Skip to main content

Basic Photoshop Editing

Lesson 40 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

40. Basic Photoshop Editing


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How to Make Senior Photos Stand Out


What is Lighting in Layers?


Build a Lighting Foundation


Layer One: Main Light


Layer Two: Fill Light


Layer Three: Accent Light


Layer Four: Additional Light


Lesson Info

Basic Photoshop Editing

We're gonna open Photoshop. And actually we're just gonna open these in Photoshop. A lot of times, I'll use Bridge to sort through everything but since there's not that many here, we'll just go from here. I'm just gonna edit a couple of them real quick, to show you what I would do in normal Photoshop editing. Uh, Cooper here, his skin didn't look to need a whole lot, so we'll take a quick look here. Oh yeah, we could do a little clean up here. So what I do in Photoshop, let me get this squared away. Okay, so within Photoshop, I always like to work on new layers when I'm doing skin editing so there's room for correction or if I overdo something. Using the patch tool or the healing, we'll use the patch, I generally do that. We're gonna start a new layer and then within the patch tool we're gonna work on a new background layer, sorry. So it's command-J as a shortcut, that's our new background layer. We're gonna zoom in, I like to work pretty close when I'm doing skin, again I don't like t...

o overdo it, so what I'm gonna do is I'm just using the patch tool to select and remove blemishes that are pretty obvious to me, you know things like this where we can get rid of them but I'm trying to select areas within the same tonal region where we're not changing the texture of the skin. If there's something too large sometimes you have to go in and actually change it using the clone stamp just to make sure that you get that same texture. A lot of these are not specific enough. If you want to see what I'd do with the healing um, you can do spot healing or healing, it's the same idea. We're just selecting an area to pull from and then going from, basically you're finding an area of skin that's clean, near that the area that the blemish is and then brushing it in. Here's one up here. So, we'll just quickly go through that. And you'll get the idea, I'm not gonna do a full retouching here. And there's people who do, you know, frequency separation and all that, I like watching people do that but I hate doing it because it's a lot of time and I don't have time for that so again, I keep it pretty simple and generally I just use the patch tool because I just like to circle it and pull things away, I don't remove moles or things like that, unless they're requested because if something's there naturally, some people like it, other people if they want it requested to be removed. I leave it there unless told, unless it's clearly, you know, just a skin blemish, so we'll call this good for right now for what I want to do. Um, under eyes, so what I talked about is removing some of these dark circles. We'll create a new layer. And then within that layer, we'll go to our clone stamp and the thing you have to do up here is where it says current layer, if you're cloning at a current layer and that layer has nothing in it, nothing will happen. So you want to go to current and below so that way it will pull from the layer below. The reason why I like to use a blank layer is because if I'm gonna save this as a PSD or a layered file later on, if you just start stacking background layers on top of each other, the file gets pretty large but if you're just stacking empty layers that only have these local adjustments the file won't be as big and your computer's old and slow you'll save yourself a little bit of speed. Again, I'm gonna turn this down to almost to 16 percent-ish. And what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna look for an area of skin, I'm just brushing this in to lighten it up, ever so slightly, just so it looks a little less like the circles are a little less, you're just selecting an area underneath and then brushing that in. So it's still saving any texture, I'm not gonna overdo it, and I'll show you before and after and a lot of times I do overdo it but that's why you do it on a new layer. Because you know, if we want to bring it back just a little bit you can. I actually don't mind what I did there. So we'll leave that. I'll do that one more time for his other eye. A lot of times I'll do both eyes on the same layer because I'm doing the same thing. But uh, and make sure you're not selecting from too close. So that's too light for me because I got too close to here so we're just gonna lighten that up a little bit. Another way you can do it is just select the whole thing. If I didn't want to do that, I can make a new background layer, use a patch, this is gonna seem very dramatic at first, select the whole, oops, select the whole area, and then drag it into a new area and you can see that's really dramatic but what you can do is then turn that down. It's essentially the same idea but I don't like how that works some people do, I prefer to just clone in lighter skin and we'll go from there. So we can combine these two layers and then you can see before and after so it's just subtle. I don't like to make people look fake. I like everything to look fairly natural. If people want more extreme retouching, we can certainly do that but I like to make things look as they appear in real life. So we'll start there. And then I save everything. I generally don't save layer files unless it's something that's a composite or something that I'm working on. So we'll save that. We'll work on a couple of these other ones real quick. Just so we have something to work on with alien skin. And then to view any of these larger you just hit space bar within finder. I'm just making sure on sharpness. I know we talked about making one of these that gritty black and white. So let's do this one, actually there isn't really any clean up because you can't see her face. And turns out that her skin is also basically perfect so that's easy, uh, but just to check, let's open one of these in Photoshop and we'll check it out. Um, another thing is I didn't remove, though it is pretty sharp, I didn't remove the red, she's a tiny bit red, so one thing I'll do is I'll open a curves layer within Photoshop. You can see, oops, I didn't do that right. Uh, oh yeah, it's right here. This is your local adjustment curves layer. I'll select the red channel, I'll make a mark, you just click directly in the middle of all these lines. So I'll make a square right there and then I'll use my down arrows and just watch, we'll do an extreme. So then look at a before and after of removing the redness from the photo, that's a lot. But a lot of times I'll do that. And if I just want to do it to skin, I'll mask it off and just do it to the skin. So this is an area where I'll remove a little bit of that red tone that you don't really notice until you've removed it. We'll flatten, we'll save that. I'm gonna get rid of a couple of these hairs that are distracting, I'll do that the exact same way. There's a couple of things here. The exact same way we did the blemish removal so, you know I want to get as close to them as possible. And if you start getting close to edges, like something like this, in your move you'll see, you get that. That means you gotta go in and use a different tool, usually a clone stamp because if you get too close to an edge, it's gonna pull in too much color and over correct it and then it just looks not good. I'm sure there's more technical ways to describe this but I am by no means a Photoshop master, I just do what works for me, I do it because it's quick, it's efficient and I like the way it looks, it turns out looking natural. We're gonna remove those just because I wanna get rid of that hair. I keep mis-clicking here. We'll leave those ones across the nose, that's fine. So we'll call that good for right now. We'll flatten and save, to flatten layers you just hit command, combines them down with the one below. And then we'll save, command-W to close. One thing that is pretty cool that a lot of people don't know is making a stamp layer in Photoshop. Let me open up another one of these just to work on we'll go with this one. So open with Photoshop. Let's say we wanna do a little more work here. We've got a little bit of craziness going on with the moray of the shirt, that's always unfortunate. But we're gonna work on it anyways, maybe we'll make it black and white. So here, if I were to do multiple things, like let's say we wanna get rid of some these fly aways, I would use the clone stamp on a new layer. We'll up that to somewhere around 70 percent. And basically when I want to get away, get rid of fly aways, I'm just picking an area of similar tone, brushing that in, so we're just getting to where it looks natural and where nobody would ever know the difference here with getting rid of the fly aways. Sometimes you gotta down bracket to make the brush just a little bit smaller. And again, some people probably have better ways of doing this, I just do what works for me and is quick and I know that other than myself, nobody will know these hairs were ever here, just patch tooling out ones that aren't near an edge because I know they won't have, they won't leave any dark spots. I don't mind those down there. We'll get rid of a couple of these hairs on her face that are catching highlights, quick skin retouch, just get rid of a couple quick blemishes. Um, you know, just some little things. Get rid of hairs that are catching my eye. We're just patch tooling those away. So dragging them from one spot of the jawline and watching the shadow so it's consistent. Just about gonna call this good. Get rid of some of the under eye marks. She doesn't have much going on there so I'm really not worried about backing it off. A couple more things. Alright, so we'll back off. So let's say I want to leave that layer for later, so we did you know, we did the skin and hair fix. Then I make another layer on top of that. And let's say that I wanted to mess with color tones. I'm gonna do something that's just more extreme to show you guys something. Or we wanted to do levels, we wanted to add more contrast. So within levels, I do this to a lot of images. It shows up as a histogram, this is where my highlights end, so that's also how I know I didn't blow anything out within this image because my, here is 255. This is blown out, my highlights end all the way down at basically 230, so that means you have all this leeway to add more highlights on the back end for contrast. Shadows, it's pretty close to the shadows, you know, there's obviously some nearly true blacks but we'll bring that down so you can see, we know that all the detail is still there because we still haven't blown anything out and it's just a good way to add contrast. So that's why I like to flatten out my images beforehand because I like to add my contrast where I can see exactly how that is working out. When I'm talking about a stamp layers, now that we have a layer of levels, we have a skin correction, we did some hair, you can hit command-option-shift-e, that's a four finger deal there, and it combines all the layers you already did into a new background layer above and now if I wanna get rid of these, you can, because all of our corrections, if we zoom in, you can see all those corrections, including the blemish removal have been stamped into one layer so you can see the hair's being removed down here and up on top of her head. And that's now all pressed into one layer. Whereas before we had them on different layers. And a lot of times, I'll leave those but it's just an easy way to see what we've done so far. We're actually gonna flatten this entire image. And then we're gonna save and we'll work on that in alien skin here shortly. That's basically all I do in Photoshop. Again, I don't do a whole lot. I like to let the skin and everything look natural. I like to keep everything, you know, removing a little bit of redness, adding a little bit of contrast. Ooh, there is one other thing I do in Photoshop that I forgot. That is editing in or adding in my sharpness. So within Photoshop, we're gonna create a new background layer. We're gonna go to filter, I do this to almost everything, I have it as an action normally that's why I forgot. Other, high pass, and I set the radius to about three pixels so this is how I do all my sharpening. You can see it looks really awesome here, not so much. Then you take your blend mode over here on the right in your layers palette, move that to soft light. I should probably look at my screen when I do this. And if we zoom in, it always over-does a little bit so you have to back it off. But you'll see if we zoom in here to 25 percent, watch as I click it on and off, just look at things like eyelashes or eyebrows, see the chin, just a little bit of extra sharpness, ready off, on. Can you see that? It always over-does it a little bit so I usually back it off to around 50 percent. But that you know, it's definitely done to taste, or done per image but that's how I add sharpness. In fact, this one was really sharp to begin with so we're not gonna add a whole lot. But I generally do to that to every image as well. Especially ones that need the sharpness but her eyes are tack sharp here so I'm not worried.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Lighting Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting Terms Guide

Ratings and Reviews

pete hopkins

awesome teacher and awesome technique. after soooo many webinars, it's really great to see someone break it down to the bare bones of lighting with exceptional quality results. i can listen to Dan all day. no pretense, no over the top emotional pleas, no drama! did i say awesome!!!! Plus, I'm a huge fan of the B! and B2 systems. Freedom is key. Now I can shoot anywhere, anytime. Thanks Dan.


This is by far the best class on senior photography I have found on creativelive. Dan explains the technical aspects in an easy to understand format. He does a great job going through studio shots, outdoor shots, editing and marketing. He's given me some great ideas and inspired me to be more creative. I am going to rewatch the lighting set up for the "hero shot". It's super cool!

Tristanne Endrina

Dan was great. His class was very comprehensive but easy to follow. The slides he used weren't flashy. Instead, they were simple and he went at a good pace. I left feeling like I could really pull off the lighting techniques he taught. I'm excited to put what I learned into my photography. :) Thanks, Dan.

Student Work