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Let's go ahead and improve upon this portrait of our young girl. I'm going to start in Adobe Camera Raw, but you'll find very similar controls also available in Photoshop Lightroom. Let's be a little bit lazy and click the Auto button for a starting point. You'll see that PhotoShop pushed that neutral gray, and tried to make it white, leading to an overexposed image. I did this though, so you could see the clipping warnings, and these are enabled by clicking the triangles in the upper right corner. Notice we definitely have some clipping there in the highlights, as indicated by the red overlay.
Let's back that off a bit. Now as I did that you see the highlight clippings go away but we're seeing a warning for the shadows. This clipping is indicated by the blue overlay for the shadowy areas. That's going to register as pure black and when you print it, it won't reproduce accurately. You'll lose all sorts of detail. Lifting the black slider did a nice job of recovering that area. In this point I have no clipping in either the highlights or the shadows. That's looking pretty good. Let's put a little bit of clarity in to add some selective contrast, but be careful not to over do it.
If you add too much clarity, the skin tones will start to look really rough. And let's add a little bit of vibrance to bring out her skin color. That's looking good. What I want to do now is just a little bit of touch up. I can do that here in camera raw or in light room or in another application. Let's kick this over to Photoshop though and finish it there. I'll click the Open up object button to send it over. Lets start by going after a few of the stray hairs. I'll duplicate the layer, that can be done right-clicking, or pressing Cmd+J, or Ctrl+J and then right-click on the layer and rasterize it.
You'll note I still have the other version down below. Lets call that layer hair clean up. And I'll drag that layer in down below. Let's zoom in a little bit so we can see some of those stray hairs. Using the clone stamp tool, let's make sure the sample all layers option is chosen, as well make an empty layer to hold the strokes. This'll make it very easy to brush up and restore the image. But if I go too far or accidentally dig into the image it's easy to take the eraser tool and clean that up because it's on its own layer.
See, you see that gives you quite a bit of flexibility. Let's make a few quick strokes with a soft edge brush, and that's allowing me to clean up some of those stray hairs. I still want the hair to look natural, though, so don't overdo it. The goal here is just minimize the amount of fly aways. That's lookin good. Let's check the other side. There's a few there that we can clean up. Now remember, it's important to keep your sample points parallel so the lighting variations in the backdrop carry over accurately into the new strokes. But I really like that this is on its own layer.
It makes it much easier to control the strokes as well as touch them up. If i accidentally draw something I don't need. That's looking pretty good, let's toggle that off and on for comparison. That looks really good, we worked our way in there and picked up a lot of those stray hairs. Lets get rid of a few blemishes. I like her freckles a lot so we're going to preserve those but just do some minor touch up. Lets zoom in a further, you can use the zoom tool or press Cmd + or Ctrl +. Let's get rid of this stray hair. We'll switch over to the healing brush. Set to the brush to a really small brush stroke and then Option or click to set the sample point and you'll see that you can just paint that.
It samples the adjacent pixels and gently blends them together. It does a good job removing that stray hair. Remember this also is being done to sample all layers. Now if we make a mistake, or something looks too heavy, remember we can always go back in with the eraser tool, or another tool to clean that up. That's the benefit of keeping everything isolated to its own layer. Let's leave the hairline alone. But we'll do a couple of touch up strokes up here. Now, by following the hairline and some of the stray hairs, it's pretty easy to touch things up. Now there's a few hot spots on the skin, so let's tone those down a bit.
Let's make another new layer and then select the Healing brush. I'll sample from one area of her skin to another. Paint over the hot spot just to blend it. That's looking good. This zone here in the forehead is also another good place to touch up, to get rid of some of the hot spots. You see the healing brush does a great job, especially when you sample from areas of the forehead that are nice and even. It's done a great job removing those blemishes and really smoothing that out so it blends better. Be careful to preserve the skin detail. Many people overdo this. I'm going to leave some of those blemishes in there.
Lets just remove some of the ones that are most pronounced. Now by toggling that layer on and off you can see we've smoothed out some of the hot spots on the forehead. Let's zoom in and select a soft brush. I'm just using the Option or the Alt key to sample, and then brush in some additional gentle touch up. That's looking good. Let's just touch up the teeth a bit, make them a bit brighter. Using the Magic Wand tool, I'll click to select the teeth. Switch over to quick mask mode by pressing the letter q. That makes it easy to see what you have selected. You can now grab a paint brush and brush in strokes to refine the selection.
Let's remove a bit of the gumline. Flip over to white. And paint in some of the area that's missing. Pressing d will load black and white. And you can use the x key to toggle between the two colors. Trying to find a good balance of getting the teeth selected, and not too much more. An extra tip. Trying using a lower opacity brush to have a blended zone between the selected and non selected areas. Remember, you can use the X key to switch between black and white. And just paint to continue to refine the selection of the teeth. All right, that looks good.
I think that's a reasonably accurate selection. Press the q key to exit the quick mask mode and you can see the marching ants indicating the selection. Click the curves button in the adjustment layer panel to add a curves adjustment. Choose the on image tool, and then click in your image to add a control point. Drag up to lift the brightness. That was a very gentle and natural looking adjustment. The teeth got brighter, without everything getting desaturated which looks more natural. A little bit of tint to the color of the teeth. Let's continue to add a few points, and brighten that up just a bit more.
If needed, I could pull the shadows back down, to add some of the line detail back into the teeth. I can click the visibility icon there to toggle the before and after state, to gauge the adjustment. That's definitely working. And because it uses a mask, I could touch up some of the stray areas, like the gum line here, that's becoming a bit affected. Let's paint that back in. Same up here in the corner, where it transitions from the gum to the tooth. Let's try a brush set to 20% opacity, to build that up gently. That looks good. You can also try the blur tool to just go ahead and soften up the transition area.
That really does a good job smoothing that. There we go, her teeth look good, nice and bright. Now let's brighten the eyes just a little bit. Select the current layer, press Cmd or Ctrl+A to select all, and then create a merge copy, and then paste the merge copy in. Let's put that layer just above a bit. And then switch it to screen mode, so it adds up the brighter values. Now, what that did is brightened everything up. Don't worry about these other areas. We're just going to get the eyes here, and we'll start to mask this out. Hold down the Option or Alt key.
And click on the Add mask button to add a mask that's already filled. Then, choose your paintbrush tool. Click on the mask thumbnail and you can paint with the white brush set to 100%. Zoom in so you're into the eye area, and then you can start to brush. Now, this is a bit bright, so it's going to look a little bit racoon eyes to start, but don't worry about it. We'll fix that transition by adjusting the opacity. Just try to brighten up the eye region with accurate brush strokes. We're going after the whites of the eye and some of the areas where shadows tend to pop up.
That's looking good. Now just lower the opacity of that layer down to about 35%. You see it nicely brightened up the eyes, and just filled them in with a little more light. That's looking great. Let's go ahead and crop this image with the crop tool. Let's go with a 4 by 5, or 8 by 10 crop. As I position that crop, you'll see it gives you interactive feedback with the guidelines. Let's place that eye at the intersection point, then uncheck the option to delete the cropped pixels. Click the Commit button to apply the crop. You see that all the layers come across intact. Let's build that back up. First, you'll see the base layer.
Then we had an adjustment on the teeth. We brightened up the eyes a little bit. Let's smooth that out a bit by blurring the mask. I'll just click on the thumbnail and then choose filter, blur, Gaussian blur. That's going to blend things just a bit. Let's soften that by increasing the radius. You see we get a nice interactive preview there. That looks good. We touched up the stray hairs and then did a little bit of cloning on the forehead there with the healing brush to smooth things out.
I like what I have but let's go ahead and get a flattened version. So I'll choose select all and then edit, copy merge, paste it on top. Let's go ahead and filter that layer. Choose Filter, convert for Smart Filters. Click, OK. Now let's apply the Camera Raw Filter as an actual filter which is a new option available in Photoshop CC. If you don't have this you can go ahead and skip this step. This gives me some great flexibility. In fact I could take advantage of some of the adjustments I used before like clarity.
I could recheck clipping using the black and white sliders as well as the clipped pixel indicator. You see there's a little bit of clipping in the blacks there. So lets lift those up a bit. I could jump over to the effects tab and actually apply a post-cropping here. I like that. That really puts the focus back in on our subject. We can even go over to the lens correction tab and take advantage of any adjustments to remove chromatic aberration or lens distortion. Doesn't look like there's any chromatic aberration here. Lets add a little bit of contrast with a curve. We'll lift the mid tones up a bit, then we could refine that with a little more vibrance to bring out her color. Clicking, OK, it applies the filter. Remember, you can always go back to the original by unchecking that layers visibility icon. Or use the Opacity slider to blend the two results together to get something a bit more natural. I think that looks pretty good, blending the top copy at 60%. We'll call that a good first pass that's ready to show to the client.
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