Editing Portraits in Photoshop

Once you have captured some awesome portraits either in a studio or outside, you’re probably going to want to edit those pictures to make them even more beautiful! There are a lot of elements that can interfere with the photographer’s shot or distract the viewer- which is why photographers/designers use Photoshop to improve their images. In this post, I’m going to demonstrate a couple of simple ways to edit your photographs and make them even more stunning.

Step 1: Open the image in Photoshop

  • Once Photoshop is up and running, click on File —> Open to choose a portrait to edit.
  • Double click the background layer in the Layers panel to bring up a window to unlock and name your layer.  

  • We do not want to work directly on the original photo in case you need to go back and start over; therefore, click and drag your layer to the “New Layer” icon in the Layers panel to copy your image.

Step 2: Adjust Brightness/Contrast

  • Click on Image —> Adjustments —> Brightness/Contrast

  • Play around with the two settings and toggle the Preview to make sure you are adjusting the image how you want it.

Step 3: Whiten Teeth

  • Using the Lasso Tool in the toolbar, select the teeth.

  • Click Edit —> Fill… (to get the Fill window to pop up). Under Contents, select White and change the Mode to Normal.

  • Of course this does not look very natural, so we are going to turn the opacity on our Selection down to around 20-30% (depending on the photograph).

Step 4: Remove Blemishes

  • Add a blank layer to the Layers panel.

  • Select your Spot-Healing Brush in the toolbar and make sure Sample All Layers is checked and the Content-Aware button is selected.

  • Adjust your brush size and zoom in depending on the blemish

  • Click blemishes to make them disappear!

NOTE:If the face is a little red like my sample image is, you can use the Hue/Saturation tool to change the setting from Master to Reds. Then turn the saturation down to only target the red colors in the image. *

Step 5: Soften Skin

  • Merge your layers into a single layer by holding shift and left-clicking (selecting) all layers, and dragging them down to the New Layer button. This duplicates all the layers. With the duplicated layers still selected, right-click and select Merge Layers.

  • Change the Layer from Normal to Overlay in the Layers panel.

  • Click Filter —> Other —> High Pass to sharpen the image.

  • Then go to Image —> Adjustments —> Invert to change the sharpness into a blur.

  • Add a Layer Mask to the same layer and double click mask to select Invert.

  • Using the paintbrush tool, change your color to white.

  • Change the brush size and turn the opacity down to around 15-20%.

  • Paint in the blur to specific parts of the face to give it a smooth finish.

And that’s it! You’ve now cleaned up that portrait and made it look better than ever without making too many drastic, unnatural changes.