Fixing Faces

We look at several techniques for working with people in photographs. (The examples are taken from Kelby and Kloskowski, The Photoshop Elements 6 Book for Digital Photographers.)

A. Skin tone quick fix. Often a photograph has a color cast from the lighting used or for other reasons. In the camera the white balance may not have been set correctly for the conditions. For example, a flash often lends a blue cast to a photograph unless the white balance is correctly set. If you load an image in Camera Raw mode, then you can adjust the white balance directly. Here is a way to correct the color in an image of a person. Use the file FleshTones.jpg.

  1. From the Enhance menu select Adjust Color - Adjust Color for Skin Tone.
  2. An eye-dropper will appear. Click the eye-dropper on an area of skin and click it once. The image should adjust color as shown in the sliders in the dialog box. Try another spot if the first is not quite right.
  3. Use the Tan and Blush sliders to make additional adjustment.

Use the Temperature slider to warm or cool the image -- usually you will want to warm it a little.
If the adjustment for the skin affects the other areas of the picture too much, then select the skin area with the Lasso or other tool (I like magic wand followed by selection brush) so the corrections only apply to the skin. Be sure to use a 2 or 3 pixel feather from the Select menu.

B. Reducing freckles (or acne). Although you could deal with each spot individually useing the previous method, that can be tedious if you have many freckles or other blemishes. (Who says freckles are blemishes?) This technique works for a large area at once. Try this with the Remove Freckles.jpg image.

  1. First create a layer with a copy of the Background (Ctrl-J or Layer - New - Layer via Copy).
  2. With the new layer selected in the layers palette, choose Blur - Gaussian Blur from the Filter menu.
  3. Adjust the slider until the freckles are blurred away.
  4. In the layers palette create a new blank layer under the copy layer. (Click the icon to create it and drag it down, or hold Ctrl when you click the new layer icon).
  5. Make the top layer active and click Ctrl-G to group it with the blank. The blur disappears from the main image.
  6. Set the foreground to black and select the Brush tool with a soft-edged brush. Set the opacity for the brush to 50%.
  7. Paint over the freckles to dimish them. If it is too much or too little, Edit - Undo (Ctrl-Z), adjust the opacity down or up, and do it again.

C. Reducing Wrinkles. Usually we do not want to remove wrinkles completely, it does not look realistic. This method shows how to control how much you reduce the wrinkles. Use the image Reduce Wrinkles.jpg

  1. Duplicate the background layer as we have done before. Zoom in if necessary.
  2. Select the Healing Brush tool with size about the size of the wrinkles.
  3. Find a sample area near the wrinkles and Alt-click on the sample area.
  4. Paint out the wrinkles.
  5. On the layers palette, adjust the opacity of this layer down. As the wrinkles reappear, move the slider to a point where they have been sufficiently smoothed.

D. Making red the whites of eyes or yellow teeth whiter. This works for making any off-white area whiter and these are the two common ones in faces. Use the images Whiten Eyes-1.jpg and Whiten Teeth.jpg.

  1. Zoom in on the area to be adjusted. Select the area that needs to be whitened using your favorite selection methods (Quick Selection tool, Lasso, Selection Brush, etc.).
  2. Be sure to set Feather under the Selection method to 2 or 3.
  3. Open the Adjust Color - Adjust Hue/Saturation under the Enhance menu.
  4. To reduce the reds in the eye, choose Reds from the drop-down menu. For yellow teeth, choose Yellows. In both cases reduce the saturation for the selected color until the color is sufficiently reduced. or removed.
  5. Increase the Lightness with that slider to brighten the white area. Careful not to make it look like an eye-drops or toothpaste ad where they go too far.
  6. De select (Ctrl-D or Esc) to see the final result.

E. Eyes that sparkle. The example is a baby, but no reason you can't make your own eyes sparkle too. Use the file Sparkling Eyes.jpg.

  1. We use a duplicate layer again so create the copy layer. Also Zoom in on the eyes.
  2. Uder the Enhance menu shoose Unsharp Mask
  3. In the diaplog, adjust the settings. Try these to start (Amount: 85%, Radius: 1, Threshold: 4), then adjust up or down. Focus on the eyes only, don't worry about effects to the rest of the image. Click OK when done.
  4. Apply the filter again with Ctrl-F. Do it one or two more times to really bring out the sparkle in the eyes.
  5. Create a new clear layer under the copy layer. Ctrl-G on the sparkle layer.
  6. Set foreground to black. Select the Brush tool with a soft-edged brush smaller than the eyes. Paint over the irises and pupils of the eyes to bring out the sparkle.

F. Making a portrait glow. This method can be used to finish a portrait to give it a special look. You will recognize that it uses some of the techniques from above. Try this on the image Three Stepfinishing.jpg. You might try it on one of the other portraits already done as well (Skin Softening or Whiten Eyes for example).

  1. Create a copy of the background layer. Apply the Unsharp mask with the following settings: Amount 120, Radius 1.0, Threshold 3. You might lessen the amount for a low resolution (72 PPI or thereabouts) image such as the one here. Perhaps 80 or 100. Note, this makes the image oversharpened for now.
  2. In the layers palette, change the layer blend mode from Normal to Luminosity.
  3. Merge this layer with the layer below (right click on the layer and choose merge down or type Ctrl-E).
  4. Create another new layer and apply Gaussian Blur. Use Radius 6 pixels for this low res image. For a high res you would use something like 20 pixels.
  5. Set the opacity of the blur layer to about 20%. Then merge down again. You should have achieved a glow in the image with sharpness in details like the eyes and hair.
  6. The final steps darken (vignette) the edges to put the focus on the central part of the image. Create another copy layer. Select Multiply for the blend mode.
  7. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool to draw a rectangle about 1/2" to 1" from the border (show the Ruler from the View menu). Under the Select menu choose Refine Edge. Set Feather to about 100, with the other sliders set to 0 -- the selection should get rounded corners. Click the left icon below the sliders. Click Backspace to erase the multiply within the selection, bringing out the image lighter. If the top of the face and hair are still too dark, select the Eraser tool with a soft bursh and rease over those areas that are too dark. The edges and corneres should be darker than the original, bringing out the face better, but subtly.
  8. Save you completed image and open it with the original to compare.