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Enhancing a portrait with hand-painted masks


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Enhancing a portrait with hand-painted masks

Let's continue, and take even further, this whole idea of how we can have hand painted masks, in order to modify different aspects of our image, and also let's add in a little bit how we can work with color. Well, here I have this portrait of two of my all time favorite people, my wife Kelly and my daughter Annika. They are sitting by a window, watching the snow fall up in the mountains. What I wanted to do is I want to improve this image just a little bit. Here is how I am going to do it. We are going to go ahead and navigate over to our Adjustment panel. I will click on the Curves icon.

Well the first thing I want to do is I want to darken the image up a bit. I feel like it's just a little bit too bright. So I'm going to go ahead and darken that here. Once I do that, I notice that I actually don't want to darken this portion of the face. I want to bring back some of the detail. Well in order to do that, I'll select the Brush tool by pressing the B key, and then I'm going to paint with black. In other words, I am going to paint on this mask to conceal part of this adjustment here. So in order to do that, I'm just going to go ahead and start to make some brushstrokes in these areas that I think would be nice to have back. And one of the things that we're going to do is take a look at how we can improve this, kind of as we go.

One thing that I might want to do here is I might want to change my Opacity of my brush for a couple of different areas. So I may do that in a second, but in the meantime, I am just going to go ahead and paint across a few of these little areas here, bringing in the original brightness and tone. If ever we make a mistake, we will hit the X key and then paint with white. That would then reveal the adjustment. Hit the X key again and I continue painting. And I am just going to make this really big there. I press the right bracket key that made my brush big.

I am just looking to modify few of these little areas in here and brighten up some of the areas that were little bit darker. All right. Well, so far so good. Let's take a look at how we're doing. Here we have our before and then our after. Another interesting way to view your mask is to Shift+,lick the Mask, which will temporarily disable it. Here is before, without the Mask, and then Shift+Click again. Here is with the mask. Well, my brushstrokes are a little bit too harsh, so I am going to go to my Mask panel and then increase the feather amount. That will than smooth out all those different brushstrokes, and I want to go to a place where I still have definition, but where those brushstrokes aren't too harsh.

Now, I need to use this Feather amount, because that was just been pretty quick about my brushstrokes, but this Feather slider can really help me sweeten up those brushstrokes that I made. Another thing that I notice is that there are some areas of the image that are just too bright, for example, the white here on the background and also the white on the window. That's not going to print very well. So I'll go ahead and click on the Adjustment layer icon and choose Curves. Now this time what I'm to do is go ahead and click on my top point and bring that down. I am going to exaggerate this for a second, but you can see that I'm bringing back detail into these areas.

It's a nice way to bring detail back, so we are just going to bring that down a little bit and then drag this point down. Well we don't want this to apply everywhere, so we'll go ahead and just take a look at those areas that we want to effect, so we are focusing on those, and then we are going to invert the Mask. Press Command+I on the Mac; Ctrl+I on the PC. Next, we want to paint with white, so we can either press X or click on this bent arrow icon here, grab our Brush tool, and then we can start to paint this new detail into this area of the photograph, so that will reproduce a little bit better.

I will go ahead and do a little bit over here as well. Just bring in a little bit more detail on this side and then also, I'll go ahead and bring in a little bit on this side of Annika, because I got just a little bit too bright over there. All right, well so far so good. Here we have our before and then our after. Once again, we can modify how far we want to go with this. I will bring this down a little bit more, just to darken that up even more here. Clicking and dragging down both of those points. Next, we will go to the Mask panel and just increase the Feather a little bit.

Again, it helps us when we are working quickly with our Brush tool, just to soften out those edges and sweeten things up. Well, the image is looking a lot better. The last thing that I want to do here is work on color. So let's go ahead and click on the Adjustment Layer icon and now choose Curves. At this juncture, I am going to start up by going to the Red channel, and I am going to click in the middle. Then I can use my arrow keys to nudge this up, just a little bit. I will go down to the Green magenta channel. Click in the middle, and then I'm going to click down with my down arrow key, and then I will go to the Blue Yellow channel, same thing, and here I am going to click down to add a little bit of yellow.

What I am trying to do is just find a way to warm this image up without really over powering it. I think it's looking better. Here is our before, and then here is our after. Now, if we went too far in any of these channels, simply go back to them, and then you can press your arrow key in order to modify this. Like perhaps I don't need all of that red, and again, I am looking for a real subtle change. Here is our before and then our after. Let's zoom in a little bit closely so we can see that; again, before and then after. Subtle yet significant color change.

Now, perhaps I should make this a little more dramatic so that you guys can see it here. I am going to increase my Reds, and my Blues, and Yellows and just make this a little bit more warm here. and then also a little bit of Magenta. You can also click and drag these points in order to find the sweet spot for the color, and then I will go to RGB, and I am just going to brighten the whole image up just a touch. Now that I've done all the different adjustments, let's take a look at our before and after. We can do so by holding on the Option key on the Mac, Alt key on the PC and then clicking on the I icon of the background layer.

Here we have it, before and then after. Some pretty simple adjustments, yet they really helped improve this photograph. And the last thing that I want to point out is that what we can always do, let's say with the color layer or with any these layers, is that if this adjustment is too powerful, simply lower the opacity, and we can find the sweet spot for this adjustments. And in my opinion, I think this one needs to come down just a little bit. So now I have a much more subtle color shift. I don't want that one to be overpowering, so I simply lower its Opacity, and now I think this image looks good, our final before and then after.

Enhancing a portrait with hand-painted masks
Video duration: 6m 23s 12h 24m Beginner

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Enhancing a portrait with hand-painted masks provides you with in-depth training on Photography. Taught by Chris Orwig as part of the Photoshop CS5 for Photographers

Subject:
Photography
Software:
Photoshop
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