Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. This week we're going to take this image and convert it to a high-key, high- contrast portrait shot like this one here, in which I've selectively clipped some of the shadow detail but nary a single highlight. So we have this wonderful volumetric detail. Let me show you exactly how it works. In this movie, I'm going to show you how to take a standard portrait shot, like this one from Jason Stitt of the Fotolia Image Library, and we're going to selectively convert it to a high-key, high-contrast effect like this one here.
And you can see that I'm turning entire regions of this portrait black. So I'm selectively clipping the black inside the hair, inside what was formerly that purple sweater, inside the pupils of the eyes as well. So we have all kinds of bright details. However, we still have volumetric form in shading, so I'm not actually clipping anything to white inside of this shot. I don't have any blown highlights in other words. So it's a very careful, effective technique. I'm going to switch back to my original image here, and let's see how to build things up.
The first step is to convert the image to black and white, so I'm going to press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and click this black-white icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and I'm going to choose Black & White to bring up the New Layer dialog box. I'll go ahead and call it B&W and click OK. And then the next step is to work with the sliders inside the Adjustments panel. Now, regardless of skin tone, regardless of race, creed, what we think of this color, all that jazz, we're all actually orange people. So the biggest differences you're going to make are to the reds and yellow sliders.
So if you want to brighten up a face, any face, then you go ahead and increase both red and yellow. And so I'm going to take red up to 130 and I'm going to take yellow up to 100 in order to brighten up the face fairly significantly as you can see in the background. Then I'm going to blast the greens because the greens are going to help light up the background. I want to essentially blow out that background, so it's entirely white. I'm going to take the cyans up a little bit, not too high. If I go too high with the Cyans value, you can see that I end up creating some pretty harsh transitions inside the hair.
So I'm going to take that value down to 40, where this image is concerned. Then I'll tab my way to the Blues value. Crank that all the way up. And then finally the Magentas value is responsible for the sweater, so notice if I take the value higher, I'm brightening the sweater. If I sync it down like so to its minimum value of -200, I'll send that sweater to black, which is exactly the effect I'm looking for. So I've already managed to get a lot of work done with this one adjustment layer. The next step is to start in with some dodge and burn. And the Dodge and Burn tools are static tools. They make permanent modifications to pixels inside the image.
So what you need to do is take what you've done so far and duplicate it to a new layer. And the keyboard shortcut for that is Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E, or Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac. We'll go ahead and merge all the visible layers onto a new layer, and I'll go ahead and call this one D&B-- of course for Dodge and Burn. And now I'm going to grab my Dodge tool. I'm going to zoom out a little, too, so I can take in the entire image. And I'm going to grab that Dodge tool, increase the size of my cursor pretty dramatically here, and then say that we're painting inside the face.
And I want to brighten the face up pretty significantly, as you can see, so I'll go ahead and paint around here and there. And all the while, incidentally, I've got the Range set to Midtones. The Exposure is set to 50%. And you may find as you work with the Dodge tool that 50% is a little bit much. You can tone that down if you want to by pressing a number key. For example, if I press the 3 key, I'll knock that down to 30%, and then I'll be able to apply some more modest changes to this image. Anyway, once I get to the point where I'm pretty happy, I'll go ahead and shift over to the Burn tool, which is going to darken up the details. And 50% is going to work out pretty beautifully for this effect.
I'm going to have to scrub, however, a few times inside the hair in order to darken it up. And I may find actually as I paint inside the hair that I'm not able to paint away the hair--make it as black as I want to in other words--unless I go ahead and change the settings that are at work here inside the Options Bar. So right now I'm burning the midtones, which means I'm darkening the middle luminance levels inside the image. If I want to darken the darkest stuff, which is all that's left inside the hair, then I would have to switch this option to Shadows. And then I'm going to be able to make that area absolutely black, which is what I'm looking for.
And then also it helps to protect the face as you can see, even though I'm painting into the face, I'm not really doing anything to it. So I'm just limiting my modifications to these very dark regions. All right. then I'll switch back to my Midtones once again. And I might darken some of these edges just a little bit to add some volumetric form, just to make sure that her face is sloping away at the edges and that the lighting is sloping as well, and that we're maintaining some of the natural shading as well. And once you get to a point such as this-- you can go as for as you want to of course-- but once you get to a point that you're happy with, go ahead and grab your background layer, your original image and jump at by pressing Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac.
And I'm going to call this layer Color, and I'll click OK, and I'm going to drag the Color layer to the top of the stack. And then I'll go up to my blend mode pop-up menu and change it from Normal to Color in order to restore some of the original color to this image. Now I like the original colors on the inside of the image, but I don't really want that blue around her hair, and I don't want this magenta around her sweater either. So I'm going to add a layer mask by clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon down here at the bottom of the Layers panel. And then I'll switch over to my Brush tool, which I can get by pressing the B key as well.
Now I'll increase the size of my cursor a little bit by pressing the Right Bracket key. I am also going to right-click inside the image window and show you that I have the hardness cranked all the way up to 100%, and that way I'm not introducing any softness in this mask, and I won't have sort of colors wandering in and out. I want to make some very definite decisions here. All right, so now with black as my foreground color I'll go ahead and just paint into these regions in order to paint these colors away. And I might as well paint all the way into the background over there, and then I'll paint over here as well on the right side of the image up into the hair, just to make sure that I don't have any color showing up in that region at all.
Now, it looks like my mask is a little bit of a mess, and if you feel like cleaning it up--I know I need to paint down here a little better, so that looks pretty good. But then I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+Click inside that layer mask, just so that I can view the mask by itself and clean up any of those rough areas outside. The fact that we have these scalloped edges around the image, that's not a problem. All right, so I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+Click once again inside that layer mask in order to return to the full-color image. Finally, I'll create a new layer by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N, Command+Shift+N on the Mac, and I'll call it Gradient and then click OK.
And I'll press the L key to switch to the Lasso tool, and I'm going to Alt+Click like so, in order to create a straight- sided polygonal outline. And then I'll Shift+Drag around this area to select it as well. And I'm going to go ahead and create a gradient inside that background, so I'll click on my Gradient tool to make it active. And currently my gradient is set to Foreground/Background, which is exactly what I want. I don't want, however, this Reflected Gradient. I want to be working with the linear gradient, so I'll select that.
And I want to change my foreground color, and I might as well lift the color from her face, because I want to have that kind of warmth going on in the background as well. So I'll press the I key to get my eyedropper, and then I'll click on one of the sort of darker, warmer color, such as--that region of her forehead there looks pretty good. And I might want to modify the Hue values a little bit here in the Color panel. I'm going to change the H value to 25 degrees and then the Saturation to 45% and finally, the brightness to 75%. And then I'll press the G key to switch back to the Gradient tool and draw a gradient down, about like that. I'm pressing the Shift key to constrain the angle of the gradient to exactly vertical for what that's worth.
And then I'll press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to deselect the image. Now of course that looks terrible, and that's because I haven't set the blend mode properly. So I'll go up to the Blend Mode pop-up menu there in the Layers panel, and I'll change it to Multiply in order to drop out those lights and sink the colors into the black background. And that is the final effect, folks. I'm going to go ahead and switch to the Full Screen mode and zoom in on the image. And there you have it, a method for creating a high-key, high-contrast portrait shot inside Photoshop.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
119 Video lessons · 47281 Viewers
117 Video lessons · 34225 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 80248 Viewers
116 Video lessons · 70175 Viewers