3 Things you Might not Know about Lightroom's Split Toning Panel

You love the look of your favorite presets, but have you ever investigated to see how they're created? Lightroom is a masterful tool and its split toning panel is one of many awesome elements. Here are a few things you might not know about split toning.

3 Things you Might not Know about Lightroom's Split Toning Panel

Where is the Split Toning Panel?

Split toning is located on the right hand side right underneath the HSL panel. (Hint: right click on any of the panels and select "solo mode" if you prefer to open one panel at a time. My OCD thanks me.

3 Things you Might not Know about Lightroom's Split Toning Panel


What Does It Do?

Split toning affects only two parts of your image: highlights and shadows. You can use split toning to warm up or cool down either of these sections rather than adjusting the temperature of your entire image. You can also use split toning to apply an overall color tint. Choose to adjust one or both and select the balance you want between the two.

In other words, you can place a higher emphasis on either highlights or shadows and determining the strength of the effect is as simple as playing with a few sliders. (Hint: when playing around with various presets, you can hit CMD N on a Mac to create a snapshot of your starting point and then you don't have to keep undoing edits or scrolling through the history panel).

The left side here is without split toning, the right side is with split toning enabled. (This image is edited with Aurora Sky from the Summer collection). You can see how enabling the split toning (which is the preset's default state) cools the shadow tones and gives the image a softer, more muted look.

Again, here's another example using Vintage Kiss, also from the Summer set. The left is without split toning and the right is with split toning. The split toning here is used to really warm the highlights and give the image a nice glow.

3 Things you Might not Know about Lightroom's Split Toning Panel

How Do You Use It?

It's easier than you think, I promise! All you need to do is select your hue and then adjust the saturation slider to determine how strong you want the effect to be. You can also adjust the balance slider as mentioned above to determine the emphasis on either highlights or shadows. Give it a try! (Hint: pressing the \ key will show you a quick before image so you can see the difference with the adjustments you've made).

Split toning is utilized in MANY presets as an added layer of customization. I personally prefer it to using the temperature slider in the basic panel because I really love how it targets specific areas. Next time you're applying your favorite preset, take a peek at the split toning panel and see how the magic was made!