Learning how to use Photoshop can be a really great skill set. Whether you just like messing around with images, you’re an artist, or you want to add new job skills. If you’re here because of a career be aware that this skill set can be very rewarding and painfully simple. Photoshop is not difficult to use, but many people still have no clue how it works. They are intimidated by the vast amount of features and don’t try to learn.
Using the “curves tool” in Photoshop is many times the first thing I will do to a portrait. I love this tool better than “levels” or any other tool that you can adjust the lighting in a photo. It is obviously best when your photo has been properly taken originally, then you can brighten it up with the top “point” and give it some contrast with the bottom “point”.
I then always go straight for the eyes in a portrait as that is usually the very first thing you look at or are drawn to when you look at a picture. I have another article that just talks about editing the eyes, but to condense it here, basically using the history brush and “screen” is great to lighten up the outer part of the pupil. Then “dodge highlight” it at 7-10% to brighten it up. Then many times I will sharpen just the eyes as well, depends on the photo as if you go too crazy it will look “grainy”.
3. Color Pop/Contrast.
I have many different actions that I use and have setup myself as well. But when I get to this point I will take a step back and look at the photo to see if needs that extra “umph”. Some photos don’t as it was done in curves, some do. For instance if I had a vintage truck in a photo with a child sitting on it, I may paint the truck to stand out. What I mean by “paint” is maybe duplicate your background copy and then create a mask and work just with the truck itself to make it look super contrasty to the rest of the photo. Or maybe you want to do that just with the subjects clothes, etc. The real talent of a good photographer is when they can look at a photo and “just know” what needs to be done. Don’t put a technique on a photo just because you know how to.
I will add a little blur to many photos by creating a mask and using “guassian blur” and grabbing the subject back out of it so the subjects face doesn’t have any blur on it and stays in focus. You have to play around with what percent of blur you want so it still looks natural.
When I am completely done editing a photo I like to burn the edges with the burn tool or add a vignette by using an action I have created or purchased. When I am editing a photo from my studio, the vignette actions do not work because they create this weird “ring” around the background if I was using just a solid color, so that is when I will manually burn if needed.
If you’re really interested in learning how to use photoshop I can recommend a free PDF download to you. It won’t cost you anything and I learned quite a few valuable tips from it. They also have a video course where you can learn just about anything to do with photoshop in a couple of hours. Click here to see it.