I get asked a lot about this image. Thought it would be a good one to do a blueprint for. The image needed some warmth and softness to counteract the dull coolness of shooting in backlit shade.
SOOC – Unedited
Here’s where we’re going – Final Edit
1. Started by duplicating the background layer and using the patch tool to reduce under eye shadows. Reduced the layer opacity to 66% to keep them looking human. People need a little under eye shadow.
2. Glisten – painted over the irises to give a punch to the eyes. I like a nice bright, sharp catchlight. These screenshot images don’t do the Glisten action justice.
3. Turn Up the Heat to warm up the overly cool image.
4. Did a simple Photo Filter adjustment layer of magenta. Turn Up the Heat warmed the image, but it was missing the pink tones needed to make the perfect warmth.
5. Bland to Brilliant – opened action group and adjusted internal layers as listed. Bland to Brilliant provides a simple, yet essential clarity and contrast boost with a slight brightening effect.
6. Plush Color must be masked off areas that become too dark, like clothes, eyes and skin. I don’t like to lose details in the shadows, so I’m a stickler for masking rich actions off these areas.
Here’s a view of where I masked Plush Color off using a soft, 30% opacity brush.
Tones can make a world of difference in images. Here I added 2 different ones to add warmth and reddish/pinkish tones.
7. Light Optimizer was to give a slight pop and Anti-Pasty Skin was masked onto mostly him, because he was, well… pasty. His cheeks needed a little boost of depth and warmth.
8. Rosy Dusk tone was masked onto just the rooftop to make it more red.
9. Did a simple Curves adjustment layer to pop the image a bit more.
10. Here’s the pièce de résistance… Flawless Face. Don’t have Portraiture? This action has replaced my Portraiture. I inverted the black layer mask on the FF action to reveal the softness over the entire image. [ cmd/ctrl + i ] Then, using a black brush, I painted the softness off his face almost entirely. Men should look like men, not porcelain dolls. Continued masking off the areas listed below.
11. Ran Anti-Fake n’ Bake and painted it over her neck and hairline. I wanted to reduce the redness even more on the neck area, so I played Merge It to get a fresh pixel layer and used the History Brush tool with the history state set to the imported image. Painted over her neck to take the red out almost entirely.
Normally, I would have warmed the image up in Lightroom before bringing it into PS, but for those that don’t have or use a RAW editor, I wanted to show how you can warm an image strictly with PS. It might seem like a lot of steps, but we went from a very dull, colorless image to a sweetly soft and warm image. Using the actions and making use of the layer masks makes quick work of an edit like this.