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In Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training, Jan Kabili highlights the key features of this comprehensive image organization and photo enhancement application. She shows how to correct and enhance photographs, and how to organize a growing collection of digital photos. The course also explains how to use photos in creative projects like photo books, calendars, and greeting cards, and how to share work online and in print. Exercise files accompany the course.
The new Perfect Portrait Guided Edit is like getting a free makeover. When you're working on a portrait, this Guided Edit will walk you step-by-step through a series of techniques to soften skin, remove blemishes, brighten eyes, even slim down a face. As you can imagine, this is my favorite Guided Edit. Let's see how it works on this portrait of me. I've opened the photo into Guided Edit and now I'll go to the column on the right and I'll go down to the Fun Edits and I'll click on Perfect Portrait. That opens these instructions.
I'm just going to start at the top and work my way down through the many instructions in this Guided Edit. The first portion of the instructions is all about enhancing the texture of the skin. I'll start by blurring the skin, and then I'll just paint that blur in where I wanted on the face. So, as the instructions say, I'll click Apply Smart Blur, and that opens the Smart Blur filter dialog box. I'm going to click in the preview there and drag down, so that I can see my face. What I want to do here is make sure that this preview is really blurry, so blurry that I really can't see the wrinkles and blemishes on the face.
I'm going to leave the settings at their defaults with the exception of the Threshold slider, which I'll drag to the right to make the photo more blurry. I'll put it about there and then I'll click OK, and now you can see the blur here in the Document Window. If you're wondering why the edge of the face is a little bit bumpy, it's because Elements has zoomed me into an uneven percentage. It's done that, so that I can work with the Blur Brush which is in the next step, on the entire image. Next, I'll click Reveal Original and that brings back the unblurred version of the portrait.
And then, I'll click on the Blur Brush here in the instructions, and I'm going to use this brush to paint the blur back in just over my skin. There are some suggestions here for making the brush work better. One of those is to go up to the Options bar and to reduce the Opacity from 100% down to around 50%, and that will allow me to brush the blur in more gradually. The instructions also tell me to avoid brushing on top of my eyes and lips, because I want those to remain sharp. So, I'll click and drag with this brush over my forehead, and you can see that it's blurring the skin there, making it look softer.
In order to avoid the eyes, I'm going to make my brush tip smaller by pressing the Left Bracket key on my keyboard several times. That's the key just to the left of the P key. And then I'll continue on smoothing out the skin on the face. Around the eyes, I'll need to make the brush even smaller, and when I get to the neck, I'll make it bigger again by pressing the Right Bracket key. Now, if I make a mistake and I paint over something that I don't want to blur, say my necklace here, that's okay, because I can step back click by click by going up to the Edit menu and choosing Undo.
Now, it says Undo Eraser because the Blur Brush is really erasing the original image, so that we can see down through to the blurred copy below. So, I'll click once on Undo Eraser, and that will take me back before I painted over the necklace. In order to make the portrait look more natural, I want to increase contrast in the midtones. To do that, I'll click the Increase Contrast button here in the instructions, and I can do that more than once if necessary. Now I'm going to scroll down to see some more instructions. The next part of the instructions is all about enhancing the facial features.
First, I'll select the Spot Healing tool, which I can use to remove blemishes and fix small flaws. I'll move into the image and I want my brush tip to be just bigger than the blemish that I want to remove. I'll click on that blemish and in just a second it's gone. If you look up in the Options bar, you'll see that the Spot Healing Brush is using a brand-new technology in Elements 9 called Content-Aware Fill, and it does a great job of removing these small flaws on my face. I'm going to skip over the next tool, the Red Eye Removal tool, because I don't have any red eye effect in this image, since it was taken in natural light without camera flash.
I'll go down to the next tool which is the Dodge tool, which I can use to brighten the eyes. I'll move into the image and I'm going to make my brush tip a little smaller, so it's no bigger than the inside of my eye, and then I'll click and drag over that area. I'll do the same on the other eye, and that both lightens and brightens the eyes. The next tool is the Burn tool, which I could use to darken the lashes and brows as if I were adding a little makeup. I don't wear much makeup in real life. So, I'm going to go up to the Options bar and I'm going to reduce the Exposure.
I'll click and drag over the word Exposure, and I'll bring it down to maybe 33%. And then with a small brush tip, I'll click and drag over my upper lids, and my lower lids, to darken the lashes there. I might bring the Exposure down even more to do the eyebrows, and then I'll click and drag to darken the brows a bit. I can use the same tool to add a little lipstick by dragging over my lips, and then I'll go onto the next tool which is the Whiten teeth tool.
I'll select that and then I'll move into the image and with a really small brush, I'm going to click on my teeth and drag. This tool works like the Quick Selection tool or the Whiten teeth tool in the Quick Fix workspace. It both selects and brightens at the same time. Here, the tool selected more than just my teeth; it also got some of my upper lip. So, I'm going to go up to the Options bar and I'll click on this Minus symbol to subtract the lip from the selection, and then I'll come and drag over my lip, so that only my teeth are selected and whitened.
Then I'll press Ctrl+D on my keyboard, that's Command+D on a Mac keyboard, to delete that selection. The next step is optional, and that is to add a glow to my face. To show you how that works, I'll click Add Glow, and that opens this large Filter Gallery dialog box with the Diffuse Glow Filter selected. Over here, on the right, are some options that I can use to control the amount of glow which is previewed over here on the left. If I drag the Glow Amount slider way over to the right, you can see that I get this kind of glamour portrait glow.
I think that's a bit much, so I'm going to back off on that. Maybe I'll leave it at about level 3, and I can also add Graininess to add to that glamour effect. Actually I like a little less Graininess like that. And if I want to bring more clarity back into the image, I can drag the Clear Amount slider to the right, and that makes it look a little more natural. When I'm done, I'll click OK. And then, I'm going to zoom in to 100% by selecting the Zoom tool and clicking 1:1 to smooth out the edge of the skin.
The last effect is also an optional one, and that is to attempt to slim down the face by clicking the Slim button. Well, that sounds good to me. So, I'll click once, and if I want I can try a second click, but I think that's a bit much. So I'll go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and I'll undo one of the slims. I'm going to scroll down to the bottom of the instructions, where there is a Reset button. So, if I really hate this result, I can click this button to go all the way back to the beginning and I can start again. But I like the result, so I'll click Done, and all that's left to do would be to save and close the image by clicking the X here on the Document window.
As you've seen, this Guided Edit has a lot of steps. It's managed to simplify a number of different techniques that would have taken me much longer to apply manually in the Full Edit workspace. Before you share portraits online or in print, consider running them through this Perfect Portrait Guided Edit, and then, prepare yourself for compliments and thanks from your family and friends.
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