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  • fabiannevanschaik

Design Trends 2017: Stunning Duotones

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

Make your images pop through bold use of contrasting duotone colours.

A duotone is a cool effect that combines the use of two colours in a photo.

This popular trend has been around for a while (circa 2015) in the music industry with Spotify being the trendsetter. Bold use of colour mixed with stunning photography to create edgy and in your-face-designs. It makes a strong statement and it’s instantly recognisable.

Via Spotify

Thanks to Spotify this trend is growing in popularity with many brands adopting this striking and high impact look.

Duotones go hand in hand with the Bold Colour trend as more brands are moving away from flat, safe and simple colour schemes.

Duotones are eye-catching and versatile with limitless colour combinations. For a high impact effect you can use brighter and unexpected contrasting colours or for a less dramatic effect you can look at using subtler contrasting colours.

Adding a duotone colour combination to imagery allows you to stay more on brand. Duotones look amazing on all kinds of designs: branding, posters, business cards, web designs, etc.

Here are a few examples to draw inspiration from:

How to Create a Cool Duotone Effect in Photoshop

Creating a duotone requires Photoshop skills but the effect is easy to create using a Gradient Map.

First choose a high-quality image. Duotones work on all types of imagery but are especially effective on photos of people.


Open up your image in Photoshop. From the main menu, click on Layer, click on New Adjustment Layer, and click on Black & White. Converting your image to Black & White before applying a duotone effect will make your image more vibrant. 


From the main menu, click on Layer, click on New Adjustment Layer, and click on

Gradient Map.


In the Gradient Map window, double-click on the gradient colour bar. This will bring up the Gradient Editor window.

In the Gradient Editor you will see a color bar in the middle under the Gradient Type section.

Double-click on the stop on the left side of the slider. This will open the Color Picker (Stop Color) window where you can add the first colour of your duotone. Here I’ve added the colour R=148 G=11 B=138, click OK. The left side of the scale allows you to replace the colour of the shadows.


Double-click on the stop on the right side of the slider to bring up your second Color Picker (Stop Color).

Here I’ve added the colour R=162 G=245 B=203, click OK. The right side allows you to replace the colour of the highlights. For best effect choose contrasting colours for each end of the gradient scale.


You can move the left and right gradient sliders to adjust the strength of the duotone.


From the main menu, click on Layer, click on New Adjustment Layer, and click on Brightness/Contrast. 

Move the contrast slider to around 30, click OK.

And you’re finished!! 

There are limitless colour combinations to try out. Play around and experiment with different combinations to create cool effects.

For colour ideas and inspiration check out COLOURlovers an online community for colour enthusiasts. Here are some of my favourite colour schemes from this site...

Hurricat CLAD Day

Techno Surfer


Forever Lost

Love in an Elevator


Hello July


Hippie Van




Berry Chewing Gum

Surf Bunny RC

Walking on Sand

Watashi no Doll



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