Portrait Series

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Welcome to the Photoshop Elements Portrait Series home page.  What you will find here are a collection of tutorials that demonstrate different techniques you can use with portrait shots.

The topics range from the easiest, most basic techniques to far more advanced ones that may appeal to experienced Elements users.

Having said that - I've tried, as much as possible, to keep the instructions as clear as possible so that anyone with some basic knowledge of Elements can easily follow along.

If you get stuck or find the instructions confusing simply contact me (via the contact form or through YouTube if there's a video) and I'll get back to you with an answer to your question.

It somehow seems like a good idea to collect all of theses tutorials in one place on a portrait series page.  Being all in one place makes it much easier for you to find exactly what you are looking for when working with pictures of friends, family and your significant other.

Basic Stuff

Most of these so called "portrait series" tutorials will make use of one, or more, of the basic Photoshop Elements techniques.

The basic techniques, aka "Gotta Knows ... " are adjustments and techniques that are used in many, many different situations when you're modifying images.

Probably the ones you could pay the most attention to are ...
Wacom Bamboo

And of course, all of these techniques work much better and are easier to complete with a Wacom pen and tablet - either one of the consumer tablets (Bamboo series) or the Professional Series (Intuos).

Pretty much all of the tutorials included in the portrait series will be easier to complete and look much better when you are using either one of these tablets.

The high resolution and pressure sensitivity provided the ultimate in control over your finished work.  You can review the way the tablet works at the top of the Photoshop Elements page.

The Tutorials

One of the great things about Photoshop Elements is that you can decide where you want to take a picture and then get there using a number of different techniques.

What I favor to achieve a specific outcome may not be the same technique that you would choose to achieve the same outcome.  Neither one is correct and both are correct if we arrive at the same outcome.

Having said that - here are the portrait series of tutorials in no particular order.  Some have been on the site for some time and some take advantage of new techniques introduced by Adobe into the more recent version of Photoshop Elements.

Removing Shine and Hotspots

Shiny spots, glare and hotspots all refer to the same thing - generally a completely washed out portrait servies hotspothighlight area on a forehead or nose or chin and even on eye glasses (like in this shot). 

This is generally caused by an over vigorous flash or perhaps some sweat on the skin that catches the sunlight or the flash.

The thing about these overly bright areas is that they draw the eyes and that is what we tend to concentrate on rather than the overall look and that is the reason removing hotspots is included in the portrait series.

Whatever the cause they can be very annoying and they tends to wreck an otherwise good shot.  They can also be very difficult to eliminate unless you are familiar with the techniques on the Elements Hotspots page.  Click the link or the thumbnail ...

The technique makes use of the Clone Tool, the Healing Brush and the Shadows/Highlight adjustments.

Digital Dental Hygiene

A little digital hygiene or tooth whitening if you prefer, will go a long way to improving a portrait picture.  This, too, is a technique that has value in many different areas.
portrait servies digital dental hygiene
It makes use of a Soft Light Layer, which can also be called a dodge and burn layer.

The advantage of the soft light layer over the dodge and burn tools is that all of the work is done on a layer.  If your results just don't work then simply trash the layer and start again.

In the thumbnail at the right the top teeth were digitally cleaned and the lower teeth were left alone.  As you can see, the results may be subtle but they are very effective and will make a dramatic difference in a portrait.

There are more up-to-date methods for tooth whitening, however this one is a lot of fun to do.  Check it out by clicking the thumbnail or by clicking on the text link to Digital Dental Hygiene.

Change Eye Color

This is a fun technique which will take you beyond simply fixing a portrait - you'll discover how to give completely change someone's eye color.

This technique makes used of a Hue and Saturation Adjustment layer and works best when completed with a Wacom tablet set to change opacity with pressure.

portrait series change eye color

The great thing about the Hue and Saturation Adjustment layer is that the Hue (color), the Saturation and the Lightness can be modified as well as the layers Blend Mode right up until you decide to flatten the image. 

This technique is included in the portrait series because it allows you to make an interesting and maybe surprising change in an image.

This is an easy yet very effective technique, not only to change eye color but to change any color anywhere, including hair which is the next topic ...

You'll find the Change Eye Color tutorial by clicking the link or by clicking on the thumbnail.

Change Hair Color

If you want to make a dramatic change to someone's appearance then change their hair color.

portrait series change hair colorThe actual technique can be as simple as it is to  change eye color with a Hue and Saturation Layer or more challenging using a Fill Layer (Solid Color, Gradient or Pattern).

The Fill Layer technique, in particular, offers an enormous variety of different options.  The sample to the left is a Gradient Fill.

Whichever you choose to do - the quality of the initial hair selection will absolutely determine the effectiveness of your hair color change modification.

This is a more demanding tutorial that really works best with a Wacom tablet and the Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements 9 or 10.  It's one of those tutorials that may take a couple of attempts to get it just the way you want the hair to look.

The instructions to change Hair Color can be found by clicking the text link or by clicking the thumbnail.

High Key Conversion

What the heck is a high key picture, you ask.
portrait series hi key image
It's one of those pictures that has a very narrow band of light tones and they look amazing.  It's included in the portrait series because it is so dramatic!

The first time I saw what was described as a hi key image I wanted to know how to achieve the same results with Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

It's a bit easier with Photoshop but Elements will produce the same results by taking a slightly different approach which is explained in the tutorial and video.

This is one of those techniques where the end results are user defined - if you like it then it's good.

The technique also makes a lot of use of the Dodge Tool (and a Wacom pen and tablet is a good idea as well) to get the final image just the way you want.

Once you're satisfied with the end product then some additional steps can be taken - change the Layer Blend Modes, do some sharpening - to nicely customize the end product.

Click the thumbnail or the text link to High Key Conversion and have a great time with this technique!

Smart Brush ToolPortrait Seeries smart brush

This is an amazing relatively new tool that's included in Photoshop Elements 9 and Photoshop Elements 10.  The Smart Brush seems like it can do pretty much anything and it includes one category called Portrait.

Actually - the Smart Brush tool is a portrait series all on its own.

When the Portrait Category is selected then you've got access to six different ways to improve a portraits, including ...
  • Bright Eyes.  This brush brightens the whites of the eyes and it has to be used with care or creepy results may occur.  The teeth should be white and not cause the equivalent of snow blindness.

  • Details.  This adjustment uses a Brightness and Contrast Adjustment layer and a Layer Blend Mode to adjust - well - the Brightness and Contrast.  These are adjustments I never use but there they are in the Smart Brush Tool.

  • Lighten Skin Tones.  This does exactly what it says - it uses a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer which means it is easy to modify.

  • Lipstick.  This adjustment adds a Solid Color Adjustment layer set to bright red.  Additional modifications are easy to make including changing the color of the Lipstick.

  • Spray Tan.  If you or your subject is looking a bit like the winter was way to long this is a chance to give a portrait a tan.

  • Pearly Whites and Very Pearly Whites.  These two adjustments make the teeth white or very white.  They also need to be used with care as the end result has the potential to look very strange - something like those TV commercials showing folks who have whitened their teeth to eye damaging degrees.

  • Soft Focus.  This adjustment is new in Photoshop Elements 10  It seems to do something like softening sharp edges but the results are really difficult to see and there are no adjustments that can be made.
The Selection Brush Tool really is fun and useful - click the Selection Brush Link to discover how it can help improve your portraits.

Zombie Conversion

In the normal course of events we take a picture and try to improve it using one or more of theportrait series zombie portrait series tutorials.

With this tutorial the goal is to mess up and modify the image to make a zombie - after all - the coming Zombie Apocalypse  is just a myth so lets have some fun with it.

This is a more advanced tutorial that uses a lot of different tools and techniques in Photoshop Elements so it is a fun one to tackle if you feel that you have a grasp on things like ...

  • Layers.
  • Clipping.
  • Displace Filter.
  • Blend Modes.
  • Selections.
  • Dodging and Burning, and
  • Working with a Wacom Pen and Tablet.
The end product can take a few days to complete so make sure you save the file as a Photoshop File which keeps the layers intact.

Perhaps this tutorial has no business being part of the portrait series of tutorials but what the heck - it starts out a a normal portrait shot, right?

Click the thumbnail or the Zombie Link to have some fun doing a Zombie Conversion.

Portrait Series
Page Links

Basic Stuff

Wacom Bamboo

The Portrait Series Tutorials

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