Flexing those editing muscles.

Well since the gyms are all shut here in the UK, flexing some creative muscles instead of the guns might be the way forward for the time being.

Here’s an image I edited today featuring Rue.

I’m going to highlight a few of the actions I’ve taken to achieve the final image.


It’s a fairly straight forward beauty portrait but I have taken steps in Photoshop to push it somewhat. I’ll describe the process for you. But first, here’s the original………….


So there are few subtle yet major differences between the two right?

I’ve mentioned before that I shoot in a small home studio, which doubles as the kid’s playroom and my wife’s office. I have to improvise a lot to counter the restrictions I have in terms of space. It’s a challenge I love to rise to however.

This particular image is shot against two pieces of black foam core (the kind you get from stores like Hobbycraft) that are sellotaped together and stuck to the wall behind the model with Blu-Tack.

The lighting is a large 22″ Beauty Dish boomed directly overhead and in front of the model’s face, angled down at 45 degrees. The Beauty Dish has the sock over it to give a more diffused light, and is placed at the same distance from the model as the diameter of the Dish (so 22 inches away approximately). This is a good rule of thumb. There is also a piece of white foam core held below the chin to bounce some light back into the shadows from beneath. I use the Beauty Dish as it gives my favourite quality of light from any of my modifiers.

Only other thing to mention here is the use of the 17-40 lens (I know…..slap my wrist) which some might not recommend for portraiture, but I love to get right under the Beauty Dish to shoot and this lens allows me to do so. If it’s good enough for Joel Grimes it’s good enough for me!

On to the editing.

First port of call when I open Photoshop is the Liquify filter. I use Liquify to smooth out lumps and bumps in clothing when needed, but one of the main reasons I use it on female portraits is to plump up the hair. It’s such a little thing that makes a massive difference to the finished image (your model will usually thank you for it too). So after plumping the hair and cloning away the loose strands to the left I moved on to the lips. Duplicating the background layer then changing the layer blend mode to Color (so only the colour is affected………I used the brush tool at low flow to paint and fix the colour of the lips. To do this take a sample of the colour/colours you wish to paint with by pressing alt (Mac) or option (PC) and clicking on the specifically coloured area within the image. The brush will change to that colour and you’re good to go. Paint on the image and then play around with the layer opacity to fine tune the results.

The next major thing is obviously the eyes. I honestly just felt like experimenting and having some fun with them and changing the colour is very easy really. First enter Quick Mask mode in Photoshop and then paint at 100 percent flow and opacity over the parts of the eyes which you wish to change the colour of. When this is done exit Quick Mask mode to reveal a selection of the eyes. Open a new Hue/Saturation layer, click Colorize and then adjust the sliders until you have the eye colour you are happy with. One further step here is to repeat the selection process using Quick Mask (with a new duplicate or merged layer (ctrl J or ctrl alt shift and e) and then open a Selective Colour layer. Change the blend mode to Linear Dodge Add. This will make things look a bit overdone at first but lower the opacity right down until you settle on the sweet spot. Have a play around with this and let me know how you get on. It’s a technique I use on the majority of my portraits. Add a new blank layer above and use the Sharpen tool to brush some extra sharpening onto the eye. As Always, play around with the layer opacity to fine tune.


Hopefully this little insight into some of my editing workflow has proved interesting?

Let me know.


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