Thin films of titanium dioxide and titanium dioxide with incorporated gold and silver nanoparticles were deposited onto glass microscope slides, steel and titanium foil coupons by two sol–gel dip-coating methods. The film's photocatalytic activity and ability to evolve oxygen in a sacrificial solution were assessed. It was found that photocatalytic activity increased with film thickness (from 50 to 500 nm thick samples) for the photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue in solution and resazurin redox dye in an intelligent ink dye deposited on the surface. Contrastingly, an optimum film thickness of ∼200 nm for both composite and pure films of titanium dioxide was found for water oxidation, using persulfate (S2O82−) as a sacrificial electron acceptor. The nanoparticle composite films showed significantly higher activity in oxygen evolution studies compared with plain TiO2 films.