- Portrait Photography Tips You Need to Start Using Today
- Learn How to Remove Blemishes From Skin in This Quick Photoshop Tutorial
When you start out in photography, it's prudent of course to first learn how to use your camera, lenses, and other camera-related gear.
It's also necessary to learn about things like lighting, composition, framing, and so forth, that way your images have an artistic flair that grabs people's attention.
But one aspect of photography that seems to get lost sometimes is the art of processing the images you take.
When it comes to portraiture, there are a million (maybe not literally...) tutorials out there on topics ranging from removing blemishes to replacing the sky behind the subject and just about anything else you can think of.
And while it's great to have so many tutorials at your disposal, the problem is that no one has time to read a million different tutorials to get a comprehensive understanding of how to retouch your portraits.
So, the goal of this article is to present just a handful of in-depth tutorials that will help you tackle post-processing for portraits.
But First...A Word of Warning
Post-processing isn't intended to be a savior for bad photos.
If you take bad photos, no amount of processing will help them become good photos...
Instead, processing an image is meant to help make a good portrait a great portrait. In other words, the tutorials outlined below are meant to enhance images that already have the "secret sauce."
So, with that in mind, here's a few tutorials you might check out to help you give your portraits another level of awesomeness.
Use Adobe Camera Raw
YouTube Screenshot/Photos In Color
Before you ever open your portraits in Photoshop, I highly recommend putting them through Adobe Camera Raw first.
Essentially, Camera Raw is the place where you set up your image for success.
In other words, you build the foundation upon which you will continue to build once you get the image into photoshop.
You won't be able to make enormous changes in Raw, but the changes you do make will have a significant impact on the success of the image.
For example, you can retrieve detail in blown out highlights, change the white balance, or add a touch of color to the image.
But here's a word of warning - try to avoid making global changes to the image in Camera Raw.
That is, some adjustments (i.e., contrast) are made using a slider, and can actually cause more harm than good, especially in a portrait where that a global change to something like contrast can cause toning issues on the model's skin.
Instead, save changes like that for once you get the image into Photoshop where you have more control over making pinpoint adjustments to the photo.
For a complete beginner's guide to using Camera Raw, check out the video above by Photos in Color.
One of the easiest tools to learn how to use for retouching your portraits is the spot healing tool.
You can use it for all sorts of purposes, from removing freckles or moles from the model's skin to making pimples disappear to eliminating stray hairs that have found their way into areas of the photo where you don't want them.
There's really nothing to it, yet it can have a huge impact on the quality of the final portrait you create.
Dive into learning how to use the spot healing tool in the video above by Photoshop Training Channel.
Though it's probably not a Photoshop tool you'd immediately recognize, frequency separation is actually extremely powerful, allowing you to address skin tones that aren't up to snuff.
In fact, many photographers give props to frequency separation as the best tool for retouching skin in a portrait.
That's because it keeps the texture of the skin - that way it doesn't turn into something that looks fake or overworked - while also helping mask imperfections like blotchy areas and redness.
In fact, if there's one skill you learn to perfect out of all the skills addressed in these tutorials, this should probably be it!
Explore what you can do with this tool in the video above by Blue Lightning TV.
Dodging and Burning
YouTube Screenshot/Anita Sadowska
Not to date myself, but I actually remember learning how to dodge and burn in the darkroom in my high school photography class...
Thankfully, today we have a much easier (and faster!) means of working on areas of an image that are either too bright or too dark.
If you poke around Photoshop (or read enough tutorials), you'll find that there are a variety of ways to dodge and burn.
Try not to get bogged down in all the different techniques, though...
Instead, work on coming to an understanding of how to use dodge and burn tools.
Beyond that, it's also necessary to develop your eye so you know how much dodge or burn is enough - and when you cross over the threshold into too much.
Usually, when you're working on a portrait, it's best to apply delicate changes with fill values and opacity levels that might not exceed 50% and 10%, respectively.
For a detailed and easy to understand tutorial on dodging and burning, watch the video above by Anita Sadowska.
Sharpen the Eyes
There's a reason why there's a saying that the eyes are the window to the soul...
It's how we connect with other people, and, in turn, how we connect with a portrait, too.
You want the eyes to be bright and sharply in focus, but out of the camera, they might not quite live up to their potential.
Sharpening the eyes in Photoshop is a fairly straightforward process, but it isn't the only manipulation you can make that will have a positive impact on the image.
You can also whiten the eye and add contrast that makes them come to life in the image.
There are several ways that you can sharpen the eyes and otherwise work to improve their appearance.
Learn three of those methods - all of which are non-destructive to the image - in the video above by PiXimperfect.
Perhaps one of the most visually impactful changes you can make to a portrait in Photoshop is to adjust its color.
Now, just like I noted earlier, Photoshop won't fix bad photos, and neither will fiddling around with the colors.
However, if you have a solid image, manipulating its colors can make it stand out more and have much more visual impact.
Of course, that's if you go about it purposefully.
Adjusting the colors is more than just slapping a new color into a layer and making the image look a different color.
Instead, you need to have a solid understanding of color theory so you know what colors go well together, like using complementary colors in an image to add color contrast and drama.
That being said, you also need to know what temperatures of light work best with what situations.
For example, if you take a portrait outdoors near sunset, the natural light will be warm and golden. Amping up those gold tones will enhance the image, but trying to add a cooler, bluish tone might make the image look even worse.
Check out an in-depth guide on how to adjust colors and white balance in the video above by TutVids.
Though it's not the most titillating topic out there, learning how to resize your portraits in Photoshop is an absolute must.
Not only that, you should have a solid understanding of things like cropping, changing the printed size of a document, and sized selections as well.
Watch the video above from TutVids to get the low-down on all that, and more!
And with that, you have a step-by-step process of taking your portraits to the next level with key retouching elements!