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How to Retouch a Studio Portrait in Photoshop?

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Suppose you have taken some photos from a professional photo studio that is in desperate need of a photo retouching technique. Perhaps you discovered some flaws or damage to the photo you just can’t live with and you want to make the photos extra ordinary, so what do you do? Today we are going to learn how to retouch a studio portrait in Photoshop. I will show you step by step, each photo retouching tips to give your photo a finished look. It is not as difficult as you may think, just follow the steps and you will be able to make your photos look almost as good as the professionals, at a fraction of the cost. So, guys just follow my tutorial and retouch the model image in Photoshop smoothly.

Quick Summary So Far:

I’ve enclosed a lot of Photoshop techniques and tools here about working with retouching a studio portrait, so before we move on and start learning the whole tutorial, let’s do a quick review at bellow short list to know that how many techniques and tools we are going to study.

Photoshop retouching techniques:

  1. How to remove a background from a model image?
  2. How to adjust or correct the color of an image?
  3. How to remove spots, blemishes and unwanted hair from skin?
  4. How to remove red eye in Photoshop?
  5. How to whiten yellow teeth in Photoshop?
  6. How to create multiple clipping paths?
  7. How to do beauty retouch in Photoshop?

Photoshop Tools:

Pen tool Pen tool

Background eraser tool Background eraser tool

Clone stamp tool Clone stamp tool

Red eye tool Red eye tool

Magic wand tool Magic wand tool

 Brush tool Brush tool

 Eraser tool Eraser tool

1. Retouching the background:

The first thing you want to do is start with the background of the photo.  So, you are going to learn how to isolate the photo from the background to place the image in different background or color, using the Photoshop Pen Tool.

Banner of background removal image

All you need to do is select the Pen Tool, then go to the top of the screen and be sure that you have chosen path, not the layer checked.

Pen tool

Chose path

You then start at any point on the body or hand part of the image that you wish, except the hair (I will get to this later). Then using the Pen Tool, anchor the first point, and continue to make more points, by drawing a path around the entire edge of your image up to the area where the hair starts (you can draw around the hair part, but leave part of the background closest to the hair; you will use a different tool for that part).

Creating path

Created path around the whole image

After you have completed the outline, you would then click on make selection, select anti-alias and set the feather radius at 0.5-1 pixels.

Make selection

Select anti aliased and pixel

Now you should see the marching ants surrounding the image.

Path selected

Now go to the top of the screen, click on select, inverse and delete, now the background should disappear.

Inverse the selection

Deleted background

This is probably the quickest and easiest ways to remove background from a solid image.

Next, you will be using the Background Eraser Tool to remove the background from hair image. Open a new layer to work with. You should have already removed most of the background around the hair. Select the Background Eraser Tool from the tool bar.

Background eraser tool

And choose the size of brush you wish to use (I want to use 150). Then select Sampling: Background Swatch, a tolerance of about 50 and discontiguous.

Select Sampling Background-Swatch,-a-tolerance-of-about 50 and discontiguous

Then click your left mouse button, and use your Background Eraser Tool to go around the entire object. You will notice a very thin light color line that surrounds the hair. However if you select a light colored background rather than a darker colored one, you won’t even notice that fine line. You have the option of using a burn tool, if you want the fine line gone, but that’s up to you.

Using background eraser tool

Erased all background around hair image

Now you can add a new background color if you like. See the image bellow I have used a different background color with a shadow to make the image pop.

Changed background color

2. Adjusting the color:

The next step is to adjust brightness and contrast of your photo. We will be using the adjustments panel and focus on some of the more important adjustments that you can use to enhance and improve your photos.

Banner of color adjustment

Many people will go to the image adjustment at the top of the screen, but that is not recommended, as that makes the adjustment onto the pixels themselves. So now you can’t undo it, or modify it after the fact. So to have more flexibility you will want to go directly to your adjustments panel. You will start by using levels to make the brightness and contrast of the image, and see how to customize it. So click on the little sunshine icon at the lower part of the layer, and then select the levels. This analyzes the image and modifies the controls to give a good image.

Select levels from shineshine icon of the layer

So you will use the slider bar to adjust the contrast and brightness. Then check before and after and you can decide if you like it or want to do more.

Using levels to adjust the brightness and contrast

Your other option is to close that panel and go to the opacity. Here you have a more subtle effect, you would decrease the opacity and minimize the effect.

Opacity option

If the properties panel closes, all you need to do is double click the icon for the adjustment layer, and it will reopen with the controls so you can make any further changes.

Double click on layer to reopen the levels

The neat thing is that even after you make the adjustments you want, you can walk away and come later and make different changes if you don’t like the previous ones.

 3. Removing Spots, Blemishes and Unwanted Hair from skin:

Here you will use a skin retouching technique from Photoshop that is quite handy for removing blemishes from the skin and cleaning up your photos.

Banner of skin retouching image

First, zoom up on the image, use Command/Ctrl + hold down the space bar and it will turn into a zoom tool, so you can zoom the image you wish.

Zoom in the face

Then we will take a layer by clicking on “create a new layer” icon at the lower part of the layer palate. You will be working in this layer rather than the original so that you can always go back.

Taking new layer

The first tool we want to use is the Clone Stamp Tool. Go to the tool bar on the left side of the screen, and click on the little stamp tool. Basically, what this does is allow you to clone part of the image and use it someplace else in the image.

Clone stamp tool

Now go to the top of the tool bar where it says aligned or unaligned.

Aligned Sample

To use it aligned, you have to sample an area on the image. To do that you would hold down Alt/Opt to turn tool into cross hairs, click once to sample that area.

Hold down Alt or Opt to turn tool into cross hairs

Now if you have a line check, go down to the jaw area and click and hold down the space bar, then start to paint, you will see cross-hairs form as you duplicate that part of the image.

Start to paint

Now if you let go of the mouse button, and move to another part of the image, and start to paint, the cross hair moves with it (it is at a fixed position away from the brush). You can move anywhere and it will always be aligned with the cross hairs.

Move to another part of the image

I like to use the tool with the aligned left unchecked, as you have more flexibility.

Aligned Sample unchecked

So, you hold Alt/Opt and get close to a blemish like a little mole, click once to sample the area.

Removed blemish

Then click over the top of the blemish and it’s gone.

Removed blemish

When you sample an area that is similar to your target area, it will fade into the other part of the image. Remove all spots and blemishes by this process. See bellow image where I have removed all spots, blemishes, unwanted hairs etc.…

Removed all spots and blemishes from the face

4. Removing Red Eye in Photoshop:

This is one of the simplest tasks you will ever do. There are advanced techniques, for most purposes all you have to do is use the built in Red Eye Removal Tool. Basically what happens is that the flash is too close to the lens and the pupil of the eye can’t close fast enough, allowing the light to enter the eye and reflect off the inner part of the eye.

Banner of red eye removal image

On the toolbar to the left, click on the Spot Healing Tool, a box will drop down, and you will see the Red Eye Tool, select it.

Red eye tool

And then it is just a simple click over the part of the eye that is red, and poof the red is gone. If you are particular, you can go to the tool bar at the top of the screen and adjust the size of the pupil, as well as change how dark it is, but that is optional.

After red eye removal

5. Whitening the Teeth:

 Many times when you take a photo of someone, the teeth will appear various shades of yellow. Since most of us find that unpleasant and disgusting, I will be explaining how to whiten the yellow teeth of your subject.

Banner of whiten yellow teeth

So you take your photo and zoom in to the teeth area, where you will notice a discoloration.

Zoom in teeth area

First you will need to select the teeth, there are several ways to do this, using the Magic Wand Tool or the Lasso Tool. Here we will use the Magic Wand Tool. Select the tool from the left tool bar.

Magic wand tool

Then set the tolerance level to 20, check the Anti-alias, and Contiguous boxes.

Set tolarance, anti alias, contiguous and sample all layers

Then go to the teeth area and click the mouse in a tooth. You will see that has made a selection, but not exactly what you want. Now hold down the shift key and you will see a + sign. Now anything you click, will be added to the current selection. So now you just go around the teeth and select as much as you can, filling in any spots you may have missed at first. Don’t worry if you get into the gum area, we will take care of that later. Continue until the marching ants surround the teeth. Now there are a few spots where the gum was included, and we want to remove those. Now you will hold down the Alt/Opt key instead of the shift. Now you should see a – (minus) sign. Click on the gum areas you want removed and they are gone.

Selected teeth area

Now go back to the top and click on select, modify and feather, I am using a value of 2 in the feather radius. This will basically smooth out and feather the edges of our selection, then click OK.

Select feather

Feather Radius

Now we will apply the color corrections. We are going to use something called the hue and saturation dialog. Now click on the little sunshine icon from the layer palate and select the hue/saturation. The dialog box will appear.

Hue or Saturation

We will turn down the saturation, since it controls the color. Bring the saturation down to –50; you will see the color of the teeth lighten.  The last step is to increase the lightness to about +17, and then click OK.

Control Hue or Saturation

Then deselect by pressing Ctrl D we now have teeth that are much brighter.

Brighten teeth

6. Create Multiple Clipping Paths:

This type of technique is used when you are dealing with skins, cloths, ornaments etc. We will look at how to select each item separately, and then change or correct the colors to make model or studio image more attractive.

Banner of multiple clipping path

First you will right click over the Pen icon on the toolbar, and then select the Pen Tool.

Pen tool

Next locate the Path icon on the toolbar at the top of the screen, and click on it.

Chose path

Now you will draw the first path around the item you wish (I am drawing the cloth of the model in the image), and close the path by clicking on the first anchor point you made.

Created path around cloth

Then choose the path you just finished from the path palette and drag it to the “New Path” icon at the bottom of the screen. Now let go of the mouse to save your new path.

Create new path layer

Next, you will click on the Pen Tool again and follow the same steps to make each path until you have completed as many as needed. You may want to decide how to organize the additional paths you are creating.

You can continue drawing to create multiple sub-paths that Photoshop will then consolidate into a single saved path. Another option you can use is to click the “Create a New Path” icon every time before you begin drawing to separate each new outline into a different path. There are a few options; it’s pretty much up to you. Let’s see bellow how I have corrected the cloth’s color using the multiple clipping path.

Using hue or saturation for cloth

Correctec cloth color

7. Beauty Retouch in Photoshop:

The last part of the process is to add some color to the face, a beauty retouch of eye liner, eye shadow, lipstick, blush, etc.… to make this photo extra ordinary.

Banner of beauty retouch

The first area is to work on the eyes. It all depends on the effect you wish to achieve, or the client’s wishes. It often helps to start your adjustments at the extreme end of the scale, and then work your way down to a more subtle effect. You may want to start by cleaning up some of the red veins in the woman’s eyes, which I have done in technique “4“ of this tutorial.

Once you are happy with that, you can apply eye makeup. First go to layer pallet. You will create a new layer by clicking the new layer button on the pallet.

Create new layer to retouch eyes

And then choose your color as the blending mode. I chose 100 magenta, 80 yellow, 0 on the cyan and black.

Chose color for eye shadow

Next, you will choose a brush (press “B” from keyboard to select brush) or you can select from the tool bar.

Brush tool

Choose size whatever you wish (I like to select the size 40, hardness 50 and opacity 50).

Select hardness and size of brush tool

Next, you can start apply the eye shadow to the new layer.

Applying brush tool to create eye shadow

Then you will use the Eraser Tool from the tool bar.

Eraser tool

And change the brush size to 81 and use a hardness of 10 to remove part of the color and create a soft gradient.

Size and hardness of eraser tool

Applied eraser tool in eye shadow

Next, open a new layer, and then change the blending mode to multiply. Now you will create eyeliner of black color with a brush of 17 pixels and take out the overspill with an eraser brush of 12 pixels.

Created eye liner

You can also touch up the cheek following the same technique. Using the Eyedropper Tool click on the lower part of eye shadow to select the same color. Now choose a large brush size, hardness and opacity (I chose brush size 200, hardness 0 and opacity 15). Next, apply this brush in a new layer.

Added color in cheek area

Then, you may also use the photo retouching technique to smooth the lips, make brighter and then add color if you wish. To do it, I would like to select the lips using Photoshop pen tool. Create path around the lips and select, choose feather is about 1 and then apply hue/saturation. See the result in the bellow image.

Changed lips color

Take a cursory to look at the bellow image to see that how it is looking after applied all the above techniques.

Final before after image of Portrait retouching

In summary, these photo retouching techniques should help you retouch and improve/enhance your photos or studio portraits. There are many different ways to touch up photos, but the above tips should get you started in doing retouching work, using the Photoshop Tools that will save you a lot of money when doing it yourself. You can spend thousands of dollars when getting photos done professionally. With a little practice, your work will look as professional as any expert who does photo retouching Service. Happy drawing and best of luck!

About the auther 

Rokaiya is a creative graphic designer, Internet marketer, and a blogger. She joined the team of clippingpathspecialist.com is a brand of Outsource Experts Ltd on 2010 as a head of it’s marketing department, and she's been working with the tool ever since! She likes to share tips and tricks on photo editing and graphic design!

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