Paper Toning

Warm, neutral or cool tones on a print can create different aesthetic’s, and project different moods through the image. I have researched different ways of creating tones, including types of paper and toners.

The easiest way of creating different tones is through the paper, shown here is two types of Ilford Multigrade FB paper. The classic paper, aims to create a neutral tone, in comparison to the cooltone which gently radiates blue tones. I personally prefer a cooltone finish in contrast to warm, which has orange tones, as i think it looks more crisp, but the classic paper has a nice subtly to it.

But these papers work best when used with the correct developer, such as cool tone developer for cooltone paper. I have tried to do research into whether the cooltone paper would still produce a cool tone with the universal developer that is available in University, but there is little online. I found one forum that stated using the Universal developer only increases the developing time of the cool paper, and doesn’t provide any significant effects.

warm tone paper

From Ilfords official site, this is the same image printed on to warm tone paper, but then developed with a cooltone and warmtone developer. This suggests that developer has a largest affect on a print, as even on warm tone paper a cool print can be produced.

Toner Descriptions

Toning in ‘post production’ is another way of adding colour to a print. This grid goes through each toner that can be used, judging by its stablility, tone ect. Toning can add a long life to prints, so it is a useful process if you use the correct toner.

Toner Added Stability Noticeable Tone/color Try it for Notes
Sepia Good Very Yellow-Brown Portraits or buildings Print 10% darker “Phew!”
Selenium Excellent Mild on CT
Very on WT
Purple on CT
Russet on WT
Anything! Great for preserving prints
Copper Low Very Cool brown to near red Old fashioned look Tone changes w/ time immersed
(Iron) Blue None Very Cyan blue Winter scenes
Gold, Protective Excellent Slight Midnight blue Night or heavily shadowed scenes Does notproduce a golden tone.
Brown Good Very Brown Old fashioned look Works slowly
Gold, Nelson’s Excellent Very Yellow-Brown to Med. Brown Anything! Must not use metal tray tongs!
Yellow-Gold None Very Yellow Anything
Red None Very Red Anything Available as dye only
Green None Very Green Forests, Etc.

Gold toner

Gold toner is the most recommended for creating a cool tone. It also provides excellent stability to the prints, and adds a subtle blue tint to it. But unfortunately, gold toner is very expensive to buy and use, and i dont feel this is suitable for this project.

“Prints toned in gold toners generally have similar density and contrast to untoned prints. Most commercial gold toners are single solution toners which, when used on their own, shift the image colour of a print to blue-black. However, they are often used in combination with a sepia toner to produce an attractive orange-red colour.”

Blue developer

Bally-sTBlue toner is another way of creating a cool tone, but the blue is very intense. The result produced can be up to 3 times more intense than gold toner.  A disadvantage of this can be the blue staining the whites instead of gently adjusting the shadows, and can turn out like this.


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