Some questions I get asked a lot are “what is a clean edit” and “what are your steps for a clean edit?” So, today I thought I would share the steps I take in Photoshop Elements to achieve a basic, clean edit. Now, you Photoshop (CS#) users can apply 100% of this in your program also.
Start with an image that is straight-out-of-the-camera (SOOC). Open it up in Full Edit mode in your Photoshop Elements (PSE).
A list of the main steps I go through:
- Levels adjustment to bring in the black and white sliders to meet the sides of the histogram “mountain.”
- Levels adjustment to brighten the face, moving gray slider to the left a good bit and the black slider to right a tad. Invert the mask by pressing ‘control’ and ‘i’ (‘command’ and ‘i’ on a Mac). Brush over face with white brush. Adjust layer opacity to suit.
- Warm or cool the image with a photo filter, as needed. Adjust layer opacity to suit.
- Reduce under-eye circles by creating a blank layer, activating the eye dropper tool and clicking on “good” skin near the circles. Then activate the brush tool and brush over the under-eye circles. Reduce layer opacity to suit.
- Whiten teeth and eyes by doing a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, going into the reds and yellows (sometimes blues and cyans) and reduce the saturation. Go to the Master and increase the lightness. Invert and brush over eyes and teeth with white brush. Lower layer opacity to suit.
- Make blue eyes bluer by doing a Levels adjustment, going into the Red and moving the black slider to the right a bit, then Green and move the gray slider to the left a bit, then the Blues and move the gray slider to the left a bit. Go to the RGB and move black slider to right a bit and gray slider to left a bit. Invert and brush over iris of each eye. Adjust layer opacity to suit.
- Give a color pop by doing a Brightness/Contrast adjustment but change nothing. Change blend mode to soft light. Lower layer opacity to suit.
Some finishing touches:
- Make eyes sparkle by doing a duplicate layer, High Pass filter (Filters, Other, High Pass, radius of 8). Change blend mode to overlay. Add a mask (for versions older than PSE9, use Coffeeshop’s Layer Mask action), invert and brush only over iris/pupil of each eye. Adjust layer opacity to suit.
- Make the background a little richer by doing a Levels adjustment, moving black slider to the right a lot, and the gray slider to the left a bit. Invert and brush where you’d like the colors a little deeper. Adjust layer opacity to suit.
Save and crop:
- Save your image, but make sure to change the name slightly so that you do not overwrite the original. I usually put ‘clean’ at the end of the file name.
- After saving, choose a crop ratio or put in your own. Change the resolution to 240 or 300 (my printer likes 240, so that’s what I use).
- Click and drag the crop tool to the image size/shape you’d like.
- If you do not plan to share on the web, do the following. If you do plan to share on the web, go to the next image below.
- Sharpen your overall image by doing a duplicate layer, High Pass filter, radius of 2.5, set to soft light, lower opacity to suit. (This step not shown).
- Flatten and save with crop ratio in file name, so you can identify it when you go to print. I usually put like ‘5×7’ at the end of the file name.
To share on the web, on a blog, Flickr or Facebook, do the following:
- Resize the image by going to Image, Resize and change the resolution to 72 and the width or height to whatever size suits your needs.
- For portrait orientation I prefer 400 pixels wide.
- For landscape orientation I prefer 600 pixels wide.
- Make sure the boxes at the bottom are checked so that your image doesn’t loose it’s proportions.
Last thing needed is a slight overall sharpening.
- Duplicate layer, High Pass filter, radius of .9 to 1.2. Change blend mode to Soft Light. Lower opacity to suit.
- I often brush off of hair, as hair sharpened can look straw-like.
- I brushed off the skin here too because it made it look to edgy, it had lost the smoothness.
- Add a watermark (or simply use the Type tool and write your name on it). Step not shown.
- Flatten and save with ‘web’ in the file name so you know which one to upload.
Here is the final product:
And here is a side-by-side comparison:
Special Note: I did a video tutorial for the main adjustment steps, to see it go HERE.
If you follow these steps to give an image a clean edit, please feel welcome to share it at the FB fan page for Everyday Elements.