What I like about Photoshop is that there often several ways to get the result you want. Nathaniel Dodson of Tutvid shares some of his favorite techniques for performing different kinds of enhancements, from converting photos to black and white to cleaning up skin. In this video, you’ll see plenty of useful and quick techniques to add to your bag of tricks.
1. A quick way to boost contrast
A quick method to add contrast is to add a Levels adjustment layer and set the blending mode to Soft Light. Use the opacity slider to reduce the contrast if you want to tone it down.
The best way to sharpen a photo, according to Nathaniel, is to open the file in Camera Raw and use the Sharpen option there. The trick is to hold the Alt/Option key as you move the sliders because this allows you to see what the Sharpening tool is doing. Do the same for the Masking slider to choose the areas you want to sharpen (we’ve mentioned it here).
3. Enhancing sunrises and sunsets
Nathaniel’s preferred method of enhancing sunrise and sunset photos is adding a Color Balance adjustment layer. Play around with the midtones until you get the result you want. You can check out another method here, which uses a Channel Mixer adjustment layer.
4. Cleaning up skin
As you know, there are plenty of ways to retouch skin. Nathaniel’s favorite method is this one: copy the image and use the Healing Brush tool (not the Spot Healing Brush). Set the Sample to “Current & Below” and heal away those blemishes. You can use a larger healing brush to heal larger areas, such as wrinkles or bags under the eyes. After doing this, you can reduce the opacity of the layer, which will keep skin natural-looking but tone down the imperfections.
5. How to change the color of anything
Here’s a handy technique to change the color of any object in your image. Add a Solid Color adjustment layer and choose the color you like. Press Ctrl/Cmd + I to invert the layer mask, and set the layer’s blending mode to Hue or Color. Then, set your foreground color to white and use the Brush tool to paint over the object whose color you want to change.
A similar technique can be used for colorizing black and white photos; you can check it out here.
6. Faded photo effect
The “faded look” seems to be the trend now. It doesn’t always work, but if you want to try it out, here’s how to do it. Add a Curves adjustment layer to your image and pull up the dark point. At about 80% brightness pull the curve down a bit, and then boost the highlights to around 40% brightness. You can adjust the color channels as well, and you can see more on this method here.
7. Quickly relight the scene
If you want to change the balance of light in your photo, start by adding a Gradient Fill layer. Choose the foreground to transparent, and have your foreground color set to black. Set the angle to 90 degrees and drag it so you darken the bottom part of the image. Repeat the process with white foreground color and the angle of -90 degrees, so the top part of the image is brightened up. Set the blending mode of both layers to Soft Light and use the sliders to dial them in and make the effect look more natural.
8. The best black & white technique
According to Nathaniel, this is his favorite method of converting a photo to black and white. Set your foreground color to white and add a Gradient Map adjustment layer. Your photo will be inverted. Now, hit Ctrl/Cmd + J to copy the adjustment layer, and you’ll get a contrasty b&w image.
9. Realistic lens flares
If you want to add some lens flare to your image, start by adding a new layer and setting its blending mode to Linear Dodge (Add). Double-click on that layer to open a dialog box, and check Transparency Shapes layer. Now grab a large, soft brush, set the foreground color to white and paint in the flares wherever you think your photo needs them.
10. Cinematic tone and contrast
If you want to add some cinematic toning to your photos, you can use Gradient Map adjustment layer. Nathaniel uses moviesincolor.com to copy a photo from a movie with the tones he likes. Then, he adds a Gradient Map adjustment layer and sets it to Soft Light blending mode. Opening the gradient lets you change the colors, and now you can sample the colors from the image you copied. Use darker tones for the shadows and brighter ones for the highlights. Of course, you can select your own colors and get the look you like.