Photoshop tutorials for professionals and beginners
Portrait Photoshop tutorial

Create eye catching portraits in Photoshop

In this tutorial I’ll show you basic beauty retouching techniques that will help you enhance a portrait image. You will learn how to clear blemishes from the skin, how to apply makeup and enhance feature like the eyes or lips. Going beyond the “normal” retouching process we will show you how to add more glamour to your portrait by adding eyelids jewels using stock images.

Retouching a portrait is all about enhancing features like the eyes, lips and skin without making them look fake. To achieve that we will use the Dodge/Burn tools to reshape the lighting on the hair to give more volume and on the eyes and lips to make them more attractive.

Color changes will be made using adjustment layers like Color Balance for more control and also to maintain a non-destructive workflow. You will use a custom Clone Stamp brush to duplicate details on the scene and the Lighting Effects filter for final illumination enhancements.

Final effect

Stock used

Portrait, Jewels

Download source files and original video

Video version

Step 1 – Cleaning the portrait

The first task on making a portrait stand out is to remove any blemishes on the skin. I used the Spot Healing Brush tool for that to remove highlights, tiny highlight pixels around the eyes and forehead and the Mixer Brush tool to soften the skin.

Step 2 – First color change

Start changing the mood of your image by using adjustment layers. We used a Gradient Map to remap the colors on the shadows and highlights. The default Violet to Orange gradient was used but we changed the orange to #ecaf68. Set the layer’s blend mode to Softlight at 30% Opacity.

Step 3 – Adjust contrast

Adjust the contrast of the image using Levels or Curves. The highlights on this images were a bit washed out so I brightened them to 235 using Levels. The Midtones were also brightened slightly to 1,05 so that the whole image looks a bit brighter.

Step 4 – Ornamental brushes

I used a round hard brush to manually paint with black a few dots under the eyes. Make the brush progressively smaller for each dot. Then duplicate the layer for the right eye and mask as needed. Use the Softlight blend mode at 100% Opacity.

Step 5 – Rough makeup painting

To create the eye shadow makeup we used a big soft brush. The color used doesn’t really matter, try different color intensities until you get the tone right. On another layer, do the same with the bottom part of the eyes using another color. The blend mode used is Overlay.

Step 6 – Refining the makeup

Use soft brushes with low opacity when using the Dodge/Burn tools and when masking the makeup. Make several passes and build up the intensity of the effect gradually.
 Once you have the rough painting, use layer masks on both layers to refine the makeup. To get a  realistic makeup effect use a big soft brush on the layer mask and a low Opacity on the brush, about 25%. Use Hue/Saturation to choose the color of the makeup.

When working on portrait retouches do not overdo the adjustments. Make subtle changes and use the Opacity setting to reduce the effect. Turn layers on and off for quick preview.

Step 7 – Dodging and Burning

Create a new layer and go to Edit>Fill and fill with 50% Gray. Change the layer’s blend mode to Overlay and use the Dodge/Burn tools on this layer with an Exposure of 3-5%. Dodge the highlights and Burn the shadows using medium sized soft brush.

EnhancementsControlled color changes
The dodge and burn tools are excellent for enhancing features. Used on very low Expoure (3-6%) you can reshape the structure of the body by dodging the highlights and burning the shadows. You can make the eyes stand out a lot more by heavily dodging the eye lids and iris of the eye with a small soft brush and a higher Exposure value of 20-30% depending on the image. This technique can also be applied on the lips and hair.
The Color Balance and Selective Color adjustment layers are better when making color corrections because they give you more control. Selective Color gives you full control over a wide range of color channels but it’s a bit more complicated to use. Color Balance allows you to change the amount of color for three different channels independently: Lights, Midtones and Shadows. This makes it ideal for making color changes that affect one specific channel and creating artistic color mixes.

 Step 8 – Enhance eyes and hair

Increase the Exposure of the tool to about 25% and reduce it’s size. Using the same layer filled with gray dodge the eye lids to make them brighter. Use the dodge tool on the hair highlights as well. Duplicate this layer for a stronger effect.

Step 9 – Color Balance

The purpose of the Color Balance adjustment is to add a color cast to the entire image. We made the image colder especially on the Shadows and Midtones by adding more Cyan and Blue. The amount of color added on each channel depends on your preferences.

Step 10 – Lips color

Change the color of the lips using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Fill the layer mask with black and then paint with a white brush to reveal the effect only on the lips. Use the three sliders to adjust the color intensity and brightness.

Step 11 – Details using jewels

Use the provided jewel stock image to make the image more interesting. Scale the jewel stone to suit your needs and then duplicate as many times as needed. You can change the color with Hue/Saturation. Apply a small amount of Drop Shadow for more realism.

Step 12 – Clone duplicates

Use the Clone Tool to duplicate the rose on the model’s hair. Avoid making an exact replica of the rose by changing the clone source properties from Window>Clone Source. Alt+Click the original rose and paint on a new layer to create the new rose.

Step 13 – Final light effect

Create an empty layer and press Shift+Control+Alt+E to merge all layers on the new empty layer. Apply the Lighting Effects filter on this layer from Filter>Render>Lighting Effects. The purpose of this final effect is to darken the corners and draw attention on the face.

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