The Smart Brush tools
contain a number of different categories
including Portrait. This category allows for modification of an
image in a variety of different ways, including ...
Lighten Skin Tones
Very Pearly Whites
As you look at the list it's easy to see that there's no adjustment for
making that perfect, creamy skin we see on high fashion models.
The reason is that that kind of skin is simply a function of digital
editing and doesn't exist in the real world (OK - it probably does
somewhere - but most of us will never encounter it in our lifetime).
The purpose of this category in the Smart Brush is to give you the
tools to make some modifications to any portraits you shoot and they
can be used alone or in combination with other Elements Filters such at
All of the adjustments that follow are much easier to do with a Wacom
pen (Intuos or Bamboo). As a matter of fact, the Smart Brush tool
has a Pen Pressure setting which is quite useful.
Let's use this image to try out the different adjustments in the
NOTE: throughout the discussion of the different adjustments the
Blend Modes will be referenced - if they are confusing to you then
check out the Blend Mode Tutorial ...
The first adjustment in the category is Bright
What it does is add a Levels Adjustment Layer above the Background at
100% Opacity and the Blend Mode set to Screen.
What this does is create really, really white eyes - maybe too bright.
Well - it's actually kind of creepy to have the whites of the eyes that
bright, don't you think.
The brightness can be modified in a coup0le of different ways.
The Opacity of the Bright Eyes layer can be lowered to between 30% and
50%, or ...
The Blend Mode can be changed from Screen (which lightens) to one of
the other Blend Modes (such as Multiply which darkens or the Normal
The thing to do is try out each method to find the one that looks the
best (lower opacity or changing the Blend Mode).
The second adjustment, should you decide to use it, is called Details.
What it does is add a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer at the top
of the layer stack. The default setting for Details sets the
Brightness at zero and sets the Contrast at 50. The Blend Mode of
the layer is set to Soft Light.
Now take your Wacom pen and paint in the details where you want them -
eyebrows, eyes, hair - wherever you want more detail.
In the image to the right the Bright Eyes layers opacity was lowered to
39% and then the Details adjustment was selected.
I used my Wacom pen to paint over the eyes, the eyebrows and the
eyelashes (the last one with a one pixel brush).
This adjustment didn't overpower the portrait so it was not modified in
Skin Tones uses another Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer with
different settings from the Details adjustment.
The Brightness of the layer is set to 25, the Contrast is set to
zero and the Blend Mode is Normal - it's amazing how different settings
can make such a big difference in the image.
Now simply paint over the skin and when you're done you can change the
opacity of the layer or change the Blend Mode to see how things change.
The two sliders on the Adjustment Panel can also be modified - the
Brightness can be either lowered or raised and the Contrast can be
So here's our Portrait now and it is coming along nicely.
Lipstick adds a Solid color Adjustment Layer at the top of the layer
stack with the default color being bright red. The Blend Mode is
set to Soft Light and the Opacity of the new layer is 50%.
As with all of the other adjustments, the Blend Mode and the Opacity
can be changed to give a more pleasing or realistic look.
In addition, the lipstick color can be changed by double tapping
(double clicking) on the red color in the Lipstick layer and then
moving the color picker around to a new color.
When you look at this version of the picture it would seem the skin is
much lighter than the previous version - but it's not.
When I first looked at the two images (this one and the previous one) I
figured I had messed up. I re-did the screen capture of the
Lighten Skin Tones version but it still looks darker than the version
with Lipstick added.
It's amazing how one little change (Lipstick) can have such a profound
Spray Tan adds a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer
to the image The color is dark brown (Red - 90, Green - 60,
Blue - 6), the Blend Mode is set to Soft Light and the layer Opacity is
With this portrait it seemed kind of silly to use the Lighten Skin
Tones Adjustment to brighten up her face and then add a Spray Tan.
Rather than doing that, what I did was add a vignette around the
portrait with my Wacom pen. What this does is direct the eye to
the most important part of the picture.
Like all of the other adjustments, this one can also be modified by
changing the Blend Mode (Multiply is very dramatic), changing the layer
opacity or selecting a new color for the Photo Filter.
This version has the Blend Mode set to Multiply because the default
setting was just too quiet.
Sadly, our model cannot be used to demonstrate the only two settings
we've not yet looked at - Pearly Whites and Very Pearly Whites.
These two settings are digital dental hygiene at it's finest and they
use the same kind of layer used by Lipstick - Solid Color.
Pearly Whites is set slightly off white (Red - 249, Green - 229,
Blue - 50) with the Blend Mode set to Soft Light and the Opacity at 50%.
Very Pearly Whites is more pure white (Red - 253, Green - 247,
Blue - 237) with the Blend Mode set to Soft Light and the Opacity at
It's easy to see that the Very Pearly Whites will produce a much whiter
The great thing about the Pearly White adjustment is that the teeth get whiter yet maintain the underlying textures.
Like the other portrait adjustments, Pearly White can be modified by
changing the Blend Mode or the Opacity or by selecting a whiter (or
Here's something else you can do with a portrait to make it look
great - mess around with the Lighting Effects filter (found in Filter > Render).
And here is the modified portrait ...
This may or may not be to your taste, however it is easy to see how
useful the Portrait category in the Smart Brush can be in combination
with Lighting Effects or whatever filter your fancy!