Orange and Teal style has become increasingly popular on social media in the last couple of years – this colour palette has literally surged over Instagram.
This look is generally achieved by split toning oranges or yellows into the highlights, and blue or teals into the shadows, creating contrast by using these complementary colours to add depth to your image.
In this tutorial, I will teach you how to easily (in just a few steps) edit your images.
I will cover multiple photo editors, both free and premium:
- Instagram’s photo editor
- Android’s photo editor
- Mobile Lightroom
- Desktop Lightroom
- Luminar 4
- ON1 Photo Raw 2020
Why Orange and Teal?
Why particularly Orange and Teal? Why not another set of complementary colours, like red and green, or yellow and red? There are a few reasons why orange and teal combination is preferred over other combinations.
To help you better understand why this particular colour palette works so well, we first need to delve deep into colour theory.
Complementary colours are pairs of colours which, when combined or mixed, cancel each other out by producing a grayscale – black or white. (Source)
When you put complementary colours together, they create the strongest contrast for those two colours.
In the traditional RYB colour model, where the primary colour are red, yellow, and blue, the complementary pairs are:
Orange and teal have the highest contrast
On the colour wheel, orange and teal are opposite to one another. What is more, if you check the greyscale version of the colour wheel, you’ll notice that the contrast between their exposures is higher than any of the other complementary colour combinations.
This adds an additional depth to your shots, which helps your brain better recognize objects.
It Replicates Golden Hour
So-called “golden hour” is the hour right after the sunrise and right before sunset (preceded, and succeeded by the blue hour, respectively), when the Sun is still low on the horizon and the contrasts are low. These two hours of the day are worshipped amongst the (landscape) photography community.
Orange and teal colour palette mimics this effect to an extent, especially when combined with decreased contrast and faded blacks.
Close to Human Skin Colour
By editing images in Orange and Teal style, the highlights become orange and shadows become teal.
Pushing teal into the shadows will make skin tones stand out from the rest of the image, and your model will be visually separated from the background, while the skin will have a warm feel.
Warm colours – red, orange, and yellow – are the colours of sunsets and sunrises, the autumn leaves, fires, and generally convey passion, energy, and positivity.
Orange, the warm colour of the Orange and Teal style, is a very vibrant and energetic colour, and because it is associated with changing seasons, it can represent change and movement. It is also associated with creativity.
Cool colours on the other end – green, blue, and purple – are the colours of night, water, nature, and are usually calming and relaxing.
Blue, the cool colour of the Orange and Teal style, is associated with sadness in the English language. Light blues (teals/cyans) can be refreshing and friendly, while dark blues are more spiritual and strong. (Source)
How to edit for Orange and Teal
In this chapter of the tutorial, I will show you how to change colour palette of your photos to orange and teal.
I will cover both free and payable, mobile, and desktop photo editors.
I will be using a photo I snapped with my Huawei P30 Pro when I was composing my Create the perfect photo | Episode #1 tutorial.
The settings I used for this image are merely guidelines. Keep in mind that in order to get the best results you’ll need to tweak them for every photo you take.
If you still can’t make it work, feel free to ask for help in the comment section, or send me the image and I will edit them for you.
The vast majority of Instagram users edit their photos with Instagram’s built-in editor – and it makes sense. After all, Orange and Teal is very popular on Instagram.
While it is a somewhat decent option, I would advise against that, especially if you’re using Instagram as your portfolio.
Here’s how you can achieve Orange and Teal on Instagram:
- Click the “+” icon on the bottom of the Instagram page and select the photo. Tap Next.
- In the Filter tab choose Aden.
- In the Edit tab tap on Fade and choose a value between 0 and 50.
- Scroll right to Vignette and choose a value between 0 and 70.
- Tap on the “sun” icon on the top a select a value that looks the best for you.
Result | Instagram’s built-in editing tool
Instagram’s filter did a surprisingly good job in this case.
I hope that in the future Instagram will add more tools to help us better edit photos before posting.
Android built-in editing tool
The editing is performed on Huawei P30 Pro, EMUI version 10.0.0. This is the easiest and the most convenient way to achieve Orange and Teal look but also yields the worst results, in my opinion.
- Open your image in your Gallery app
- Click Edit > Filter > Memory > and pick Memory filter
- Adjust filter intensity. I went with around 20% for this image.
- Go back to the primary editing menu
- Scroll to the right and choose Hue.
- Move the slider to the left or right, until blue and yellow/orange tones balance each other out. For this image, I shifted the slider to the left.
- Save the image
Result | Android built-in editing tool
Although the final image turned out “fine”, it’s far from what I would post on my IG feed, let alone put into my portfolio.
Android’s editor has virtually no tools, however, an update is promised for Huawei devices
I highly recommend using at least Mobile Lightroom.
Lightroom (mobile version)
The Mobile version of Lightroom is one of the best photo editors available for your phone. It has almost all editing usability of the desktop version, and it is free!
- Import the photo.
a) Gallery > Click on your photo > Share > Add to Lr
b) Open Lightroom app > in the bottom right corner click on an icon which looks like a photo and a plus > Select your photo > ADD
- Effects > Split Tone
Highlights: Choose an orange tone. My settings: H:29, S:34.
Shadows: Choose a blue tone. My settings: H:209, S:31.
Balance: My settings: 22
- Color. Increase Vibrance, decrease Saturation: My setting: 26/-6.
- Color > Mix
Yellow, Green: shift hue slider to left
Blue (optional): if you want orange and teal instead of blue, shift blue hue slider to left
- Light > Curve. Choose blue curves and increase shadows, decrease highlights. (photo below)
- Share > Save to device
There are at least 2 ways to import a photo.
a) Gallery > Click on your photo > Share > Add to Lr
b) Open Lightroom app > in the bottom right corner click on the icon, which looks like a photo and a plus > Select your photo > ADD
2. Split toning
Go to the Color tab and click on SPLIT TONING.
With split toning, you can define the hue of your highlights and shadows.
You can copy my settings, which work for most photos, but I encourage you to experiment and see what works the best for you.
Highlights: choose orange tones with saturation up to 50.
Shadows: Choose blue tones with saturation up to 50.
Balance: With balance slider you can shift more colour into highlights or shadows, I usually leave the slider at the default value of 0, or move it slightly to the right.
3. White balance, Vibrance, Saturation
You can try using Lightroom’s Auto white balance, but it usually makes images too yellow for my taste. Find the white balance value where you’ll see the same amount of blue and yellow tones in the image.
Usually, you will increase the Vibrance to make the weaker colour tones pop-up, to counteract this you will decrease Saturation. For this image, I used settings 26 and -6, respectively.
4. Colour Mixer
The aim of this part is to fine-tune the colours that are not quite what we want them to be.
We want to shift greens to yellows, yellows to oranges, and magentas to blues. In other words, we are creating an image with only two colours – ORANGE and TEAL.
Go to Color tab and click on MIX, and move the Hue sliders as described.
You should experiment with Luminance and Saturation as well, just to see what happens. It can be a good idea to increase the Luminance of orange tones and decrease the Luminance of blue tones.
Curves are a quite advanced tool and scare a lot of people, but they are actually quite simple.
If you’re unsure of how to use curves, I recommend you just copy my settings for now.
Go to Light tab and click on CURVES. You will be editing RGB curve (white dot) and Blue curve (blue dot). The RGB curve is optional, and is not required for orange and teal look.
Result | Mobile Lightroom
The Mobile version of Lightroom is the best free photo editor available for your smartphone.
I would also do some additional editing, which has nothing to do with the orange and teal look but could improve the overall image quality.
I would add a vignette, and decrease highlights.
I describe this process in the next chapter, Lightroom (desktop).
Lightroom (desktop version)
Desktop version of Lightroom is my go-to tool for Orange and Teal style.
With its Calibration tool you can change hues of the three primary colours – red, green, and blue.
It’s very powerful and unlocks numerous editing options, which is why I am all the more surprised Lightroom is the only photo editor where I found this tool.
Some other photo editors such as Luminar 4 and ON1 have similar tools, but not as good.
- Import the photo: File > Import Photos and Videos > locate photo on your drive > “Check” it > Import
- Calibration panel
Red Primary, Hue: 50, Saturation: -20
Blue Primary, Hue: -100, Saturation: 20
- Split Toning panel
Highlights, Hue: 35-45, Saturation: 20-40
Shadows, Hue: 200-200, Saturation: 10-30
In the Calibration panel you can change the hue and saturation of the three primary colours, which are the basic unit of your image.
For Orange and Teal look we will focus on red and blue primary, however, I encourage you to try moving green sliders as well, just to get a sense of what they do.
Blue primary: first you will focus on the blue primary hue slider, with which you will change blues to cyans, purples to blues, etc.
To visualize what’s happening when you do so: remember the colour wheel from the beginning of the article. By pushing the blue primary hue slider to the left (negative values), you move counter-clockwise on the wheel.
I always start by pushing the hue all the way to -100, and then bring it back up if needed. My settings are usually between -100 and -50.
Red primary: for the red primary you will move the slider to the right – towards the positive hue values. I usually set this value to around 50.
Saturation values are entirely dependent on your style and the image you’re dealing with. I tend to decrease red primary saturation and increase the blue primary in most cases.
2. Split Toning
Settings for Split Toning will be very similar to those used in mobile version of Lightroom.
TIP: Click on the hue slider + press Alt key to temporarily increase the saturation of split tone to 100%. This will help you better determine the right hue value.
You may also use presets provided by Lightroom. When you’re in the Split Toning panel click on the rectangle in the top right corner. For the highlights I recommend choosing the second preset from the left, and for the shadows the second preset from the right.
To achieve the best results use custom values. I usually these:
Highlights: Hue: 35-45, Saturation: 20-40
Shadows: Hue: 200-200, Saturation: 10-30
Balance: between -5 and 20
This is all you have to do for the Orange and Teal style in Lightroom. However, there are a few more tweaks I always go for.
3. Basic panel (optional)
You still use the basic panel to perform the basic edits such as fixing the contrast, saturation, white balance, setting white and black point. You can also press Auto in the right-most side of the panel.
Temp: play around with the slider until oranges/yellow and blue/cyans balance themselves out. Do not use White Balance Selector tool in this case.
Exposure: is most of the time fine as is
Contrast: decrease to get more detail in the darker parts. Orange and Teal works best with decreased contrast
Highlights: decrease to get more detail in the sky
Shadows: increase to get more detail in the shadows.
By decreasing the highlights and increasing the shadows we achieved a more HDR look.
Whites: click on the slider + press Alt key and move the slider to the left/right until you start seeing red spots.
Blacks: do the same as with whites, however, you will see blue spots in this case
Saturation: decrease. Orange and Teal works best when desaturated.
4. Tone curve (optional)
Orange and Teal colour palette works very well with faded blacks, meaning that the darkest parts of the image are not black, but rather washed-out dark grey.
To do this you will open the Tone Curve panel, disable region-editing mode by pressing the button on the bottom right of the panel, which says “Click to edit point curve”.
As you can see in the screenshot of the curve, I created a slight S-curve and brought the anchor points closer together.
When you change hues in Calibration panel you radically change colour in your image, which can create unwanted unnaturally looking hues.
In addition, when you’re going for an Orange and Teal look, you want only these two tones in your image. Which means the following that you have to desaturate or change other colours.
This is what I usually do (note that this part is HIGHLY dependent on your image).
First, open the HSL/Color panel.
The syntax of the settings bellow is such: Colour name: Hue value, Saturation value, the Luminance value
You must wonder what the numbers in this table even mean. What did you even do by copying these values?
I helped you shift reds, yellows, green towards orange tones, and aqua/cyan/teal tones towards blue.
Vignette is also a great way to improve your Orange and Teal image. Its purpose is to lead the viewers’ eyes into the frame.
In my case, the object in the center of the frame, making it viable to use a dedicated vignette tool. Otherwise, I’d use a Radial Filter.
Go to the Effects panel. The settings I usually go for are:
Amount: -40 to -10
Midpoint: -30 to 0
Roundness: -30 to 30 (depends on the shape of my central object)
Feather: 50 to 70
Highlights: 0 to 10
Sharpening is another great addition to improving your image. Read more about it in Sharpening in Lightroom tutorial.
Result | Lightroom
The desktop version of Lightroom does a great job providing all the tools you need for this kind of edit.
Does this seem too hard for you?
Send me an email and I’ll send you to receive free 380+ presets, or you can ask me to edit the image for you.
Photoshop is another amazing tool to edit your images.
Because its Camera Raw filter works almost the same as Lightroom I won’t go into details on how to achieve Orange and Teal look in Photoshop.
Here is how you start with editing:
- Import the image: File > Open > select your photo > Open
- Filter > Camera Raw Filter
- Do the steps 1 to 7 from Lightroom’s part
- Export the image: File > Save As
Luminar’s calibration tools are unfortunately less convenient than Lightroom’s.
To properly apply the Orange and Teal look, you will have to use LUT Mapping, however, Luminar 4 doesn’t come with any built-in Orange and Teal LUTs.
This is why I created my own and I would gladly share it with you – let me know in the comments below if you need it and I will send it to you along with a detailed description of how you install it.
Result | Luminar 4
ON1 Photo Raw 2020
ON1 is another great photo editor, which similarly to Luminar 4 doesn’t pack a decent calibration tool.
Once again you will have to use LUT Mapping tool with a preset, which I can send you – just let me know in the comments down below.
Result | ON1 Photo Raw 2020
The last photo editor I have prepared for you is Fotor. It is available as an online or desktop version.
It has more than 100 filters from which you can choose one that fits your needs the best.
The best way to achieve Orange and Teal style with Fotor is to:
- Open Fotor
- Click the “+” icon or drag files to upload your own images
- Effect > Vignette Party > Bama > Instensity: 50%
Result | Fotor
Virtually any photo editor is capable of producing the sought after Orange and Teal style.
They differ in the amount of freedom they give you to fine-tune the image to your liking or style.
I also tried editing in Snapseed, but I couldn’t make it work. I spent way too much time browsing all menus and trying different settings, but none were able to give satisfactory result.
If you want me to write a tutorial for any other photo editor, let me know in the comments.