Thursday, August 18, 2011

Requested: How I edit my photos! *PIC HEAVY*

So I have gotten many questions from you all on how I edit it my pictures. I have put together this step-by-step "tutorial" for you guys, and I sure hope it's helpful. I use the ancient Adobe Photoshop CS2, but any version or editing software that is similar will do. I am no way a professional, I am only self taught. This might not be the correct way, or textbook way to edit photographs...but it's the way I do it! 

If you want your photos to look like this:
Then keep on reading!

(**NOTE** You can click the following images to enlarge them and get a closer look if you'd like!)

Step 1:
-Open a copy of your image onto Photoshop or any other image editing software that is similar.

When I take my photos, I use natural light and a desk lamp for lighting, and I use soft flash to reduce colors being washed out, with a "beautify" mode that helps even out skin. I do this to reduce the amount of things I need to edit, thus saving time and having a more beautiful photo at the end.

Step 2:
-Select a soft brush tool that has blurred edges and adjust your size to fit. Set the mode to soft light. We're going to be working with this type of brush for the majority of the time. Set the opacity to about 12% and keep flow at 100%. Go over your eyeliner with the color set to black (#000000). This is going to add the color back that the flash washed out. Make sure not to go over too many times, or else it'd be too opaque. 

Step 3:
-Select a light shade that is in the same family as your eye color to brighten them. Since my eyes are a golden brown, I chose a pale yellow shade. Set the opacity to about 5%-6%, and go around your pupil once or twice.

Step 4:
-Select black again, raise the opacity back to 13% and make your brush about the size of your pupil. Darken the pupils. I keep my mouse in place and click about 2-3 times, or until I get my desired darkness.

Step 5:
-Select the burn tool, and make sure the mode is set to darken and exposure is pretty low, ranging between 4%-10%. As you can see, I used 4% around my lash line, then raised the exposure to 9% to darken my brows.

Step 6:
-Now we are going to remove any imperfections. I hate the bags under my eyes, so in order to remove them, select the spot healing brush tool, and simply outline the area you want to fix. After it is outlined, all you need to do is drag into a clean area of you skin, and it will blend the two together to give a nice result.

You should end up with something that looks like this:

You can also use this technique to remove other imperfections, such as blemishes, like so:

At this point, I usually zoom out, and see the results so far.

If you like what you have at this point, go ahead and save your progress.

Step 7:
-Now we're going to work on the eyes a bit more. In this particular photograph, the flash I used washed out the colors a bit, so now we need to replenish them. In order to do that, set your brush tool to a size that fits nicely in the area where your makeup is. Select a color that matches your makeup. Set the opacity to anything between 5%-10%, and go over the area a couple of times. Remember, not too much or else you'll alter the appearance of your initial application! Keep it looking as realistic and true to the raw image as possible. All we're doing here is adding saturation back to the image.

Go ahead and layer another color if you'd like:

Step 8: 
-Now that our makeup is brighter, we need to add some shadows and dimension. Select the burn tool again, and adjust the brush size to wear it is a bit bigger than your actual eye, and exposure set to 4%-5%. Focus mainly on darkening the outer edges. Darken the shadows of your mouth as well, and/or anywhere else you feel needs more dimension.

Since the colors of these flowers are a lot more intense than the makeup, I raised the exposure to 8%.

Step 9:
-Now it's time to highlight our face a bit. Select your soft brush tool and set the mode to soft light and opacity anywhere between 4%-8%, depending on your skin tone.. Select the white as your color (#FFFFFF). Highlight middle of forehead, cheekbones, bridge of the nose, and chin. You can also lighten areas that are too dark during this step.

Step 10:
-Now that our face is complete, we are going to black out the background. We don't want any objects interfering with our image, as we want our makeup and our face to be the main focus. Select the soft brush tool again, set opacity to about 85%-90% and set the mode to normal this time. Go around the perimeter of yourself, eliminating the background. You can make the brush smaller to get into those hard to reach places, like so:

After you've blacked out your background, select the burn tool again, and go around the edges of yourself (hair, arms, etc). This will help blend everything together. Exposure is set to 8%.

Step 11:
-Now we are going to add some texture to our image. Go to Filter, Noise, then select "Add Noise".

Set the amount to 3% (anything higher than 3% that will make your image look too grainy), and make sure "uniform" is selected and click OK to apply. 

Step 12:
-Go to Image, Adjustments, then Levels. You can mess around with it to get the result you like, but be careful with this step. You do not want too much contrast. I like to take the middle notch and move it a smidge to the left, and then I take the far left notch and move it a smidge to the right. Select ok to apply. 

And that's it! I hope that wasn't too confusing and that it made sense to you guys...I tried my best, lol. Anyway, here is a before and after!

Love you guys! <3



  1. Lol, wtf kind of black magic camera do you have that erases your pores!??? I need this 'beautify" camera in my life post-haste.

    Great tutorial, easy to follow, I'm sure lots of people will find this super useful

  2. LOL I'm dead serious! It exists! My camera is a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H70. It's a freakin' life saver hahaha.

  3. damn it i need a real photoshop program, but its so expensive!

  4. great tutorial, your pictures always look so good! <3

  5. you're awesome, thank you so much for this! Too bad my trial of photoshop just expired, booo!

  6. So barbie-like!

    I wish I had photoshop ):

  7. Thank your for revealing your photo editing secretes to us.
    I only crop and put watermark on my pictures and then wonder why my readers are dissatisfied with the quality lol.

    I often do a complex look and camres just washes it out. It ends up looking like I used just one color and forgot to blend it when in reality a lot of work was put into it.

    I need to learn this :)

  8. this photo is so pretty and you done well with the tutorial :)

    shel xx

  9. This is so helpful!! You actually have really pretty skin to begin with anyways, but I love all the effects :)

  10. Great tutorial! I'm not so patient with editing software. I don't have photoshop, although I tried it on my old computer, which now belongs to my father. I installed gimp on my new one, which is opensource (and free, which is very important), but I only edit levels, saturation, basic work with layers and so on.
    What you do is very difficult for me to do.


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