everything): Duotone came by chance due to the economy but has slowly evolved into a various number of tones targeted by photographers/designers for a more dramatic and edgy effect. Quadtones become useful for high end B&W photographers especially because some printers now cater to the market with a custom Quadtone RIP kit.

Is that the basics to the whole topic? I hope I understood it correctly. Haha now if you'd excuse me I'm off to go learn about Ansel Adam's Zone System. This is the first I've heard of it. Haha
 

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