Its been a while since Ive updated how exactly I edit photos. Ive gotten a lot of requests to make a filter or preset but my approach to editing photos isn’t that simple. So here is an easy paint by numbers approach! To start off youll need to setup your photoshop workspace. Click HERE for that tutorial.
For this tutorial well be using a photo that my friend, Austin Miller, took on his phone. Just goes to show you can still make some good pictures using what you have!
Ok so we have our image opened up in Photoshop. The first thing I do is flatten the image out. When your camera outputs an image its trying to make it look as normal as possible. Which is fine for most people who have no intention of editing a photo. However, we do. So think of this as making the image a dry sponge ready to soak up the color correction were about to apply. If you did what we are about to do without doing that, you would end up with a very over edited looking image. Like trying to add water to a saturated sponge. So, step one, right click on your background layer and copy it.
Now comes the flattening bit. On your keyboard, click and hold Control+Shift+A. This brings up the raw editor. You can also click on the filter menu at the top of the screen and select “camera raw filter”. Now drag the sliders as they are shown in the screenshot above. Some images will start to look grainy in the shadows, so if you encounter that, just bring that shadows slider a bit more to the middle until it looks good.
Now were going to apply some color! Click on the grid looking button (step one) and then select filmstock_50 (step 2). Photoshop has some filter effects built in via the “color lookup” adjustment. I personally like how the filmstock_50 option looks but you can play around with the different ones and see what you like. For this tutorial though, stick with the filmstock one.
Now my next trick, adding clarity. Right click on the background copy layer and copy it again.
Open up the Raw editor again (CTRL + SHIFT + A). Now were going to make it pop. Drag the clarity slider and shadows slider all the way to the right. Again, if the shadows start to get really grainy looking, adjust the shadows slider towards the middle until it looks ok.
Looking good so far but were not there yet. The shadows are a bit dark and I like commercial looking editing so we need to fill in the dark bits with some fake light. Create a new layer and then put it in between the color lookup layer and the top background layer.
Now select your brush tool. Adjust your brush so that the hardness is set to zero and the brush size is set to about the size of the object your going to paint the light on. In this case its about 500px. Next set your color to white. And finally paint the airplanes dark spots. Dont worry about being precise on this. Were going to dumb it down later.
Now change your layer blending mode from normal to soft light. And finally set the opacity of the layer to 35%. When your doing your own editing on other pics, mess around with the opacity a bit to see what you like. Dont over do it but generally speaking it will be somewhere between 20% and 40% for a natural looking light.
Now comes the film look. I like to take some of the detail out of the shadows and highlights to give it a different feel. So to do that click on the levels adjustment button, and then drag the sliders to approximately where theyre shown in the screenshot above. Again when your doing your own editing, play with this a bit.
Now were going to focus the detail. That 3rd background layer where we added all the clarity is currently doing that to the whole image. So first select that layer, then add a layer mask to it. (step two). Then select the gradient button from the tool bar on the left. Then select the linear gradient option (step four). Select back for our color, and then click and drag approximately where the step six and seven arrows are indicating.
Cropping time! You can do this at any point, but now felt like the right time. Click the crop botton on the toolbar and crop the image. If you need help with some basic cropping rules check out my top three photography tips tutorial by clicking HERE.
This feels better! Now evaluating, I still feel like the airplane could be a smidge brighter. So well do another bit of light paiting.
Lets create another layer on top of the other light layer we made previously. Select your brush tool again, but this time be a little more precise on the area youre painting. Youll need to adjust the brush size a bit to do this.
Well leave this layer blending mode on normal this time, and set the opacity low. In this case, 10% works out well. Now the final step, merge all those layers together! Click and hold CRTL+SHIFT+E. And then save it!
The finished product! Well thats my whole editing process short a few tweaks here and there for sharpening or reducing grain. Also tutorials found on my website. Thanks for reading and happy editing!color, contrast, editing, free, how to, learn, photoshop, tutorial