Join Timothy Sexton for an in-depth discussion in this video Using adjustment layers, part of Photoshop Retouching: Faces.
The image you have open, fresh from being processed in Capture One or Adobe Raw, should have a nice neutral feel to it. You want to make sure that the whites are white, with no tints of color in them. You don't necessarily want your neutrals to be cool, but not overly warm either. Looking at your whites gives you the best indication of any color tints. Crank an adjustment curve a bit, just to see how the image responds. So, Option+Cmd+M, brings up a Curves layer. Let's hit OK. And let's pull down on this three quarter tone area right here.
And let's just watch how the shadows fall across the image. Watch what happens with the saturation of the image Really look at that skin and just get a good indication of the kinds of things that we're going to have to do. And we do the same thing with the quarter tone, by pulling it up and seeing how the highlights break and watching to see that our midtones aren't blown out and lost by making the image lighter. Okay. Right down here is your shadow point.
And right up here is your white point. One box up from the shadow point is your three quarter tone. A box up from there is your midtone. And a box up from there is your quarter tone. And of course, you have the white point up here. And the image this area in here would be considered the shadow point where the lightest area right here in fact right here in the eye would be considered your white point anything else that falls in between are your mid tones. For a good strong image that's going to print well, you want to have what you call really long mid tones.
Being that the image doesn't break too hard into shadow and it doesn't break too hard into highlight. That it has a smooth transition in between them, it's at this point that you know maybe you want to make a decision whether or not you have to reprocess your file. reprocessing a file is good to do at this stage if you have to because no retouching has taken place and you won't lose any work. Okay, now that we've established that we're not going to reprocess this file, we're going to set the look.
And we're going to start by creating the contrast. So Option+Cmd+M. Let's bring up that curves. And let's pull down a bit on this three quarter tone area and let's pull up here in the quarter tone and that's creating what is known as an S-curve. If you find that you have to make too steep of a move, like a real, actual S, there might be something wrong with your file and you might want to investigate what's going on with it. Just pull down a little bit. And I'm paying attention to the shadow areas, especially here in the eyes.
because I don't want to lose too much detail. And now, let's pull up a bit here in a quarter tone. And create some nice snap. Okay. From there, you can see how the skin is getting very saturated as we create this S curve. And we're going to balance that off by putting a hue sat layer underneath our curves. So Option+Cmd+U brings up that hue sat. Let's hit OK. And I generally start at a minus 7. And let's just turn that on and off and then see what happens. And you can see that by pulling a little color out, it sort of helps to flatten the image a little bit.
I put the hue set underneath the curves because it helps to flatten out a bit the contrast that we just put in by taking some of that color out. Having the hue set over the curves can potentially grey out certain areas. And we don't want to do that. So we just want to minimize the flashing, which happens when the image gets overly saturated and the darker areas with color by setting the contrast. So, let's just pull that down and I think, yeah, I'm kind of liking the way that feels right there.
So let's just commit to that for the moment and turn our curves, let's go back to the curves and see if we can create a little bit more contrast now, now that we've taken a little bit of the saturation out I think we can, a little bit. Okay. Looking at this image right now, I know that I'm going to have to do a few individual adjustment moves to the image. For example, I'm going to have to use a curve to bring some detail out of these eyes and I'm going to have to burn in some of the tone right here in the hand, and there's also some color balancing to be done.
You can see a lot of magenta picking up in these tones on the chest right here, and the ears are very yellow on the edges. So, there's, yeah, there's a bit of color balancing to do. Your overall moves like are what you call your global moves and you want to try to set the look and tone of your image with overall moves. If you can get about 90-95% of your looked on with overall moves it will minimize the amount of masking that you need to do to help the image along.
So there we have the general start up to setting a look and tone of an image.
- Analyzing your portrait
- Setting the overall color
- Using masks to color correct
- Controlling blemishes
- Popping the eyes