Adobe Photoshop is used to retouch almost every professional image before it makes its way to the public eye. People are editing and enhancing their images more which makes Adobe Photoshop retouching an essential design skill. Below are ten Photoshop retouching tips that will help you transform your images quickly and professionally:
If you're shooting your own work always make sure you photograph using the camera's RAW format capture. Amongst many other advantages, the high bit depth of a RAW format file provides much better tone and colour gradation than the equivalent image taken using the camera's JPEG file format. The excellent shadow and highlight recovery in post-processing and the non-destructive workflow that Photoshop provides for handling RAW files make it the best possible starting point for retouching projects.
When processing files in the Camera RAW dialog box in Photoshop, hold the Shift Key down on the keyboard to change the Open to 'Open Object' instead. Using the Open Object option will embed a copy of the RAW file inside the Photoshop document as a Smart Object Layer. If you want to make changes at any point to the RAW Camera settings for the image, go to the Window menu, then Layers Panel and double click on the Smart Object Thumbnail. The Camera RAW dialog box will re-appear. Make the necessary changes and click the Update button to update the version embedded inside the Photoshop project.
When looking to give your subject a new eye colour, you don't need to make selections and apply an Image Adjustment command. Instead, you can use the Paintbrush tool and the Hue /Color Blend Modes to re-colour your image. How to do that? Create a new empty Layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift +N ) above your original image. Select the Brush tool (B) and in the toolbox, mix the new required colour for the eyes. On the new Layer, paint with the Brush tool over the areas you'd like to colour change. In the Layers Panel, access the Blend Modes, and select the Colour Blend Mode from the list. The Colour Blend Mode replaces the Hue and Saturation values of the pixels in the underlying image with the values from your new paint colour, whilst leaving the brightness values in the original image unchanged.
When removing blemishes and wrinkles using the Clone and Heal tools you should always try to work on a separate Layer whilst retouching. However, the Clone and Heal tools only copy pixels from the active Layer in the image. So, if you create an empty Layer, they won't be able to sample pixels from the original image underneath. To work around this problem, go to the Options Bar for the Clone or Heal tools, and set the Sample menu to All Layers. This allows you to copy pixels from any Layer in the document but paints the changes on to your Retouching Layer.
When working with the Clone and Heal tools, you can rotate the angle of the sample image as it's painted on to a new location. This is particularly useful if you're cloning or healing along a curved subject edge in an image. With the Clone tool, Alt/Option-click to define a sample in the image, then move to the area you'd like to work on. Use the shortcut Alt+Shift+keys to rotate the sample image either CW or CCW inside the brush preview. Begin to paint to clone the pixels at the rotated angle.
Like the Clone and Heal tools, the Dodge and Burn tools also won't normally work on an empty Layer. However, you can replicate their effect quite easily, using the Paintbrush tool and the Soft Light Blend Mode. Create an empty Layer above your image (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N). In the Layers Panel, set the Blend Mode to SOFT LIGHT. Set the Foreground/Background colours (in the toolbox) to default Black/White colours (press the 'D' key). To lighten details such as the whites of the eye, paint with WHITE colour over the image and low opacity (10-20%) with the Brush tool. To darken details such as the brow in the image above, paint with BLACK colour instead.
Photoshop offers a range of Brush shortcuts that you can use with any painting or retouching tool. To quickly alter the size and hardness values without the Options Bar, use Ctrl+Alt click (Mac) or Alt+Right click (PC) anywhere on the document window to bring up the HUD brush preview. Drag left/right with the mouse to alter the current brush size. Then, drag up/down to alter the brush hardness value.
Use the following tip to quickly add a cool contemporary desaturate effect to any image. In the Window menu > Adjustments Panel, create a Black and White Adjustment Layer above your image. Adjust the Hue sliders to achieve the desired grey tones from the original image colours. Then, go to the Window menu > Layers Panel and adjust the Layer Opacity to a lower value (try 6-70%) to grade the colour and monochrome Layers to a blended result. This technique also works well with many other Adjustment Layer types, such as the Gradient Map or Photo Filter commands to quickly create subtle colour toned effects.
The Liquify Filter is essential for sculpting changes to figure shape and outline in any retouching project. But if you're working with a high-resolution image, it can be slow to process changes when working with the sculpting tools. To speed up the processing workflow, use the following tip. First, open your image and use the Image menu > Image Size command to produce a lower resolution version of the image. Go to Filter > Liquify and apply the necessary changes to the image. On the right side of the dialog box, make sure Advanced Mode is enabled, then use the Save Mesh command to export a mesh deformation file (.msh). Click OK or Cancel. Now open the high-resolution version of the original image, go to Filter > Liquify and use the Load Mesh command to apply the saved .msh file to the image. Many Liquify distortions can translate well between high and lower-resolution versions of the same image.
Smart Filters were introduced in Photoshop CS3, allowing non-destructive Filter effects to be applied to images. Even now it's surprising how many people don't use the approach when working in Photoshop. The following tip shows how easy it is to apply selective sharpening to a portrait using a Smart Filter approach.
Open your image and go to the Filter menu > Convert for Smart Filters command. Next, go to the Filter menu > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask Filter. Set the required Amount and click OK.
Sharpening a portrait image often works best when only applied around the eyes. To control where the sharpening is seen in the image, go to the Window > Layers Panel. Click on the Filter Mask and use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert the Mask to black. I will temporarily hide the Filter effect from view.
Now select the Brush tool (B). Set WHITE as the painting colour and begin to paint over the eyes to reveal the sharpening Filter effect just in those areas. If you reveal too much sharpening on the skin tones, select BLACK as the paint colour and paint to hide the Filter effect again.
These Photoshop retouching tips are just a few examples of what Adobe software is capable of. Take a look at our Photoshop Courses if you want to learn how to improve your design skills and create powerful imagery that meets professional industry standards.
by Cristina Moraru | 22 Feb 21
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