THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO EDITING

says Andy

Use Photoshop to edit and transform your photographs from average to awesome in the post-production phase of your project

Photoshop is a hugely important part of the photographic process. More and more photographers now rely on this software instead of using the traditional on-camera settings. In the postproduction phase you can push your images to the next level and achieve fantastic creative results that just couldnbe captured on a camera alone.

Many factors can let down a photo-shoot, be it the weather, poor equipment or a slightly shaky hand, but all of these flaws can be edited out and corrected as if they never existed. When using Photoshop you only need to master a few key techniques to ensure every editing project looks professional and your images perfect.

Once you have these skills mastered, you can really start to develop and grow as a creative.

Over the next few pages werun through all of the key Photoshop tools and features that yousoon find yourself unable to live without. Follow along for how to achieve the best photographic-style effects such as retro and cross processing, high-key summer lighting, textured overlays and even how to create polished high-end advertising pieces.

Wealso cover all of the key features and tools you ll need to get started. Read on whet your appetite and get inspired to delve further into the creative possibilities that Photoshop can offer.

Finding a style

Getting your photography work recognised is vitally important as a photographer. Your images need to stand out from the overwhelming amount of photographers who are now displaying their work on the web and over social networking sites. Developing a unique and easily recognisable style will ensure that you get the coverage you truly deserve, and mastering Photoshop will ensure this is the case.

On this page webe covering a selection of current styles that are hugely popular both creatively and commercially. Building on your Photoshop skills and then transferring what you ve learnt into your work will allow you to develop a style that you can easily apply across your entire portfolio. The style you choose to work with will need to suit the theme of your images, so don t be afraid to experiment but also keep in mind what message your trying to get across to the viewer.

The effects applied to your photos can be as wacky as you choose, but your images donneed to look overly Photoshopped to get great end results. Even small subtle tweaks like the high-key lighting effect can really make your portfolio stand out against the competition.

The key to finding a style is experimentation. Donbe too constrained, have fun and really explore what Photoshop has to offer. Combining Adjustment Layers and Layer Blend modes can produce stunning end results without hours spent staring at your computer screen. Get to grips with the few essential Photoshop functions explored here and you will realise how many amazing effects can be created quickly and easily regardless of your image-editing skill level.

Creative cross-processing

Cross processing is a simple technique to master, involving increasing the image contrast and dramatically altering the colour balance.

To do this we will use a Curves Adjustment Layer (Window> Adjustment Curves). Click onto the RGB drop-down menu and choose Red. Click onto the line adding two anchor points, move these creating an S shape. Repeat for the Green channel then swap to the Blue channel. Donadd any anchor points, just move the top-end downwards and the bottom left anchor point up enhancing the blues in the shadows. Play around with these settings then once happy, set this layer s blend mode to Color.

CURVES ADJUSTMENT

A simple curves adjustment for the red, green and blue channels work excellently to achieve the cross-processing effect

RED, GREEN AND BLUE

For the red and green colour channels, move the curve into an S shape. For the blue channel, move the top end of the line downwards, as shown here

Boost highlights and add blur for a high-key effect

Play with highlights

Creating high-key lighting effects is all about increasing the highlights in your photos and enhancing the foreground.

Firstly, duplicate the Background layer then hide the top layer. Click back onto the original background layer and add a subtle Gaussian Blur effect. Make both layers visible once more, then add a Mask to the top layer. With a low-opacity, soft-edged brush, paint away the area around the foreground object showing the blurred underneath layer, adding a sense of depth.

Now add a Curves Adjustment Layer set to Lighter in the top drop-down menu. If you want to strengthen the effect, continue to push the line upwards.

Add texture and Layer blends for more depth

Mix up your textures Creating striking images with depth is very simple. To begin, duplicate your Background Layer and go to the Layer Blend modes at the top of the Layers palette. Experiment with the options-Multiply and Vivid Light produce exceptional results, but for this image we have chosen to use Color Burn. _Double-click on the top layer once the Blend Mode has been applied and check the Texture option from the Layer Styles dialog box. We used a Stucco texture then on top of the Layers we added a Curves Adjustment Layer, bringing back some highlights and enriching the texture effect.

Clean and sleek advertising effects

Cut out and polish

For this effect, first isolate the object and then place it onto a white backdrop with a natural shadow.

Sharpen and then brighten with a Curves Adjustment Layer.

If you have a simple object to cut out, try the Quick Selection and Refine Edge tools. If, however, your object is more complex, then use the Pen tool.

Trace your object and save the Path. Make it an active selection and lift it from the Background layer. Make the Path an active selection once more, add a transparent layer underneath and fill the selection with black. Flip and position the layer, blur then use the Gradient tool on a Mask to soften.

Enhancements

The success of every enhanced image lies in the attention to detail. In photography, retouching portraits has become a crucial step in the process, with the ability to completely transform a shot. However it s all too easy to overdo it. The best attitude to have when retouching an image is that less is more-lots of small adjustments add up to make a big difference!

Professional image retouchers use a careful combination of Masking, Transforming and Blending modes in Photoshop to achieve flawless-yet-authentic results. When you begin to tackle this kind of task, you ll soon find yourself becoming very familiar with the Selection, Warp and Layer Mask tools.

The first things to focus on are the skin and hair regions-once you ve perfected these key areas, youhave the ultimate foundation to work from. The skin is especially important, but synthetic effects can strangle all realism in your image, and so excessive skin smoothing isnencouraged. Instead, using Channels and a little patience, you can easily work out those blemishes manually. The hair region can cause similar headaches, but once you ve mastered the techniques, iteasy to smooth out the strays.

If your shot is still in need of a lift, you can then start to manually apply some cosmetic enhancements. Use existing make-up as a marker, the grafting of eyelashes, face-shape changes and eye-colour alterations just a few clicks away.

The real key to making realistic enhancements in your image is to be honest about what you have to work with. Here, wetake you through the best ways to piece your portrait together and help you to fine-tune your application routine, for expertly retouched portraits in minutes.

Skin cleaning with Channels

Amateur retouching is littered with clumsy, synthetic-looking portraits with over-smoothed skin. The real trick isnto try and cover up blemishes, but take them out completely, which takes just a little bit more time and attention.

One way of achieving this is to use the Channels palette. Open up the palette and pick the channel that shows the greatest contrast in light value-which is Blue in this example. Duplicate your Channel then apply levels to increase the contrast and enhance skin texture. Now copy and paste this duplicate channel into your layers palette, then activate your model layer and use the new Channel layer as a visual guide for editing blemishes. Using the Clone stamp zoomed in at 200% works well. Switch the visibility of your Channel on and off to preview the results.

Hair fixing with Content-Aware

To get rid of stray hairs, make a selection around the edge of the model using the Pen tool. Choose Select> Modify> Feather> 5px, then hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate your selection into a new layer. Now make a new selection that extends beyond the fringes of the modelloose hairs, then activate your original model layer and press Shift+F5, applying Content-Aware Fill. This method is not always foolproof, so use the clone tool to clean up any strays.

You can further improve the look of hair with grafting’; Using the Lasso tool, select an area of hair then click Copy, Paste and place over the blemish. Hit Transform>Warp to reshape the new hair, and then integrate the edges with a Layer Mask to keep it looking natural.

Apply cosmetic enhancements

If your portrait needs a little more impact, you even create your own subtle make-up using Photoshop brushes.

To enhance modest eye and facial make-up, create a new layer and set it to Darken Blend mode. Select a colour by sampling the existing make-up on your model then activate the Brush tool. In the menu, apply a 10% Opacity with Multiply Blend mode then begin painting on top to gently enrich the tones. You can also use this technique to enhance the lips.

Finally, add in a healthier complexion by applying a Selective Color Adjustment Layer. Tweak Magenta and Yellow sliders in the Reds preset for a natural glow.

Enhancing the eyes

Adjusting the colour and sharpness of the eyes is important for creating a unified image. This can easily be achieved using the Elliptical Marquee tool. Make a selection and then tweak the Hue/Saturation sliders. Now use Sharpen> Smart Sharpen to enhance the eyes.

Cleaning and shaping the eye region is also just as important. The eyelashes and eyebrows are essential areas in a head shot, and so filling these will make for an immaculate final image. Simply copy and paste eyelashes, reposition and apply a Darken Blend mode. You can then edit any noticeable edges using a Layer Mask.

Fixing hair strands

To remedy any stray hairs lurking in your image, carefully apply the Clone Stamp tool, with the Blend mode set to Darken Blend. Zoom in to 200% and sample from even areas to even out the strands. However, this is a time-consuming process and remember that you can only do so much.

Modify face shape

Making subtle changes to the contour of a modelface is relatively simple and can make a big difference to a portrait. Start by making selections of the face edges and then modify using either the Warp option, or Filter> Liquify> Forward Warp tool. It s best to stick to small adjustments here, otherwise you might end up with some blurring.

The new Photoshop CS6 Liquify tool brush sizes are much larger and can manipulate more pixels, for sharper warping. You can also try straightening the jaw by copying and pasting a selection of this into a new layer, then modifying with the Warp option. Finish up by carefully integrating all edges with an applied Layer Mask.

Composites

When youout on a photoshoot, iteasy to make a mistake. Horizons may be wonky, lighting not set up efficiently or the rule of thirds may be forgotten. But, all of this can be corrected afterwards in Photoshop. You can even merge and composite several photos together to get the ultimate seamless image.

In the mini step-by-step below, we will show you that you can take the best parts of several photos and comp them together to achieve a brilliant, polished final image. No more dull skies, blurred foregrounds or poor conditions. We ll show you how to take specific sections within your photos and replace them with new and improved areas from another photo. Once the composition has been finalised, and the best parts of several photos pieced together, weshow you how to blend the different layers, match up colours and lighting effects before flattening and saving the final image.

The key to seamless photo blending is to match up the noise and sharpness levels and the colour and lighting tones using as many Adjustment Layers as necessary. The procedure sounds complex but once you have mastered it, you will be producing fantastically creative compositions in no time. For the best results, start building up your image stock library, you never know when a sunny holiday sky or model shot can be used to fix or create a new scene.

Swap in a sky with these simple steps

1 Open your images With your main image selected, source all other elements. In this example we want to add in a new sky. Open all of the images into Photoshop and select the Rectangular Marquee tool, draw over the area of sky you want to place into your main shot.

2 Cut out and position Drag and drop the selection into your main image. Resize and then hide this layer for now. Use the Pen tool to trace along the horizon line and land area, save the Path and then make it an active selection, Lift the selection onto its own layer.

3 Match settings Make all layers visible and place a Levels Adjustment Layer on each one. Clip it so it only affects the layer below. Tweak the settings to match the two layers’colours and brightness, then match noise settings and add a Curves Adjustment to the top of the stack.

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