In this lesson, I will tell you about useful techniques and techniques for retouching photos. You may already know some of them, but I hope you will find something useful for yourself.
All used images in the lesson were purchased and used in accordance with their licenses.
Increase in natural light
Sunlight creates texture, these are shadow areas and light spots. To control their intensity, we can draw more light on separate layers or increase the existing one. Create a new layer using Layer – New – Layer (Layer – New – Layer) or click Shift + Ctrl + N on Windows or Shift + Command + N on Mac. Set the blending mode to Color dodge (Lightening basics) and Opacity 15%.
Then take a soft brush (B), hold down Alt / Option and take a color sample in the area that needs to be lightened. We continue to take a sample of color and paint with a brush in the necessary places. As a result, we will increase not only light, but also saturation in the image, which will give a more realistic result.
Open the photo in Camera raw; You can do this in Adobe Bridge by right-clicking on the file and selecting Open in Camera Raw (Open in Camera Raw), or in Photoshop, by selecting File – Open as Smart Object (File – Open as a smart object). We apply basic correction to optimize the image (for example, using the sliders Recovery (Recovery) and Fill light (Fill light)), then go to the HSL / Grayscale panel. Activate the option Convert to grayscale (Convert to grayscale) and set Blue (Blue) at -85, Green (Green) at +90 and Yellow (Yellow) at +20.
Trees and shrubs should become whiter, and the sky more black. If you want to add grain, go to the panel Effects (Effects) and for Amount (Quantity) we enter 15, for Size (Size) – 20, for Roughness (Roughness) 80. You can also apply a vignette. I used -30 for Amount (Quantity), 40 for Midpoint (Midpoint) and -35 for Roundness (Roundness).
When applying levels, you can set black and white in a certain position to adjust the color shades, but how to determine the dark and light spots in the image? Apply Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Treshold (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Isohelium) to find these areas.
Move the slider to the right so that there are only a few white spots on the image. Then take the tool Color Sampler Tool (Color mark) (I) and put a dot in the black area. Move the slider to the left to leave a few black spots and set the second point in the white area.
Neutral gray should also be defined. Create a new empty layer between the corrective and background layers, fill it with gray. Move on Edit – Fill (Edit – Fill) and in the drop-down menu, select 50% Gray.
Change the blending mode of this layer to Difference (Difference). Go back to the adjustment layer and move the slider to the left edge. Slowly begin to pull it to the right, until a black dot begins to appear. These are the neutral gray areas in the image (provided there are neutral colors on it at all). Put an end to the instrument Color Sampler Tool (Color label) (i).
Now remove the adjustment and gray layers. Create a new adjustment layer Levels (Levels). In the settings window, take the first pipette and click it on the first point pointing to the dark area, then take the third pipette and click on the second point indicating the bright area.
And finally, take the second pipette and click on the third point, indicating the neutral gray areas. Color tones corrected. To remove points, with the same pipette, simply drag them over the area of the working canvas.
Move on Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue / Saturation (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue / Saturation), set the layer blending mode to Soft light (Soft light) and activate the option Colorize (Toned). Use the sliders Hue (Color tone), Saturation (Saturation) and Lightness (Brightness) to adjust the color: for example, for a cold effect, use Hue 210, Saturation 50 and Lightness 10; for the effect of heat, set Hue (Color tone) to 30, Saturation (saturation) to 30 and Lightness (Brightness) to 5.
You can also use several layers filled with color. At the bottom of the layers panel, click on the button. Add new fill or adjustment layer (Add a new fill or adjustment layer). Select a color, then set the blend mode to Vivid light (Bright light). Decrease Opacity (Opacity) to about 12% and invert the layer mask with Ctrl / Command + I. Now big white brush (B) we work on the mask to add the desired color. This method is especially good for light on portraits that have a textural background.
Adjust the contrast of midtones.
To detail a landscape picture, you need to increase the contrast of the mid-tones. Duplicate (CTRL + J) the background layer and apply Filter – Convert to Smart Filters (Filter – Convert to smart filter). Then go Filter – Other – High Pass (Filter – Other – Color Contrast) and apply a radius of 3 pixels. Change layer blend mode to Overlay (Overlap) and double click on the layer to open the window Layer style (Layer style).
Move to the parameter This layer (This layer), we clamp Alt / option and move the slider to divide it into two parts and set the values 50/100 and 150/200. When you move the sliders, the numbers just above change. This will increase the contrast of medium tones only. Double click on the filter High pass (Color Contrast) on the layers panel to re-open the dialog box and adjust the radius.
Sunset, especially the sea, can contain an amazing color palette. Color tones depend on the weather when shooting, but you can correct them with a gradient map. Click on the button Add new fill or adjustment layer (Create a new fill or adjustment layer) at the bottom of the layers palette and select Gradient map (Gradient map). Click on the color bar to open Gradient editor (Gradient editor).
Click on the first color slider under the gradient bar and change the color to red. Change the color of the second slider to yellow and click OK. Set the layer blending mode to Soft light (Soft light) and reduce Opacity (Opacity) to about 50%. This will create a pleasant golden sunset.
Select the area around the mouth with Polygonal Lasso Tool (Rectangular lasso) (L). Move on Select – Modify – Feather (Allocation – Modification – Feather) and enter a radius of 10 pixels. Thereafter Layer – New – Layer via Copy (Layer – New – Copy to new layer) or Ctrl / Command + J, then Edit – Puppet Warp (Editing – Puppet Warp). Photoshop will create a special grid for the shape of the selection.
The grid size can be customized using the parameter Exposure (Impact). Increase density with More Points (More points) for a more detailed study. Press Ctrl / Command + H to hide the grid, then set the first knots in the corners of the mouth. Add more nodules in the mouth bends. By moving the grid, you can create a beautiful smile.
Macro shots of droplets are very attractive, and a small color toning will help to focus on the form. Fill the image linear gradient # 772222 (RGB 119, 34, 34) – # 3333bb (RGB 51, 51, 187). Go Layer – Layer Style – Gradient Overlay (Layer – Layer Style – Overlap Gradient).
Set the blending mode to Color (Color), opacity by 50%, gradient from foreground color to background color and an angle of 90 degrees. The gradient will be applied as a layer style, so we can return to its settings at any time.
Color of the skin
If after retouching, the skin does not look quite perfect, you may need to adjust its color tone. Move on Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue / Saturation (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Tog / Saturation). Click on thumbnail layer masks and press Ctrl / Command + I to invert it.
Using soft brush (B) white, paint over the skin. To adjust, switch to mode Red (Red) (choose from the drop-down menu) and use the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders to adjust the skin color. Switch to Yellows and optimize skin tone. The parameters used depend on the source image. In this situation, you can only rely on yourself.
Adjust skin tones
Sunburns and blush can ruin a portrait, especially if the model has pale skin. Photoshop has a tool to fix such things: Match color (Pick color). Open the image and highlight the red areas with Quick selection tool (Quick selection).
You can hold the key Alt/ Option and subtract the extra areas from the selection. Go to Select – Modify – Feather (Allocation – Modification – Feather) and enter a value of about 15 pixels. We use Ctrl / Command + J, to copy the selection to a new layer.
Using this technique, we copy the skin that has not become too old to a new layer. In the next step, we will work with the original and editable layer, so I advise you to rename them, so as not to get confused. Double click on the layer name and write, for example, “Beautiful skin” and “Red skin”.
Activate the red skin layer and turn Image – Adjustments – Match Color (Image – Correction – Choose color). In dropdown menu Source (Source) choose the working paper, and in Layer (Layer) select the “Beautiful Skin” layer. Configuring parameters Luminance (Glow) and Color intensity (Range of colors). The intensity of the effect can be adjusted using Opacity (Opacity).
The noise in the photos is annoying. The only way to get rid of it is to use feeds. Duplicate the background (CTRL + J), go to the panel Channels (Channels) and select the channel on which the noise is most noticeable. Move it down the button New channel (New channel) (near the trash icon) and turn Filter – Stylize – Find Edges (Filter – Styling – Selection of edges). Then apply the filter Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) with a radius of about 3 pixels.
Pressing the Ctrl / Command key, click on the thumbnail of the created channel to load its selection. Activate the RGB channel (topmost) and go back to the layers panel. Click on the button Add layer mask (Add layer mask) at the bottom of the layers panel.
Click on the layer thumbnail and apply Filter – Blur – Surface Blur (Filter – Blur – Blur on the surface). Play with the settings Radius (Radius) and Treshold (Threshold levels) until the noise is removed as much as possible. Thanks to the created mask, the contour remained intact.
Retro effect with curves
Move on Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves) and change the RGB to Red (Red). Then drag the line a little down for the shadows and a little up for the light, creating an S-curve. Do the same for Green (Green). Go to Blue (Blue): move light down a little for light, and up slightly for shadows, creating an inverted S-curve. The shadow should be a bluish tint, and the light should be yellowish.
Create a new layer using Shift + Control / Command + N and fill it with the color # 000066 (RGB 0, 0, 102). Set the blending mode to Esclusion (An exception). Now duplicate the background (CTRL + J) and set the blending mode for the copy to Soft light (Soft light).
To reduce the effect’s effect, activate the topmost layer and click on the background copy while holding the Shift, to select both layers. Or you can add them to the group Control / Command + G. Decrease Opacity (Opacity) layer (or group). The opacity of each layer can also be changed individually.
Determine the contents of the layers
If you are engaged in collageing, then you should be familiar with this problem: during the creative process we often forget to give meaningful and understandable names to the layers. The names “Layer 4” and “Layer 5 Copy 2” will not help much when we need to determine the contents of a layer.
Photoshop has several solutions to this problem. For example, you can activate the tool Move Tool (Move) (V) and right-click on the element that you want to select, and select the desired layer from the list.
Activate Move Tool (Move) (V), hold down Ctrl / Command and left-click on the element whose layer we want to select.
You can also hold down Ctrl / Command and left-click on the layer thumbnail to create a selection around its contents. Marching ants will show you what is on this layer.
Also in the layers panel menu, in the upper right corner, you can select Layer Palette Options (Layer panel options). There you can customize the size of the thumbnails to help you see their contents.
Plug-ins help in work, but take away a lot of resources and slow down the loading of Photoshop. Perhaps the plugins you use have functions that you rarely use, so it’s best to temporarily disable them until they are needed again. To do this, create a new folder on your computer in the program folder and name it, for example, Plugins_deactivated.
Now move to the folder all the add-ons that you do not need at the moment. When you restart Photoshop, these plugins will not load and the program will start faster. When you need the plugins again, simply move them back to the main folder.
The effect of seppi gives photos of classic. To create it for a black and white photo, repeat the following steps. Move on Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Photo Filter (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Photo Filter) and select Sepia Filter (Sepia filter) with Density (Density) 100%. Double-click on the layer (not by name) to open the window Layer style (Layer style).
At the bottom of the dialog box, move the white slider to the left while holding the Alt / Option key. This will create a soft transition between adjusted and unadjusted areas. Now the sepia effect looks very elegant.
I’m sure that you’re annoyed by how Photoshop arranges elements relative to each other, but the program just wants to help us align them based on the outer edges of the document or other elements. Unfortunately, the contents of the layer stick to the edge, despite the fact that sometimes we need to leave a few pixels between them. This feature can be disabled by holding down the key during the move. Ctrl/ Command.
Repeated Layer Styles
As a rule, layer styles can be applied only once. For example, if you go to the menu Layer – Layer Style – Drop Shadow (Layer – Layer Style – Shadow), you cannot create a double shadow, one with an angle of 120 degrees, a distance of 2 pixels and a size of 2 pixels, and another with an angle of 180 degrees, a distance of 12 pixels and a size of 12 pixels.
In fact, it is possible! You just need to find the right way. Create the first shadow. Then click the right mouse button on the layer and select Convert to Smart Object (Convert to smart object). You can create another shadow on this smart object and you can convert it to another smart object. Thus, without much effort, you can add a third and fourth shadow. You can also apply multiple strokes.
By the way, so that the styles are on separate layers, right-click on the symbol FX and select Create layers (Create layers). Now you can apply filters to these styles, but they will already be non-editable.
Author: Dirk Metzmacher