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Photoshop Tutorial : More Effects For Portraits

The start image is brought to us by mirimcfly over on Flickr, you can find it HERE The image is available with a Creative Commons License, which you can read about HERE

You’ll notice that the image is a little flat i.e. not very much contrast going on, and this will suit the type of effect you are going to do very well. The settings are relevant to this image 1024X768 @72dpi, but personal taste has a lot to do with the settings as well, so please experiment and don’t take the settings I apply as stock standard. There are a gazillion ways that you could finish this effect with, I’ll show you a couple of different ways at the end. I’ve added a comparison image below of the original colour image, the desaturated image and a (maybe) final version of the image and also a look at the layers you will using.

Open the image, Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer, I used a black and white adjustment layer set to Green Filter to desaturate the image. If you have anything before CS3 you won’t have this available to you, so I have added the image above for you to work with (incase you were wondering what that was for). Open both images – the Start image and the desaturated one, then make sure the move tool is selected by pressing V on the keyboard. Hold down the shift key and drag the desaturated image onto the coloured one. Then duplicate the desaturated layer. If you have CS3/4 you can use the Green Filter and then Merge down and then Ctrl + J to duplicate.

You should have 3 layers – the original colour layer and 2 desaturated layers. Change the blend mode of the top layer to Overlay and go to Filter>Other>High Pass and use a radius of 20 pixels. Click OK to accept that and then hold down the Alt key and click on the add new vector mask at the bottom of the layers palette to assign a black (hide all) mask to the layer. If you’re working along with the same image as I am then you can simply brush back in the face,neck, ear, hands, arms with a white soft edged brush. You want the High Pass effect to be visible on those parts. See image below. Make the mask pretty accurate because we are going to use it over and over again throughout this project.

Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to stamp visible then go to Filter>Blur>Shape Blur, use the Hexagon shape set to a radius of 5 pixels. Take the layer opacity down to 30%, blend mode set to normal. Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to stamp visible again, change the blend mode to Overlay and then go to Filter>Other>High Pass and use a radius of 10 pixels, take the layer opacity down to 50% add a layer mask by Alt + clicking on the Add Vector Mask at the bottom of the layers to add a black mask (hide all). Hold down the Alt key and drag the mask from the first High Pass layer onto the layer mask, let go when it is over the layer mask thumbnail – a small dialogue box will appear asking you if you want to replace the mask click yes. You should end up with something similar to the image below.

Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E again to stamp visible and then go to Filter>Blur>Shape Blur and choose Hexagon with a radius of 5 pixels. Take the opacity of the layer down to 50% blend mode set to normal. This blur will be used on the b/ground, not the man, so add a layer mask by clicking on the add vector mask at the bottom of the layers palette (white mask). Grab the layer mask from the layer below Alt + Click + drag and drop it onto the layer mask thumbnail. Ctrl + i to invert the mask. You might have something like the image below.

You could leave the image at that if you wanted to. Maybe give it a bit more contrast and a sharpen, or you could carry on doing some more things to it. In the image below I’ve used a Hue/Sat adjustment layer set to colorize with Hue @ 200 and Saturation @ 5 Brightness to 0 – opacity set to 50%. I’ve used the mask to confine the adjustment to the man.

In the next example, I’ve dupicated the original colour b/ground and dragged it to the top of the stack, changed the blend mode to soft light and taken the layer opacity down to 50%

The next image shows what happens if you leave the blue adjustment layer turned on underneath the original coloured layer.

Next, I decided that I didn’t like the quite white background of the composition so I added another Hue/Sat adjustment layer, chose colorize and used Hue 25 Sat 10 changed the blend mode of the layer to Multiply and took the opacity down to 75%. I used the mask again to isolate the effect to the background.

Next I used a Levels adjustment layer and took the middle slider to 1.25, then used a radial gradient on a mask to lighten the image in the centre. Then I used a vignette to darken down the edges. Next I used an S curve in a curves adjustment layer to give it a bit more punch and confined the effect to the man with a mask and finally I used a High Pass layer to sharpen the image, radius set to about 2 and a mask to again confine it to the man. Below is my final image, if you have any questions, just ask. Have fun!

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