Creating Duotone Gradient Images (Tutorial)

A design trend for 2017 is duotone gradients over images. These are simple to create and provide an easy way to overlay text for social media or other uses.

We’ll create an image like this one.

We’re going to use Photoshop CC, but the process is very simple and can be replicated in most any image editor.

Create a new Photoshop document. I chose Web Large 1920×1080

Find a suitable background image. Look for one that is interesting but doesn’t have too much going on. Landscapes or wide shots are best. Portraits and close-ups are more difficult. is a great place and where I often find great shots.

Drag that image into your PS file and position it as you would like

Add a new Black & White Adjustment layer above your image. (Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Black & White) then adjust the sliders in the Properties panel to suit.

You’re looking to increase the blacks and whites to make the image more dramatic. Think Ansel Adams photography.

For even more drama, we’ll add a Curves adjustment layer (Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Curves) and once again deepen the blacks and bring up the whites.

Now we’re going to add our gradient. Create a new empty layer (Layer -> New Layer)

Choose the two colors for your gradient and make them the foreground and background colors. I chose blue and orange.

Select the Gradient Tool and drag a 45 degree gradient across the center. Be sure to keep the gradient in the middle of the layer, leaving a lot of room for the solid colors on the sides. I find dragging 45 degrees across the middle third of the image is usually good.

Next lower the opacity of the gradient layer in the Layers panel to something that works for you. Around 70-80% is good.

You can also experiment with keeping 100% opacity and changing the blend mode of the layer. You can get interesting results using Overlay, Multiply, Screen, Color Dodge, Linear Dodge, especially. And some very stylish effects with the Difference and Exclusion

Finally add text and overlays. You can choose what you like, I like big, fat sans serifs for the main text, then a line underneath. For the example, I used Nexa Rust Sans for the main line and Gotham Light for the line below. For the anchor, any transparent PNG will work

That’s it! You’re done!

I’d love to see what you’re doing with this simple technique! Send me a note.