Sometimes, when we are taking portraits, especially candid shots, we are more focused on the emotion of the person sitting in front of us, rather than our camera settings, lighting, etc. We get caught up in the moment and when we get home, the image we upload doesn’t have quite the right feeling that we were hoping for.
Here are several easy steps to editing portraits and touching up faces in Lightroom to get stunning, lively images. The goal is to show you some easy ways to make your images pop and give some personality back to your subject! And each step explained can be applied to almost any portrait you take!
We have the image of this outdoorsy, very friendly man. He looks a bit cold, but his smile and eyes are inviting. Let’s bring him into Lightroom and edit him to make sure we capture the essence of who he is!
In your Basic Adjustment Panel, let’s change the contrast, shadows and blacks. Each of these makes the subject pop a little bit more by giving the image some deeper blacks overall.
Increasing contrast by +38 points eliminates some of the midtones of the image making the image more contrasted.
Increasing shadows by +70 points makes sure that we’re not losing key details in the darker areas of the image, like his beard.
Decreasing the blacks clipping by -82 points clips some of the blacks to help maintain some of the contrast going on.
We didn’t really change a lot, but he is already looking better.
Next, let’s focus on minor facial adjustments.
To begin touching up blemishes or other problem areas on the subject’s face, click on the Spot Remover tool on the upper left size of your editing panel. Set your sizes, feather and opacity so that you can remove the areas you need in one click.
If you notice, ours is set at about the size of each blemish. It’s important to make sure we are in heal mode rather than clone mode, so there isn’t any noticeable circles where we are fixing things. Then click on the areas, acne, blemishes etc that we want to get rid of. For now, he just has two noticeable blemishes. Make sure the area that is replacing the blemish is close in color and texture to your blemish area. If your subject has many blemishes, also try using the soften skin brush.
With this portrait, we avoided the soften skin brush because he started to look very “photoshopped,” and he lost a bit of his rough, outdoorsy look. The soften skin brush can help with faces that have a lot of blemishes, oily skin and lots of pores.
For most individuals, the teeth whitening setting using the standard adjustment brush works pretty well! For this guy, his teeth aren’t showing that much, but here’s how to do it.
Basically, just set the adjustment brush to the right size, and “paint” over his teeth! Then voila, whiter teeth! If the teeth start to look to white, play with the size, feather, flow and especially density setting to get it right.
In the adjustment brush editor, there is an option for editing irises; however, since his eyes are so dark, the custom setting worked just fine. The iris brush brightened his eyes too much and he started to look like an alien! Like with the teeth whitening, “paint” over the areas you want adjusted, but then this time, move the blacks slider to -67 to make his eyes a bit deeper and darker in color.
The other adjustment you can make to someone’s eyes is removing the dark circles underneath. Similarly to how we just edited his eyes, click on new underneath the adjustment brush icon and then set the brush to exposure. “Paint” in the dark areas underneath his eyes and move the exposure slider to +.83. We don’t want to bring the exposure up too much or it’ll be noticeable that only those areas were brightened!
And there you have it, the finished portrait. What we primarily did is increase the contrast in the original image. In the basic adjustments, we tweaked the blacks so that they stood out a bit more than the colors. Then we removed some blemishes, made the model’s teeth whiter and opened his eyes by darkening the irises and lightening the circles underneath.
For each portrait, this should only take you max five to 10 minutes if you know your way around Lightroom. We really strived to make the image look great, but not too edited. This is a super easy way to touch up faces in post production for portraits that really grab the viewer’s attention.