Today I thought I'd share with you my editing workflow, as well as some of my most-used actions and curves for Photoshop. First thing you're going to want to do is get photoshop, if you don't have it yet. You can get a download of Photoshop CS2 Here for free (you just need to make an adobe account). Its an old version, but it works!
I'm going to show you how to do the following in Photoshop;
1. Crop your photos
2. Adjust brightness/contrast and color balance
3. smooth out skin imperfections
4. load and use curves and actions
5. brighten the eyes
6. Resize & save your photo
One thing to note with photoshop is that there are many, many ways to achieve the same thing, some ways easier than others. Please keep in mind that this is simply how I choose to edit my photos, and I'm not neccessarily saying it is the best way. I have no formal training in photoshop, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment!
This seems stupid to mention, but I always make sure I do this first. Click the crop tool, click & drag around the areas you want to keep, and then press enter.
Again, something very simple that can really impact your photos. To get to the brightness and contrast window, select Image > Adjustments > Brightness/contrast.
Use the slider to adjust your photo - it will preview on your image automatically. When you increase the brightness of your photo, make sure you also increase the contrast! Otherwise, it will look washed-out. When you are happy, click 'ok'.
Next, adjust any colour imbalances. This photo is colour-balanced fairly nicely, but sometimes the lighting can turn a photo very red (or maybe that's just my lobster-skin always peeking through). Go to image > Adjustments > Color Balance.
Drag the sliders towards the opposite end of the color that your photo has too much of. For example, if this photograph was too red, I would adjust it toward the cyan side to counteract the redness.
I try not to go crazy with this, but sometimes I get a massive pimple that I just need to get rid of. I use the Spot healing tool to quickly get rid of pesky skin imperfections. First, zoom in nice and close to the area by clicking ctl and + at the same time. Then select the spot healing tool from the toolbox.
Next, set the brush diameter and size from the drop-down menu. The settings below are the ones that work best for me, but you will most likely need to adjust the diameter depending on how big of an area you want to fix. Keep it as small as possible.
click the spot you want and release. It will turn gray, then hopefully magically remove the blemish. This can also be used to remove small wrinkles by dragging it over the area. (If you aren't getting good result with this, see the next image!)
Sometimes the spot healing tool samples the wrong area and gives you a result that doesn't blend in with the rest of the skin. In this case, you can select the spot healing brush tool (click on the spot haling tool and hold until the menu pops up) and select the area to sample manually by alt-clicking on an area with the same tone.
Here I will show you how to load a curve or an action and apply it to an image.
Curves - first you are going to need to find some curves to use. I love Julia Trotti's blog for awesome free curves. You can download them straight from that link and she shows before and after shots of each curve so you can get a feel for them. After you've got some, You need to drag and drop your curve files into computer > program files > adobe > adobe photoshop > presets > curves.
First open the curve box by selecting image > adjustments > curves.
Next, load the curves you have by clicking the 'load' button.
Navigate to where your curves are saved and select the one you'd like.
The curve will preview automatically. If you don't like it, click 'load' again and select a new one. When you are happy with the curve you've selected, pree 'ok'. I won't be using a curve today, but you get the idea.
Actions - Actions have a few more capabilities that curves and can really cut down your editing time. I find the best ones you do have to pay for, but some companies have some 'trial' packs that you can download for free to decide if you like them. I use the trial pack from Little Lusker fairly often because I like their 'clean edit' action. If you 'like' them on facebook and share their page you can download it for free. These actions are very easy to use and she keeps them tidy in one folder for you, which is great - I highly recommend purchasing a pack if you do like them and have the use for them. Otherwise, you can find them in several different places - you just have to look around.
Alright, now that you have actions downloaded, move them into the preset actions folder (computer > program files > adobe > adobe photoshop > presets > actions). Next, open the actions window if it isn't already open.
Next, load your actions by clicking the arrow in the top right corner of the actions window, and selecting 'load'.
To run an action, press the 'play' button. The action will run and you are left with a layer that shows the changes. Sometimes, if you have a not-so-good action, they don't add a neat little folder with all the actions inside. I tend to not like using those as sometimes they can 'damage' the original file.
This one is not always neccessary, and can look easily very fake if you are too heavy-handed. Play around with it and see what you like! We are going to use two tools to make this happen - Dodge, and burn. One lightens the light bits in the iris and the other darkens the pupil and darker colors to create contrast.
First, zoom in nice and close on the eyes by holding ctrl and + at the same time. Then, select the Dodge tool from the toolbox.
Next, set the brush diameter and hardness from the drop-down menu. The settings below are the ones that work best for me, but you will most likely need to adjust the diameter depending on how big of an area you want to lighten. Keep it as small as possible, I find that gives the best results.
Run the dodge tool over the lighter areas of the iris - under the pupil, and where the eye is naturally lighter. Try not to go too overboard with this step. If you have darker eyes, try lowering the 'hardness' of the brush to achieve a more natural look (I have mine set at zero because I have darker green eyes). If you have lighter eyes, you can try increasing the hardness.
Next, select the burn tool by clicking on the dodge tool and holding until the menu pops up. You want to select the one that looks like a hand!
Again, set the brush diameter and hardness. These are what I have mine set at.
Run the burn tool over the dark parts of the eyes - the pupul, around the dark outer ring of the iris, and I like to do the base of the eyelashes as well. Again, a light hand is better here!
Zoom out by holding ctrl and - at the same time and take a peek!
Once you are happy with your photo, resize it to fit within your blog borders. Click image > adjustments > resize.
For my blog, I resize my images to 700px wide.Your blog may be different, so set it to whatever you need. then press ok!
Next, save your image for web by selecting file > save for web.
This will open up a big screen and let you change the file type you'd like to save it as, and the quality.
I set my options to the following
Press ok and you are done!
That's pretty much all I do for regular photos. This is nothing crazy, and if you already know photoshop, this is probably kind of boring and straightforward. A lot of people don't know the basics though, so this should get you through if you don't!
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