Photoshop techniques

Created by stenchlord on April 4, 2014, 6:46 a.m.
  • Got bored so decided to try out some photoshop techniques... as you do.

    Using a stock photo from here -

    This is what I acheived:

    Prolly can't tell the difference between the first two images since I had to nerf the resolution to be able to upload it to the site.

    Here are the full size images (5616 x 3744px):

    First is stock photo.

    Second is a cleaned up image (removing tree branch top left, cleaned up some stray hairs and marks on her dress, pretty heavy skin smoothing that wasn't necessary but it was done since this was an exercise, enhanced highlights in her eyes).

    Third image is general editing of levels, white balance, saturation, contrast, a little sharpening and lens corrections.


    Doing the above got me to thinking, how experienced are you guys at editing your photos/images?

    Any techniques you happen to be good at that you could share with the rest of the newbies like myself.

    It's been years since I did an edit like the above and it made me realise why it's important to keep in practice otherwise stuff like this which should be a pretty simple edit will take much longer than it should..

    Either way, I'm all for expanding my personal skills so if you can share what you know with me, I'd be all ears :D

    I'll write up what I did above at a later date so that others can hopefully use it if they require :)

  • I'm assuming that most established photographers use Lightroom and that we all use it in a similar fashion...

    Import RAW files > Apply basic preset > Fine tune images to taste

    Here's my basic preset with a before/after comparison to show what it does: Download

    C:\Users\Your Name\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Develop Presets

    *shameless plug*

    My preset works well with the Quick Develop panel in Lightroom.

  • Man, Lightroom looks like it's so straight forward. I only recently got it for myself but have not used it much since I've always used Photoshop.

    Need to look up some Lightroom tutorials and try brush up on those skills. Would probably save me a hell of a lot of time in the long run for basic edits. Thanks for the preset, saved it :D

  • I've made twelve Lightroom tutorials. I'm not sure if you will enjoy them, but they cover most of the basics.

  • I like the idea of a thread where we all use the same photo and then touch it up. i love seeing how other people PP photos!

    Here is my attempt!

  • @mclaren777: Subscribed to the channel, will definitely have a look through all the videos :D

    @YoThatLimp: That's actually a pretty good idea. Should I start another thread or keep everything in here? Also perhaps upload a larger image? Image is pretty small :(

    Can also just upload it to an image hoster and then link it under your thumbnail version.

  • @stenchlord said:

    @mclaren777: Subscribed to the channel, will definitely have a look through all the videos :D

    @YoThatLimp: That's actually a pretty good idea. Should I start another thread or keep everything in here? Also perhaps upload a larger image? Image is pretty small :(

    Can also just upload it to an image hoster and then link it under your thumbnail version.

    Maybe we (you?) can make a thread a week with the photo. I wish there was a good place for raw photos! I wish Tested had a poll system, that could be fun!

  • @YoThatLimp: I'm cool with that. Gimme a couple days though, will give me a chance to think up a couple ideas and find some stock photos for us to use. is a good image hosting site, there's no dimension restriction. I think it's fine with whatever dimensions the image is as long as it's not more than 15MB in size.

  • I'm not sure that voting on the images will really benefit anybody.

    Also, I think we should always provide links to the source of the original images.

  • i am down for doing something like this. I would post some of my before and after light and hevy mods. However i am on the road for the next week and don't have photoshop with me, or my source images. however i have a bunch of stuff on my deviant art page. Not to mention deviant art is a great place to find stock images to use for this. They are liscensed correctly and the artists would appreciate the attenion.
  • @mclaren777: Course, I always do link to the source. Had my work stolen in the past so I know how much it can suck.

    @TsunamiJuan: I think DA will be the easiest method although for some challenges I'd have liked to get access to RAW files but .jpgs should be fine.

  • I use Photoshop CS5 so if you're using an older version things might be a little different but this should give you a basic idea of how to do things.


    To start things off, you need to discern what you think the image needs for improvement.

    For this image, I felt that some details needs to be cleaned up like the branch creeping into the frame, strands of hair across her face, stray strands of hair looking messy on her dress, her skin while nice has some blemishes that could be cloned out and her eyes I felt needed to be brought out a little before doing standard post processing to levels, contrast, saturation etc.

    (Disclaimer: Technically speaking you should be creating a new layer for each process so that you can later go back and adjust if any one step does not fit in with the edit as a whole. It's good practice to do this with every image you edit.)

    First thing is to remove any large objects you don't want in the image. For this particular one there's only the branch, to remove things like this just select it with the marquee tool and then right-click and select Fill (or Shift-F5), under the drop down box for Use select Content-Aware, leave Blending Mode on Normal and Opacity on 100%. For most general things this should do the job, for more intricate things you might need to section off what you want to remove and do it in parts.

    Next is to brighten up her eyes. Select the Dodge tool, set Range to Midtones, Exposure to 15-20% depending on taste and carefully brush the iris of each eye just to brighten it up and make the colours pop a little more. Once done, select the Burn tool, set Range to Shadows, Exposure to 15-20% as well and brush the outside edges of the iris of each eye. This will clearly separate the iris from the sclera. Speaking of the sclera, select the Paintbrush, select White and set the Opacity to around 5-10% and carefully paint the sclera to make it appear more White. Be careful not to go too overboard with it though as you can make the model look comical if you go too hard on it. Normally I don't do this step unless completely necessary.

    This next step is the most tedious. Cloning out blemishes and strands of hair. For singular blemishes like pimples or beauty spots, etc. Just use the spot healing brush and make sure the brush covers the entire blemish. For removing things like the strands of hair in her face, you'll need to select the Healing Brush tool. This is where the process gets a little tedious, you need to select an area around what it is you wish to remove and then paint out the object you want gone. On large areas this isn't too much of an issue but when the background is detailed like dresses or near facial features, you need to be careful not to ruin or lose any details. Patience is the key here.

    Getting towards the end now. Next step is skin smoothing, might seem a little convoluted but it's a pretty simple process once you do it a few times. Select the entire image and duplicate the layer (CTRL + J), go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. You'll want to find the amount of blur that pretty much smooths out all features (like image below).

    Don't follow through with the Gaussian Blur though, just remember the Radius number required to achieve that level of blur, cancel and then go to Filter>Other>High Pass and set the Radius number to the one you got from the previous step. Next you want to go to Filter>Blur>Surface Blur and change the Radius to one-third the number you've been using (if you had High Pass Radius set to 18 then set Surface Blur Radius to 6) and Threshold just leave at default (which I think is 15).

    Once this is done you'll want to invert the layer (CTRL + I) and then change the layers blending mode (Drop down box at the top of the layers panel next to Opacity) from Normal to Linear Light. After this you'll want to change the Opacity of the layer down to something <50% and then add a Vector Mask (just drag the layer down to the Vector Mask icon at the bottom of the panel). Make the Vayer Mask black and then choose the Paint Brush and select White.

    Next up is just a matter of painting on her skin, avoid edges (eyes, lips, hair, clothing/jewellery), take your time with it, if you want to check what you've painted and what you've missed then just press the backslash key ( \ ) and it should turn on the layer mask mode. Once you're done with that you can change the opacity level to intensify or weaken the smoothing process.

    After this step it's just a matter of doing your basic edits to lighting, contrast, saturation etc.

    I went for a slightly ethereal and soft look. So I rose the temp a little (for a warmer image), lowered the tint, bumped the exposure up a tiny bit, raised the contrast ever so slightly to give it a little more pop, brought down some of the highlights so the details in her dress weren't blown out, raised some of the shadows so you could get more details in her hair, raised saturation on red (for her lips), orange (for ambient lighting), yellow (for skin tone), green (for the trees in the background) and then sharpened the image a little. The final image is as you see.