/Tactful Touchups: 5 Tips for Editing Portraits in Photoshop
editing portraits in photoshop

Tactful Touchups: 5 Tips for Editing Portraits in Photoshop

Do you want to give your clients the perfect portrait? There’s a lot of hard work involved in taking a photo that your customers will be happy with.

Photographers and graphic designers have a lot of pressure on them in their line of work. People pay them to get perfect shots, but the right picture doesn’t come in on demand.

It’s a good thing that many photo editing software programs like Photoshop exist. It allows professionals to adjust their work to give clients the best version of their photos.

That said, editing portraits in Photoshop doesn’t mean going over the top and altering major aspects of your work. Instead, it means doing subtle changes to bring out the best features of the subject.

Here are five ways you can retouch Photoshop portraits in subtle ways to surprise and please your clients.

1. Adjust Raw Exposure Elements

The first thing you need to know if you’re learning how to edit portraits in Photoshop is doing raw adjustments.

This step is helpful for setting up the future fixes you’ll do on the portrait. It also allows you to work some elements to make the portrait look like it’s shot during a happy day.

First, you should understand how Photoshop interacts with a raw image. You should see a dialog box appear upon uploading the picture. This toolbar will allow you to adjust the lighting effects and increase or decrease the brightness.

If your subject looks like it’s shadowed by something, you can increase the exposure of the image to make it look like it’s facing multiple light sources. It works best for images taken inside of buildings.

This should help you in travel photography and photo shoots without proper equipment as sometimes you’ll want to take photos of people inside their homes.

It will also help you bring out the best features of your subject. It can bring focus to the subject if the background is not that much appealing to look at.

2. Sharpen the Image

Mastering this feature can set your work apart as it allows you to remove the blurriness that cameras give. If you provide your clients with a picture that looks fuzzy, it can affect your reputation as a photographer.

You can access this Photoshop feature by selecting it in the Filters tab. You will encounter many options here for sharpening, but most people only use one tool – the Unsharp Mask. It works great for portraits as it focuses on the face of your subject.

This tool will run your subject’s raw image through some filters. You will first need to input the parameters. You can do this more than once if you’re looking for more defined results.

The downside is that it may bring out some undesirable things, such as blemishes. However, the next tip should provide you with the means of dealing with them.

3. Cover Up Spots and Blemishes

Since sharpening will make facial flaws more defined, you’re going to have to deal with those. The good thing is that Photoshop has many tools that can help.

The Spot Healing tool, for example, allows you to remove any undesired flaws on the subject’s face.

All you need to do is mark the area you want cleaning – and the tool will do the rest. It will not do any major alterations to the photo because of Photoshop’s layering system. It will also help you remove any lines you find unappealing.

This tool doesn’t do well in areas covered in hair, though. It can make the spots or lines disappear, but it will leave an obvious mark that may ruin the portrait. Use the Healing Brush tool to fix it.

This feature adjusts the flaw but still matches the area to make the alteration near impossible to spot. That’s because you will select an area to copy first. This means that it will match the selected area to keep the pattern of hair going.

Using the Healing Brush like this will help you clear flaws in the subject’s eyebrows, hairline, mustache, and/or beard with ease without making it difficult to cover it up again.

4. Dodging and Burning

Most people consider this the most important step in portrait retouching.

Dodging and burning will help bring focus to your subject instead of the background. This is essential if your client insists on having a picture with a background that’s not ideal.

Using the dodge and burn on your subjects will make them appear darker than the background. This is a neat trick to make photos pop out to emphasize the people in the shot. You can also use this tool to highlight certain features even more.

You think your subject has mesmerizing eyes?

Use the dodge and burn brush to make them stand out. There are two ways you can do this: you can either make the eyes darker or darken the background to make the eyes stand out more.

5. Tone the Subject

To finish up edits, you’ll want to tone the portrait. In this case, toning doesn’t mean to shape but rather enhance it using colors. It will help you compliment the colors of your subject to make the final piece amazing.

This does require you to have prior knowledge about colors. You will need that knowledge to figure out which colors go well with the subject’s skin tone, clothing colors, and so on. The toning tool will only help you blend them together.

However, if you’re able to pull this off, you will produce amazing portraits. It will also ensure that your reputation gets a boost from their reviews.

Learn More Tips on Editing Portraits in Photoshop

There are many options to choose from when you’re editing portraits in Photoshop. Use these tips to cut your workflow while still producing creative portraits.

Photo retouching is easy with the help of this program. You know what else Photoshop makes easy? Restoring old photos!

Check out our website and learn how to restore old photos using Photoshop today!