Portrait postprocessin Tutorials
By filipson/Filip (4,015)
on January 4, 2009 12:27:13 PM CST
Here is final version.
Here is raw file.
Hello everyone. I have been here quite a while and recieved tons of valuable advice and input from you. This month assigment made me think that I should give something back. Since portraiture is currently my main interest and the category that I am trying to learn and hopefully master one day, I decided to give you some advice about how I do post process work in my images. But here is the tricky part: I honestly hope that thanks to that guide someone will find flaws in my technique and points them out. The thing is - you can't treat my advice as benchmark because I figured it out by myself and since I am self-thaught mostly I am not sure how good in fact my treatment is. It allowed me to produce some quite high rated images here on psig that for sure :)
I know that there are diffrent opinion about digital manipulation in photography. I think that it's impossible to produce high quality image without using a computer however the results are perfect only if photo from the camera is perfect
Okay down to buisness. We are going to work on a portrait of my lovely girlfriend Monica.I have a lot of her images, she's best model I had so far and I really love working with her. Please do not use it for any purpose different than this tutorial without asking me first.
The image was taken using a beauty dish attached to studio flash as main light source. There was also a lamp from the top for her lighting and a small background kicker.
Open photoshop (I have CS3) and let's take a look on the photo (0). It has some gold tint into it but since my recent project is portraiting Monica in four diffrent CMYK roles (as Cyan, Magenta, Black and Yellow - and this is supposed to be yellow) this gold tint will be valuable and we will even try to enchance it even more. However I can name several things to do right away: some nasty hot spots on cheeks and forehead and tip of the nose that require toning down. There is difference in brightnes in upper part of her face (brighter) and lower (darker) that might be quite a big problem. There is small shadow on the right side of her neck that we will brighten. Some sharpening and skin smoothing could work as well. Okay so here it is!
1. General face cleaning
Duplicate the layer (ctrl+j). Take the spot healing brush tool. Zoom in to 100% and using "[" and "]" keys to adjust size of your brush just click on some spots you want to get rid of. For example in her eyes there are some bids of her make up. There are also few areas on skin that require this retouch (1). After you are done merge layers (ctrl+shift+e) or go to layer->merge visible.
2. Removing the highlits
Duplicate layer. Take the stamp tool. We will start from the forehead. Alt+click the area near the highlight (but not the highlited area I have marked the spot in which i have started with x) and start to clone it on hotspots. The idea is to cover burn outs with preferably even coloured spot (like it shows in 2). Be sure to change the source point quite often. The key is having quite an even color covering each hotspot (you always take source for cloning from the area near the hotspot you are currently working on). I hope the image illustrates it better than I am describing it :). Of course it now has look of artificial cloning but notice that you are working on a copy of the layer. See what happens is you go down with the opacity of that layer to 50% - the effect isn't that obvious now is it? (3) But the hotspots are toned down noticable. Now take ereaser tool with opacity and flow set to 50 - 60% and try to fade places in which border between your cloned portion and skin is still visible. Look at the diffrence by turning the duplicated layer on and off. After you are done merge layers
The whole point nr 2 should be avoided at all times. I mean you shuld avoid blown out areas when taking a picture. This is kind of emergency route for you but its always best not to have blown outs in you raw photo.
3. Some more retouching
That point isn't nessesary. It only shows a method you can use to do some retouching in your own photos. We will try to reduce some marks on her skin on cheeks. Duplicate layer and select stamp tool. Using the same method as in point 2 simply cover the area with marks with skin texture from around. Then again go with the opacity to around 50% which will make marks visible but more subtle. Using eraser fade the borders. Merge layers when you're done (4).
At that point you might consider using skin smoothing software like for example Kodak AirBrush Professional plug in. If you do, do it exactly the same - duplicate layer, apply the skin softening (important: only on skin!) and then go down with opacity (50% is always a good start) - you will avoid making plastic like skin, the skin of your model will look still like skin and what is most important HER skin, but the 50% of softened skin will add some improved apperance. There is a lot of skin smoothing plug ins for PS and I would suggest getting one. You don't have to use it always but it is good to have something like it just in case.
4. Shadow brightening
Using exactly the same method you can brighten the shadows. Shadow under her nose on her left side and on her neck on the left are good material for brightening. So again duplicate layer. Using stamp tool cover the shadows with brighter color from around the shadow. Opacity down to 50-60% and fading using eraser. You might find it better to go down with the opacity to lower values like 30% and then repeating the process after merging. It's more accurate that way but I rather show you the method and you may use it in many diffrent ways. Merge layers (4).
5. Special taste
This image is supposed to be Yellow on my CMYK serie. It already has some golden tint but we will try to have it even more. Duplicate the layer. Go to filter -> other -> maximum. Select radius of 15 pixels and click OK. What this filter do is basicly effect of applying a choke--spreading out white areas and choking in black areas. The more radius you choose the effect is more visible. Okay I know it look horrible right now but change the blending mode of that layer to overlay. Then go to filter->blur->gaussian blur. Set radius to 70 pixels. Set opacity of that layer to 60-70% (5)\ Now the effect achieved might not be into your taste but again it's only a way to achieve such look. Experiment with it, maybe you will find different settings that will be more into your taste. There also is filter at other filters called minimum - it works the opposite way and also can produce some nice results when eperimenting with blending mode and blur. Merge layers after you're done.
6. Gimme the light
Last step has exposed the trouble I mentioned at the begining. The lower parts of her face are darker then upper parts. We will try to fix this. Duplicate the layer. Change blending mode to screen. Create mask for that layer. Fill it with black colour. Now bring out only the dark area of her lower parts around the lips. (6) shows what effect you should have and also what shape the mask should have. Operate with black and white as well as grey tones to have smooth borders. Again the effect is obvious and bad looking but see what happens when you go with the opacity down. I set mine to 35% This was the point in which the tones were even on the whole face.
7. Final adjustments
I did two adjustments layers for the final touch. One is color balance (+15 red +15 yellow) with the opacity set to 65% and the other one is hue/saturation (-25 saturation). The trick is that I mask those layers so that they don't adjust eyes. Simply draw black spots on these layers masks in the areas in which there are eyes. This makes the eyes really zing out of photo
I have noticed some red color cast in the shadows on the left side of her face. To get rid of them select image and layer go to channels. Select red channel but keep the view of all channels on (click the eye near RGB). Select burn tool with exposure of 4% and simply paint on that red areas. We are burning only in red channel so the result is removing that red cast and not darkening the whole part.
8.Ultimate finale adjustements
Like brightening the side of her left eye, brightening the hair (using the same method as in point 6 except you mask hair only), darkening the image - create curves adjustment layers and set the black point in the iris of her eye (using black eyedropper from the curves window), then set the opacty of that layer to 70% and mask the hair with black brush (so that hair isn not darkened). Final touch is sharpening. Sharpen everything but the skin and background. So duplicate layer, sharpen the copy and then mask out skin and background. I have used unsharp mask with amoun 160% radius 1 and treshold 0. I did also some background brightening and eyes brightening both using the technique with screen layer set to low opacity. At the end removed the tilt to keep eyes straight which tightend the crop perhaps too much. Last touch was adding the frame
Well and that basicly it! I know "Yellow" isn't anything spectacular because the photo itself had some flaws. I have chosen it because of that to show you how we can improve the results in postprocess. The more perfect your raw photo is the less work you will have. Nevertheless I hope you will like the effect achieved. I tried to make something special of kinda casual photo.
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