It’s often said that a face is like a visual biography. Deep wrinkles, smile lines and faded scars all hint at a life that’s been full of incidents, regrets and laughter. If you can capture these features effectively, you’re half way to achieving the most crucial aspect of any portrait – character.
To shoot these details, strong directional light works best (we’ve used the evening sun). Expose for the highlights and you’ll record perfect skin texture with rich shadows.
But Photoshop offers ways to tease out even more detail, so if a face really is like an autobiography, we can make the chapter titles stand out in big bold lettering with a few subtle enhancements.
Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools enable you to selectively lighten or darken areas, so are ideal for this type of work. We’ll show you how to use them, and apply the Shadows/Highlights command to reveal even more detail, but only in the areas that really need it.
01 Convert to mono
Open your portrait and press Cmd/Ctrl+J. Double-click the layer name and call it ‘Black and White’. Go to Enhance > ‘Convert to Black and White’. Click the Newspaper preset. Drag the Red slider to the left slightly. Hit OK.
02 Burn the lines
Duplicate the layer again, using Cmd/Ctrl+J. Call the new layer Dodge/Burn. Grab the Burn tool from the Tools panel. In the Options bar, set Range to Shadows and Exposure to 10%. Zoom in and paint over the wrinkles to darken them.
03 Dodge the ridges
Switch to the Dodge tool. Set Range to Highlights and Exposure to 10%. Paint over the tops of the ridges to lighten the highlights and accentuate the lines around the eyes and forehead. Use the ] and [ bracket keys to resize your brush tip.
04 Use Shadows/Highlights
Duplicate the layer. Call the new layer Shadows/Highlights. Go to Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Shadows/Highlights. Set Lighten Shadows to 0, Darken Highlights to 15 and Midtone Contrast to +15. Hit OK. Hold Alt and click on Add Layer Mask.
05 Mask the details
Grab the Brush tool and hit D to set the colour to white. Press 5 to set Opacity to 50%. Make sure the Layer Mask thumbnail is highlighted in the Layers panel. Paint over the lighter skin areas to gradually reveal the Shadows/Highlights effect.
06 Make tonal tweaks
Click the Create Adjustment Layer icon and choose Photo Filter. Select Warming Filter (85) and set Density to 40%. Next, add a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer and push contrast to 15. Tweak as necessary using Adjustment Layers.
QUICK TIP! Whenever you’re dodging or burning, set a low exposure value of about 10% and then build up strokes gradually.
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