Photoshop Tutorial For Beginners Retouching Portraits
You are about to embark on a crash course in retouching portraits with this Adobe Photoshop tutorial for beginners. If you are unfamiliar with Photoshop CC 2015 it is one of the best photo editors on the market. The video tutorial below will walk you through all the different tools, layers and blend modes that you’ll use for retouching your portraits like a pro.
The image above is the portrait I will be walking you through in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 and it was taken with a Nikon D810 with the Nikon 85mm F 1.4G at F5.6. The lighting for the image was a Westcott 35 Deep Parabolic Zeppelin with a white reflector for fill.
Click on play to watch the Photoshop tutorial for beginners…
If you found that there was too much information to absorb in the Photoshop tutorial for beginners just rewind the video tutorial and watch it again or bookmark this page so you can come back later. If you would like to watch part one of this video series, the lighting video for the image above you can sign up here for my free Photography retouching and lighting workshop…
Now let’s get to the written part of the Photoshop tutorial for beginners. I know some people prefer reading over watching videos so I will cover some of the key elements of a portrait retouch in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015. Now keep in mind a retouching tutorial for beginners could literally be 10 hours and you would just be scratching the surface of this intensive photo editor. But I’ll give you the key tools you’ll use in this article and if you feel like you need some more training.
You should have a look at my interactive video training program called Shutter Slam insiders where I have over 90 retouching and lighting video tutorials like the one on this page.
Here we go, you should start every photo retouch with a rough outline of what you would like to accomplish. Having a clear plan of action of what you would like to retouch right from the start, will save you a ton of time on your retouching. The image below illustrates the areas I know I want to focus on, all you need to do to create a plan like the image below is to create a blank layer and then you can draw on the blank layer using the brush tool and it will not permanently effect the layer below it.
Once you have a plan you can delete the blank layer and begin retouching. I usually start by creating a new blank layer and begin with skin healing using the healing brush and I suggest you start the same way. The image below shows you where to find the healing brush on the left hand tool panel. The Photoshop shortcut is the J key on your keyboard and you will want to make sure you select the healing brush and not the spot healing brush.
The major difference between the two brushes is that the healing brush will allow you to sample near by skin texture compared to the spot healing brush which decides what area should be sampled for you. You will get a more accurate sample by using the healing brush and holding down the option key on the Mac or the Alt key on the PC and sampling skin texture nearest to the area you would like to heal.
You should sample often closest to the area you wish to heal because every part of someone’s face has different texture, so for example you wouldn’t want to sample from the forehead and use that sample on a persons cheek. Once you have cleaned up the skin you can move onto dodging and burning. There are several different ways to dodge and burn and one of the methods I prefer, is to create a 50% grey layer on the soft light blend mode and then use a soft brush at 100% opacity and 1% flow. To dodge you would use a white brush and to burn you would use a black brush.
To be safe you may want to dodge and burn on separate layers, it is also a good idea to use multiple dodge and burn layers for different areas of the portrait. For example, I’ll use a technique I call micro dodging and burning and then on another layer I will use a technique I refer to as a global dodge and burn layer. You may also want to create a separate dodge and burn layer for the hair, the advantage to using various layers is that it allows you to adjust the opacity layer for each dodge and burn layer so if you feel that you went to far you can always scale things back a bit.
Here’s an example of the opacity slider on the layers panel. You can adjust the opacity of each layer which is great if you feel you took an adjustment layer too far. You can scale back to 50 % and then toggle on and off the layer to see what you think of the new layer.
If reading this article isn’t crystal clear for you, I suggest you go watch the Photoshop tutorial for beginners below. As I am writing this article I am beginning to realize just how much of a visual program Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 can be. It is the same video that was at the top of the page I just thought I would add it here again to save you the trouble of scrolling up the page.
It is pretty much taking me ten times the amount of text that it would take me several seconds to demonstrate in a video tutorial. Who knew it would be this complicated to explain a visual medium in words.
Alright, lets get back on track… Once you have finished dodging and burning you should move on to the eyes.
You should brighten and sharpen the eyes slightly to make them pop and to attract the viewers eyes to them but don’t go over board or the person will begin to look a little too unrealistic. You can add some brightness by creating a curves layer and to sharpen the eyes you can use a smart sharpen layer or a high pass filter.
I suggest you use a black mask over the sharpened layer so that you can selectively choose which areas of the image you would like to sharpen. Once again if reading this is too confusing for you, I have added the Photoshop tutorial for beginners video just above.
Now I know this is a bare bones tutorial but it should get you started in the right direction. If you would like to master your retouching and lighting in the shortest time possible you should check out my interactive video training site by clicking on the link below.
If you have any comments or questions about this Photoshop tutorial for beginners, just leave a comment in the box below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.