Duotones - Spring and Neon

Duotones - Spring and Neon - student project

High time to brush up on my Photoshop skills, I decided to make some experiments following Evgeniya Righini-Brand's excellent masterclass on duotones. Thanks for a fun and info-packed couple of hours!

I started out with an illustration from the British Library's collection on flickr (a great public domain resource), and proceeded to bring out the contrast as much as possible.


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I proceeded to gather inspiration for some initial colours to use based on Evgeniya's suggested starting points.


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Then followed one of the most fun parts—trying out hundreds of colour combinations! Using the adobe extension was new for me, and really interesting to learn, it's definitely a resource I'll be using in the future. I've also taken the opportunity to organise all my swatches and panels more efficiently. I never though before to add a small area of white into the gradient as a highlight, I think it really makes the images stand out (tritones are certainly worth a look into as well).

A few of my favourite combinations are below.


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I also tried variations, like adding lighter parts to the gradient, removing backgrounds, and painting on the gradient by hand. Some of the effects remind me of split fountain printing—I'll admit, I may have stepped from "duo" to "trio" (or quad or quint) tone…


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My final experiment was to use multiple images for an overprint effect. I like this a lot, and hope I can find a good way to use it soon.


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I had also tried cutting the bird out, but didn't like the very blunt feel as much. In the end, I compromised by using layering to give it more visual depth. I think the design below would be a nice starting point for a poster, album cover, web page etc. I considered adding text, but wanted to keep it simple, and quite liked the cut off effect of the latin name that was already there, so made it a feature.

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I really like the subtle colours and simple layout of this result, but found myself yearning for something garish, bright and tacky. I started researching art deco and 80s Miami style; cliché, perhaps, but it ticked the boxes.


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This attempt was a little different as I based it off a photograph. I also added a small highlight, to simulate both light hitting the roof and a registration printing error. A few more iterations and I might be able to get it as bright as I'd hoped!


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I'm looking forward to using this technique in my day to day work, though I'm sure in a more subtle and legible way.

Thanks again to Evgenlya for a great class, if you haven't tried it yet I'd recommend taking a look. As always, feedback is more than welcome!


Ellen Covey

ellencovey.comtwitter.com/coveyellen • instagram.com/coveyellen


Freelance Graphic Designer