NOTE: I apologize for the weird formatting of this post! I did not do it this way, but I can’t seem to fix it without having to do everything over again and it took a long time so this b!tch ain’t doin’ it again lol
This one is for Susy. (Again). I’m going to show her from start to finish what I would do with this gorgeous photo that she took of her Bella 🙂
Here is the original:
As you can see, her focus is great on the eye in the foreground so I’m really going to emphasize that. Lot’s of screenshots coming!!
First I’m going to brighten it up a bit. I like to do this by using Levels rather than the Brightness/Contrast feature. The reason is because you have more flexibility with the highlights, the shadows and the mid-tone contrast. To do this in PS CS5, go to Image>Adjustments>Levels. (In PSE, you would go to Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels.)
This is what pops up:
Those are the original level settings you see there above. The next screen shot shows you what I changed them to. The slider on the left is for the shadows, the middle is the mid-tone contrast and the slider on the right is for the highlights.
I set the shadows to 4, mid-tone contrast to 1.03 and highlights to 192 to reduce the effect of the slight redness on her face. For photos with more of a red cast you can click the Channel bar at the top of the levels window and change it from “RGB” to “RED” and it will affect only the red areas in the photo. Be careful not to overdo it – it will give your photo a green cast.
I didn’t do anything with the output levels on the bottom.
Next, I’m going to select my Healing Tool. You can select it with the mouse or you can press “J” if you want to use the shortcut. It looks like a band-aid. Make sure it’s set to “spot healing tool.”
All I want to do is take a few spots off Bella’s face so her skin will look smoother when I get to that part. Select a soft round brush. I set my brush size to 70px. You may need something bigger or smaller depending on what you’re trying to remove.
There are 3 other options at the top of the screen where it says “Type.” They are “Proximity Match,” “Create Texture,” & “Content Aware.” Make sure your healing brush is set to Content Aware. Then I just click over the areas I want to heal. I circled them in the screen shot below.
This is what it looks like after they’re healed with the healing tool:
Next I’m going to duplicate the layer. Layer>Duplicate Layer.
I named the Layer “Smooth Skin.”
Look to the right in your layers pane and make sure the duplicated layer is selected in blue.
Then we’re going to start the process to smooth the skin. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur.
I set the Radius to 15.4 pixels. It’s high(ish), but I did that on purpose. We can lower the layer opacity later.
Now I’m going to use one of my favorite things : Layer Masks!! To do this go to Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All.
After you do this, in your layers pane you will see the following:
Make sure to click the black rectangle before moving on to the next step! I’m going to paint inside the layer mask and nothing will happen if you keep the other rectangle (the one with her face in it) selected.
Now select your paint brush either by clicking on it or by pressing “B.” Make sure your color is set to white, blend mode set to normal. You can use a larger size brush for this step. And then use your paint brush to paint over the areas of the skin that you want to smooth. I am going to paint over everything except for the areas that I have circled in white in the image below. If you make a mistake, just change your paint brush color to black and go back over your mistake and its all fixed!
After smoothing it looks like:
I may need to lower the opacity later, but for now it looks fine so I’m going to leave it. In all honesty, I probably should have taken the blur radius to a higher number to smoothher skin out slightly more so keep that in mind when editing other images. It’s easy to lower the opacity if the smoothing effect is too much, but it’s a whole extra step if you have to smooth again.
Next, I want to remove the small red patch between her eyes and a couple of other places I circled in the picture below.
To do this we need to click on the bottom layer in the layers pane. It will be marked as “Background.” Then, go to Layer>Duplicate Layer. I named my new layer “Remove Redness” but you can name yours whatever you want. After you duplicate the layer, go to Layer>Arrange>Bring to Front to bring that layer to the top so that when you make your next changes, you can see them. If you leave this layer in between the background layer and the smooth skin layer, the only parts what will change are the parts that you skipped over in your smoothing layer so make sure you have this in the right place; on top! Then go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation.
Desaturate the layer by pulling the middle slider in the pop-up window all the way to the left as pictured.
Your image will turn black and white, obviously. Now, we make another layer mask by going to Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All. At this point, your image will turn back to color. Select your brush tool again, make sure the color is set to white, blend mode to normal. Change the opacity of the brush from 100% down somewhere between 20%-40%. I chose 40% brush opacity and a brush size of about 125px.
Now look in the layers pane at right and adjust the opacity of this layer until the skin blends seamlessly to reduce the redness. I chose 30% Opacity.
And this is what the photo looks like now.
I’m going to flatten the layers before I move on. Layer>Flatten Image.
Then I’m going to duplicate the layer again. Layer>Duplicate Layer. I named this layer “Contrast” but you don’t have to name it at all. It just helps to keep me straight when I am using multiple layers at once and I’ve developed of habit of naming them even when I’m not using a lot of layers at once.
This is where I am going to play with the contrast a little bit. Go to Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast.
I don’t want to push it up too much because I don’t want to give Bella’s face an unnatural color cast.
After you’re satisfied with the contrast (which you can always bump up or down a little more/less later if you want) it’s time to brighten the eyes.
I already did a detailed tutorial on that and you can find it HERE, so I am going to save myself a little bit of time by not rehashing all that completely in this post. I’m just going to quickly review the steps below. If you need the details click the link, it will pop up in a different window and you can just do that step and come back here for the rest.
Also, if you’re not Susy and you’re reading/doing this with another photo, she did mention that she likes to use the Burn Tool for defining the eye rather than the black paint brush. It works just as well if not better, so if you’d like to try that instead when it gets to the defining step in the other tutorial, have at it! Everyone will have a different way of doing things that seems to be better for you and that’s great!
For brightening, flatten the image. Duplicate the layer. I’m sure everyone has the hang of those two things by now. Then grab your white paint brush, blend mode set to overlay, adjust the size of your brush appropriately and then paint the iris of the eyes white, adjust opacity to taste. Then repeat those same steps on the whites of the eyes to make them pop a bit more. For defining the eyes, either change your brush color to black and outline the tops and bottoms of the eyes, around the iris and around the outer edge of the pupil OR you can do this step with the burn tool and (again) adjust the opacity to taste.
This is what it looks like when I get done with that step:
I flattened the image and boosted the contrast a little more (to 18). Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast.
I also still see a bit of red between her eyes so I’m going to do another Remove Redness layer. If you need a reminder on how to do it, refer back to the top!
I like the little black or white faded borders…that’s kind of a signature of mine, but no one else has to do that as I realize a lot of people don’t like them. So here is the before and after…
And just for fun, I took some extra steps to create the look below…not much different than the one above I suppose, but Susy likes high contrast images and so do I so I played it up a little more 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!!! Comments rock my mismatched socks 😉