I know, I know, exam’s in two weeks time, but this flu is really hindering my studies. So, to have a short break (and people with flu are supposed to get plenty of rest), I decided to write this simple Photoshop tutorial so that you guys can learn how to make that self-portrait of you (or your girlfriend, or your friends, families, whoever) look like film stars. Okay, maybe not like film stars, but enough to flaunt them to get whatever you want from them!

Okay, just in case you’re wondering what is this tutorial gonna help you do, it is to change this:

into this:

This tutorial involves the basic fixing tools and techniques that everybody should know, so if you get through this, you can practically apply it to any portrait picture or any other picture for that matter.

Now to get started, download the full size picture above here: girl-on-bench-full-size.jpg.jpg

Note that the screenshots in this tutorial is for Adobe Photoshop CS3, but there shouldn’t be much difference with older or newer versions.

Step 1: Levels
Open the picture you have downloaded with Photoshop and let’s start making some tweaks. The first step would be to adjust the Levels so that the bright part of the picture looks brighter and the darker part looks darker. Open up the Levels control window by going to Image > Adjustments > Levels, or simple CTRL + L.

There are 3 sliders under the histogram graph. The leftmost slider determines how many black pixels are there in the picture (the corresponding height of the histogram at that particular point shows the amount of pixels), the middle slider for grey pixels, and the rightmost slider for white pixels. Adjust them so that you’ll get something like the picture below. You may play around with it for a while to get a feel of what it does.

Step 2: Brightness and contrasts
The next step would be to adjust the brightness and contrast setting of the picture. Open up the Brightness/Contrast setting window by going to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. Now, adjust the brightness slider to the right to increase brightness and to the left to decrease brightness. Do the same with contrast until you get a bright enough picture (but not too bright) with good contrast. Always remember it’s up to you how much of the brightness/contrast you want to change, as it is really a matter of preference and how you want the picture to look like.

Step 3: Spot healing
This step is to remove any particular unwanted spot on the person, for example, the small grey patch on her arm.

To do this, we use the Spot Healing Brush tool. Select the tool from the toolbox, and adjust the size so that it’s just a little bigger than the patch, and click once on all the patches you want to remove.

The resulting picture would be as follows:

Step 4: Soften the picture
This step will generally soften the image and gives the picture a soft look. To do this, first duplicate the Background layer by right-clicking on the layer and click duplicate.

Now, with the Background copy layer selected, click on Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Adjust the slider until the whole picture is blurred. In the screenshot below, the value is 2, but I am using a reduced picture size to make the screenshot, so with the full size picture it should be around 8. But again, feel free to experiment with it yourself.

Next, adjust the Opacity of the Background Copy layer until the picture no longer looks blurred but soft enough. Look especially at the skin of her face.

Next, we would like to unsoften certain parts of her face like her eyes, eyebrow, nose, and lips and also her bracelets to make the picture look more natural. For this, while keeping the Background Copy layer selected, click on the Layer Mask button. You should then see that there’s a white box added to the Background Copy layer.

Next, click the Brush Tool and set the foreground colour to black (#000000). Zoom in the picture to her eyes and adjust the size of the brush to the relative size to her eyes like the picture below.

Now, brush over her entire eye and you should see that the blurring effect we did just now will be removed. Do this for the other eye, her eyebrows, nose, lips, and bracelets.

Step 5: Finish!
That’s it, it’s done! The final picture should look like this:

Good luck! And have fun applying it to other pictures as well!