Photo Manipulation Techniques to Enhance Portrait Photography

by in Graphics on 3rd Mar 2010 · Comments

Even the best photographers need to 'touch up' their photographs – no magazine portrait photography is straight from the camera. Small adjustments can make a big difference to an image, and this tutorial will show you how to execute a few changes to make a big impact on the final result.

Photo Manipulation Techniques to Enhance Portrait Photography
Image from: SXC


We will be using only Photoshop’s built-in tools such as quick mask mode, the pen tool and the spot healing brush tool.

Changes will be made to the hair color and eye color. The blur filter will be used to smooth the complexion and the whole image will be considerably brightened.

Let's Start

Before we start, below is the original image for this tutorial.

Original

Step 1: Prepare the Image

  1. Open the photograph in Photoshop
  2. Duplicate the background layer
  3. Turn off the visibility of the background layer
  4. With the duplicate layer active
  5. Image > Adjustments > Levels

Apply the following settings:

Level 1

Step 2: Change Hair Color

  1. Select the Brush Tool
  2. Press Q to enter quick mask mode
  3. Set foreground and background colors to default

In quick mask mode, with black as the foreground you can paint the mask, changing to white as the foreground you can erase the mask.

Mask the hair as shown below:

Q Mask Hair

Press Q to exit quick mask mode. You will now have everything but the hair selected Select > Inverse.

Now you have just the hair selected:

Hair Selection

Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.

Apply the following settings:

Fill Layer Hair

You now have the color picker palette on the screen.

Apply the following settings:

Color Picker

Turn off the visibility of the background layer. Right click on either visible layer and click Merge Visible

Step 3: Smooth Complexion

Using the Pen Tool with the following settings:

Pen Tool Settings

Create a path around the face, ears and neck. Right click within the path and click Make Selection, as shown below:

Face Selection

  1. Edit > Copy (Ctrl + C)
  2. Edit > Paste (Ctrl + V)
  3. Turn off the visibility of all other layers
  4. Using the eraser tool, erase the eyes and mouth (including the lips)
  5. Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur – set to 5, click OK
  6. Restore visibility to the photo layer
  7. Turn off the visibility of the background layer if necessary
  8. Right click on either visible layer and click Merge Visible
  9. Image > Adjustments > Levels

Apply the following settings:

Level 2

Step 4: Color the Lips

  1. Press Q to enter quick mask mode
  2. Select the Brush Tool
  3. Select a soft, round brush
  4. Paint the lips in the same way you masked the hair previously
  5. Press Q to exit quick mask mode
  6. Select > Inverse
  7. Select > Feather – set to 2, click OK
  8. Layer > New Fill Layer>Solid Color

Apply the following settings:

Fill Layer Lips

  1. Set the fill color to red #BA0A0A
  2. Reduce the layer opacity to 50%
  3. Merge the 2 visible layers

Step 5: Eradicate Blemishes

Select the Spot Healing Brush Tool.

Apply the following settings:

Spot Healing Settings

  1. Place the circle over the mole on the throat and click once
  2. Reduce the brush size to 40px
  3. Click once on the piercing hole on the ear

Step 6: Change Eye Color

  1. Zoom into the eyes
  2. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool
  3. Drag a selection round the pupil of one eye
  4. Hold down the Shift Key and drag a selection around the other pupil

Pupils Selection

Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation.

Apply the following settings:

Hue Sat Settings

Ctrl + D to deselect.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

Now we can reduce the size of the photograph. Image > Image Size - apply the following settings:

Image Size Settings

Image > Adjustments > Levels – apply the following settings:

Level 3

End Result

After going through all the steps, below is the final result.

Enhanced

Conclusion

These techniques can be adapted and used on just about any portrait photograph. As long as you duplicate the original image, you can play with all of Photoshop’s filters, layer styles, blending options, etc., until you get the effect you like. Always bear in mind, less is more – usually small adjustments make the biggest impact and keep the image looking realistic.

Carol is a blogger and Photoshop enthusiast. She enjoys surfing the net in search of outstanding art, design and photography, and enjoys nothing better than sharing her discoveries through article writing.