Portrait Editing Master Class Made Simple: A Guide for Beginners

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  By Julian
Portrait Editing Master Class Made Simple: A Guide for Beginners www.sleeklens.com

Hi all, welcome to this Lightroom Tutorial.

Today I’m going to show you some steps that I take just about every time when I’m editing portraits.

You’ll find that formulas like these are extremely rewarding when editing your Images especially when you have them categorized and saved to PDF’s like me, such as ‘Portrait Editing Formula’ ‘Night Scene Editing Formula’

But I can go a bit overboard with this organization business haha so if you can just kinda remember or fully remember one or two an work out the rest on the fly then you’ll be doing just fine.

Ok, so this is our image for this tutorial.

You can see from the image its colors are a little washed out.

So the first thing I’m going to do is to correct my White Balance.

On that image to the right, you will see the Basic panel.

The first box of sliders with the little eye dropper you will see Temp and Tint.

So what these do it to correct things like if your image is too Blue or Green etc.

In our case, our image is washed out, so in Temp, I’m going to add some yellow to warm the image up.

I slid both my sliders up to +10 to add a little warmth.

The trick to this is to just think does that look too Blue etc or too dull, then you try to adjust to what you would see in real life or to somewhere you just like the look of it.

Next and just below Temp and Tint you will see a whole range of sliders starting with Exposure down to Blacks.

We’ll want to go through these ones by one starting at the top to the bottom, then go back in and try to do our best to adjust little by little until we have improved our image.

So starting with the exposure I would look at my image and think does it look too dark? if so then I would slide the slider to the right, but not too much because I don’t want to lose any of the details in the bright parts of my image, so just get to the edge and you’re good.

If you have you and always add a little bit of contrast anyway sliding to the left to darken shadow areas a little bit better.

The trick with this is to keep your edits very subtle.

Next, I’ll balance out the Highlights and Shadows, Highlights will slide to the left and Shadows to the Right, at this point we’re just doing tweaks, below that will be Whites and Blacks, I do these much the same as the Highlights and Shadows only I slide my sliders the opposite way.

With these subtle little changes, you’ll be able to add details back into your image and keep it fairly balanced.

Another thing that I’ll do sometimes when I’m having a hard time editing is I’ll go through Photographers portfolios and look for images that I could use as a basis of where I’d like my image to end up with the colors etc.

Then I’ll compare as I edit until I get as close to the natural skin tones and lighting, I found that very useful.

Next up is Split Toning, I will use this if I’m going for a very specific look, or in other words if I’m feeling a little bit Arts.

So scroll down a little bit until you see Split Toning.

If you like the sliders in split toning you can take a few minutes to have a play around and see what it is exactly they do.

Basically, the top one is Highlights and the top slider is the color.

Below that, you’ll see saturation when you increase that it will intensify the color and bring it back when you slide it the other way.

Then at the bottom, you’ll see the shadows slider section, this is played the same as Highlights, then if you wish you can slide about the slider in the middle to find a balance between the two or you can click on the little rectangular boxes at the top right and use the Lightroom Presets.

So check out our image below.

When I look at this image I’m thinking there’s something not quite right about the skin tones, I don’t exactly know what it is but I feel it’s off so I’m going to do a quick edit to check out what other option I have.

It’s a weird one for me and I’d say you either have it or you develop it as you go along, sometimes you can just look at an image and you’ll feel there’s something off about it and it will take a little bit of playing around to figure out exactly what that could be, I guess you could call it Artistic intuition or Photographers intuition.

This is why I state in a lot of my tutorials not to really stick to a script of what people tell you looks good but to more work until you feel happy.

Although there has to be a cut off point, especially for you perfectionists out there where I know you’d be happy to sit for goodness knows how long trying to get something “right”

For this I would say, 80-90% good is more than enough and let your natural eye develop over time and start to dictate to you yourself what’s good over time.

So for this task, we’re going to be looking at the HSL tool.

You will find it under Tone Curve and Basic.

This stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance.

So what I’m going to do here is, I’m going to go through each one… Hue, Saturation, and Luminance.

I’m going to be looking at the colors in my image to start with, so, for example, the red bow on the bag.

So because it’s red I’ll be using the red sliders to try to make that color more prominent, realistic and less saturated I guess based on the image at hand.

Try to think realistic when doing this, so based on that knowledge we are going to do the same for the skin tone based on the color of the skin tone.

In this case, we’ll be working with Orange and Yellow Sliders with an attentive eye on the Red.

As I go along I’m going to bring out the other colors first, so the blue sign etc and when I have this completed I will have a good idea of how I want the skin and how for to go with it.

Last but not least we’ll take a look here at the Adjustment Brush.

So you will find the Adjustment Brush under the Histogram and above the Basic Panel.

In the image below you will see it highlighted on the right-hand side, out of those 6 icons it is the last one on the right, it looks like a Brush with a halo around the brush part.

You can also press (K) on your keyboard to activate it, this is using a shortcut as they’re known, they’re very useful if you can remember them, although it’s not necessary, I’ve done Lightroom work for years and I barely remember half, I just fly through automatically with my mouse.

Ok, so the way to use this brush is pretty simple.

Click on it and use it to paint over areas that you’d like to highlight or darken.

So for this, I’ll paint over areas that have highlighted such as the folds on the clothes and I’ll also paint on the models’ faces and hair on parts.

To see exactly where you are painting or to check hit (O) and you will now see those areas you painted on turn red.

Now you can use your sliders to edit what was painted on.

Then you can click done, that way you can do the same with shadows if you wish.

So that’s basically it, with these tips you should be able to improve your images by a great margin.




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Graduated from college in 2002 with a degree in Art & Design, I started exploring my way in Graphic Design and Professional Post Production. Full-time freelancer since 2011.

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