Retouching a Studio Portrait

Retouching a Studio Portrait
Retouching a Studio Portrait

In this tutorial we will be learning how to take a few different stock images and put them together with some text to make a movie poster/DVD cover design. If you followed the first part of this tutorial on destroying a plane then you can use that image as well.

For the purpose of this tutorial we'll be making a scaled down version but if you were planning to use this for a poster then you would want to increase the document size and resolution. Let's get started then!


How to Create a Movie Quality DVD Cover Photoshop Tutorial

Step 1

Create a new document with dimensions; 1000x1415px then go here and copy this image then paste it into your document and scale it to fit the full page.


Step 2

We're going to add a bit of disruption in the water so copy this image then paste it into your document then go Image>Adjustments>Desaturate then just scale an move the image until you have something that resembles the image shown below.


Step 3

Change the blend mode of this layer to overlay.


Step 4

Obviously we don't want the peoples heads showing at the front and we want the sky and water to blend in. First add a layer mask to the layer with the explosion on it by clicking the layer mask button at the bottom of the layers panel. Select the brush tool and choose a 125px soft round brush then set the brush opacity to 20% in the main toolbar. Make sure the foreground color is set as black and the layer mask is selected. Now just brush around the parts that you want to hide so brush over the edges of the image first to soften them then over the people and brush over the water a bit to get it to blend. Keep brushing until you get something similar to the image below, if you feel you've brushed to much then just change the foreground color to white then that should unhide the parts that you now brush over.


Step 5

Now if you've already gone through part one of the tutorial then copy the layers from that tutorial straight into this document; if you have both documents open then you can just select all the layers from the plane document (except the background) and drag them into this document. If you haven't completed the previous tutorial then you can just use the undestroyed version of the plane which you can find here. Either way just scale and position it until you get something that you like.


Step 6

Now change the blend mode of the plane layer to multiply, if you followed the previous tutorial you may have already done this.


Step 7

Change the foreground color to black then select the gradient tool then click the drop down arrow in the main toolbar and select the second gradient which should go from transparent to opaque black, if not then just make a custom gradient like this. Make sure the gradient type is set at linear then hold Shift and drag from the bottom of the document up to about the middle of the wing and you should get something like the image below.


Step 8

Change the blend mode of this layer to soft light.


Step 9

Duplicate this layer and change the opacity to 75% and the blend mode to multiply. We did it in this way so we can have the image fade to black at the bottom but still preserve the color saturation of the image; this is a good one to remember. We darkened the bottom of the image for two reasons; firstly to draw the focus away from the dock which stood out too much and secondly so we place our text here and it will stand out.



Step 10

We're going to go for a really cliche movie font, Trajan; used on more than half of all movie posters since 2000. Trajan is overused but we're going to use it here because we're not aiming for originality anyway. Select the type tool then click somewhere in the document then type 'the' and change the size to 40pt, the font to Trajan/Trajan Pro and the color to white. Now move the text to just below the guy like in the image below.


Step 11

Now select the type tool again and click in the document then type 'PlanE' (note the uppercase/lowercase characters) and change the size to 180pt, I also changed the size of the 'E' to 170pt as it looked to big. The last thing that you need to do is to change the tracking (horizontal character spacing) of some of the letters to even it out. DO this by going Window>Character and highlighting one letter at a time and changing the tracking until it looks balanced and 'symmetrical'. Now move it to where it looks good.


Step 12

Right click on the plane text layer and go to blending options and add a drop shadow and an inner bevel using the settings shown below.


Step 13

We want to add some soft vignetting now, which means darkening the edges of the image. You could do this with a gradient but here we're going to brush it on because we don't want it symmetrical and you have more control if you do it this way. So first create a new layer then grab a soft round brush with a size of about 150px and an opacity of about 10% then set the foreground color to black. Now just brush round the top corners (the bottom ones are dark enough) make sure you don't brush over the plane and keep doing this until your image resembles the one shown below.



Step 14

Most movie posters contain some credits and most of them use extremely compressed type. Basically here what you want to do is to type in your text and center justify it, it doesn't really matter what font you are using but set the color to something like #39362d. Now to compress it go Window>Character to bring up the character editor again then highlight the text and adjust the character width as shown in the image below.


Step 15

Now add some more text, I added the names of some actors at the top and a website at the bottom and just kept it pretty simple.


Step 16

I felt the image was a bit cold at this point so to fix this I added a curves adjustment layer by clicking the button at the bottom of the layers panel. Next just go through each channel and alter the curves slightly, the main thing I did was to lower the amount of blue in the image. Try to get your curves looking like the image shown below.



Step 17

I also felt the flames were not bright enough so I fixed this in two steps. First add a levels adjustment layer and drag the black slider in to about 35 and the white slider in to about 225; this will brighten our image a bit as well as raise the saturation.


Step 18

You'll notice that the flames look awesome now but the rest of the image is a bit off so we're now going to mask off the adjustment layer. This time hold Alt and click on the layer mask button in the layers panel and this will create a layer mask and fill it black so this adjustment layer is fully hidden now. Select the brush tool and choose a 30px soft round brush with an opacity of about 20% then set the foreground color to white. Now select the layer mask and just paint over the flames a few times and you will notice that when you paint over them they will become brighter as what we are doing is unhiding the adjustment layer in these parts.



To finish this tutorial off I thought I'd point you to a great PSD file of a DVD case, you can download it it here. What I did was saved my image as a jpeg then pasted the jpeg image into the DVD case document and this shows you roughly how the cover will look. This is optional but it's the kind of thing that would be useful if you were to present a DVD cover design to a client. You can see what mine looked like below


Before and After

Retouching a Studio Portrait Photoshop Tutorial

Retouching the background

Here is the original image. As a photo it looks fine but it looks flat and boring. This Photoshop tutorial will show you techniques used to make the photo have a stronger impact. You can follow this tutorial with one of your own image or you can use the image below:

Creating the mask

The first step is to isolate the model from the background. I used the extract and color range tool to create this. First I used the extract tool (Filter > Extract) but it didn’t work very well for the hair.

I then use the color range tool (Select > Color Range) to select the areas that were hard to extract using the extract tool.

Now we have a mask in it’s own layer.

Adding a gradient to the background

With the mask created, I can add a gradient to the background. Adding a gradient to the background is a simple and effective way to enhance a boring background. Here is a preview of what the layers will look like in the end.

To create a gradient background, we’ll be adding a gradient fill layer using the mask that we just created. To do that, hold down the Ctrl key and click on the layer thumbnail of the layer “Mask”. It will load the selection of the layer. Choose Select > Inverse to inverse the selection. Then, choose Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient.

In the Gradient Fill tool, move the center of the gradient behind the head. You can do this by clicking and dragging on the document window.

To increase contrast, you can change the gradient so that it is like the image below.

Finally, adjust the opacity of the Gradient Fill layer. I set mine to 50% opacity.


Begin by creating a new layer for dodging and burning. Position the layer above the gradient fill adjustment layer. Then, change the blending mode to soft light.

Choose Edit > Fill and use the settings below.

The layer should now be filled with a 50% gray.

Add a layer mask using the shape from the Mask layer. Hold down the Ctrl key and click on the layer thumbnail of the Mask layer . Then, click on the in the layers palette to add a layer mask.

Click back on the 50% gray layer thumbnail and use the dodge and burn tools. For the image below, I used the burn tool to darken the models right side of the face, hair, top, and her arms. Then, I use the dodge tool to brighten the other side of the models face.

Here is a before and after effect of the dodging and burning.

Eye Brightening

Brightening the eyes will have a dramatic effect. It can be easily done by using a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast to add a new Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. Rename this layer to Brighten Eyes.

For now, set the brightness to 50 and contrast to 33.

Select the layer mask and choose Image > Adjustments > Invert. This will invert the layer mask from white to black.

Using the brush tool, paint the layer mask where the eyes are. You should see the eyes brighten as you paint. Then, go back into the Brightness/Contrast settings and readjust the settings.

Hair Shine

Finally, we’ll add a shine to the hair. Start by using the quick selection or magic wand tool to create a selection of the hair around the area where you want the shine to appear.

With the selection, choose Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient. Position the layer above the BrightenEye layer. Change the blending mode of the Hair Shine layer to overlay. You should have a layer like the image below.

Go back into the Gradient Fill settings. Set the gradient to white to black and style to reflected. Checkmark the reverse option then click and drag on the document window and position the gradient where you want the hair shine to appear. Adjust the scale.

In the Gradient Fill window, click on the gradient to edit it. You should have a window like the image below. Create a gradient like the image below. To do this, click and drag the top left input slider to the middle of the gradient bar. Do the same with the bottom left input slider. Then, click on the individual input sliders and adjust the settings as shown in the image below.

We now have a hair shine but it does not match the color of the hair. We’ll add back a little of the hair color to the shine.

  1. Click on the bottom left input slider.
  2. Click on the color setting and a color picker window will appear.
  3. Click on the hair to capture the color of the hair.
  4. Move the color picker towards the top left until the hair color looks natural.
  5. Click OK three times to exit out of the gradient settings.

We have added the hair shine but if you look closely, you can see some artifacts.

We can easily fix this by blurring the layer mask. Select the Hair Shine layer mask then choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Adjust the settings until the unclean edge fades.

If the hair shine is overlapping the skin, use the Minimum filter to hide it. Choose Filter > Other > Minimum and adjust the slider.

Here is the before and after effect of adding hair shine. You can add emphasis to the eyes by aligning the hair shine with the eyes.


Final Results


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6 comments on “Retouching a Studio Portrait”

  1. Hi,
    I am Arnob. I am willing to work with you and seeking a long term contract with a reputed company like you. I am basically experienced with photo editing manly in masking, clipping path, retouch, and color balance. So it would be a great job if you have any job for me on these areas.

    I am willing to discuss with you and do a short term trial project so you know if I am perfect or not.

    Warmest Regards,

  2. Really great tutorial! I love the dodge and burn on the soft light layer...just what I wanted to know..and the shine is very cool!
    thanks So much!

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