Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Brightening and whitening, part of Photoshop Image Cleanup Workshop.
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In this lesson, we're going to take a look at a method for brightening and whitening areas of an image. In this case, I want to improve the appearance of the overalls the people in this photo are wearing, but the same approach you'll see here could also be used to brighten and whiten teeth, improve the appearance of the whites of the eyes for a subject, or any other situation where you want to make white areas. Up here more white, I am going to start off by removing the dingy color cast in the overalls. I am going to add a new layers, so I will click on the Create new layer button at the bottom of the layers panel, and I am going to change the blend mode for this layer to color this will cause the current layer to only affect the color in the underlying image. So I will go ahead and remain this layer or simply call it Color fix in this case. Then I'm to going choose the brush tool and I need to paint with a neutral color it can actually be any shade of gray I'd like, black, white, middle gray or any shade in between.
I'll then paint inside the overalls, and because I'm painting with a perfectly neutral color in this case it happens to be black, but any shade of gray would be perfectly fine. I'm actually removing color from the underlying image. I'm essentially whitening up the whites in terms of the colorcast. Obviously, I'm not brightening them up at all at the moment. I'm simply taking away that dingy sort of yellowish color that's present there. I'll go ahead and continue painting throughout the overalls here. And when I'm finished with this, we can take a look at the actual result that we've accomplished.
I'll paint in a few more areas here. I can adjust my brush size as I go, using the left and right square bracket keys as needed. And I think that's a pretty good job at this point. If I turn off the visibility for my color fix layer and then turn it back on, you can get a better sense, we've gone from this relatively dingy yellow appearance to a more neutral appearance. However, I'd also like to brighten up the whites in this image and that calls for a separate layer. I'll go ahead and add a new layer. This time I'm going to hold the ALT key on Windows or the option key on Macintosh while I click on the create new layer button and that way I'll get the new layer dialog so I can adjust the properties for this layer. And I'm just going to call this brighten.
And I'll change the blend mode to overlay in this case. And I'll go ahead and click okay. The overlay blend mode that I'm using for this brighten layer is a contrast blend mode, and it actually allows me to brighten or darken the image, effectively dodging and burning. I'm going to press the D key, to make sure I have my default colors of black and white, and then I'll press the letter X to set the foreground color to white, rather than black. And now I can paint in the image. Now initially, you'll see that the brightening effect is extreme, I'm very much brightening the result here. Not producing a very good result at all, but I'm going to be able to tone this down in just a moment.
I'll go ahead and finish painting on just one person's overalls here, so that we can get a sense of the effect, with a little bit better result. And that looks pretty good. So I'm going to go to my Layers panel now, and I'll simply reduce the opacity for my brighten layer. So when I'm painting with white and I'm painting, by the way, with a 100% opacity with my brush using a soft-edged brush the result is very extreme. But if I reduce the opacity on the brightened layer using the control at the top-right of the layers panel, I can reduce the effect of that brightening.
So taking it down all the way to 0%, we'll see the original image in terms of brightness. And as I increase, moving the slider over to the right a little bit here, we'll see that we're able to get a good effect. Just brightening a little bit, I don't want to go too far with this. Now that I can see the effect a little bit better and I'm happy with it, I can continue painting within the overalls of the other people here to brighten up those areas of the image as well. It really doesn't take too much to produce a very nice improvement in the image. One of the common mistakes is to get a little heavy handed with this sort of approach and apply too much of a brightening to the image.
In some cases,actually, too much of a whitening. For example, in some cases you might want to reduce the opacity of the color fix layer as well so that things don't too neutral, artificially neutral. But in this case I think we can get away with completely removing the color and then just brightening to a small degree. There are of course a variety of ways you could approach brightening and whitening in an image. The approach I presented here offers a good degree of flexibility, is relatively easy to employ. And can be applied in many different circumstances to improve an image.
- The ethics of cleanup
- Reviewing the image
- Nondestructive cleanup
- Cleanup tools and techniques
- Removing strong color casts
- Gradient adjustments
- Extending the frame
- Using multiple exposures to remove subjects from an image