Tired of using the same tools in your photo editing? We’ve rounded up the 34 best Photoshop effects you can use with minimal effort to give new life to your images.
One of Photoshop’s strengths is that many common photo editing tasks can be achieved in several ways. Which Photoshop effects you choose may depend on the time you have, the look you want, or more likely, whichever you’re most familiar with.
Our aim in this tutorial is to provide you with 34 killer tips, tricks and need-to-know Photoshop effects that you can use to make the most of your photos.
So the next time you’re faced with a photo editing task that you’re unsure how to solve, don’t just reach for the first tool you can think of that could possibly do the job, or go to the trouble of flicking through back issues for a particular tutorial, simply refer to this article and take your pick!
Whether it’s retouching portraits, adding textures or making a multiple exposure effect, you’ll find all the answers right here!
Killer Photoshop effects 1-5
Best Photoshop Effects: 01 Camera profiles in Adobe Camera Raw
The colours and contrast of images opened in Adobe Camera Raw can sometimes look subdued compared with JPEGs, which are processed in-camera.
The fact is that Adobe’s generic conversion profile is quite conservative – but it’s possible to get much closer to the camera’s own rendition using the Camera Calibration tab. This contains a Camera Profile menu.
Adobe Standard is the default option, but you can also select alternatives such as Camera Standard, Camera Landscape or Camera Vivid. These are a much closer match to the camera’s own Picture Styles (Canon) or Picture Controls (Nikon).
Best Photoshop Effects: 02 High Pass filter sharpening
High Pass sharpening works on a similar principle to Photoshop’s regular Unsharp Mask or Smart Sharpen tools, increasing the contrast around object edges, but in a different and highly controllable way. First, duplicate the image layer, then use the Filter>Other>High Pass filter.
Choose a small Radius, for example, 2 pixels, for sharpening, or a large Radius, for example, 30 pixels, for a local contrast boost.
Desaturate this High Pass layer and set the Blend Mode to Overlay. To reduce the sharpening effect, reduce the layer’s Opacity. To increase it, apply a Levels adjustment to the High Pass layer to increase the contrast.
Best Photoshop Effects: 03 Blitz zits and wrinkles with
the Spot Healing Brush tool
It can take a long time to clone out spots and blemishes in portrait shots. The regular Clone Stamp tool can do a good job, but it takes time and practice.
Instead, use the Spot Healing Brush tool – and check the Content-Aware button on the Options Bar.
You won’t need to choose a clone source, since Photoshop will automatically select surrounding pixels for the repair – just set a brush size slightly larger than the blemish and dab it out.
The Content-Aware technology is uncannily good at preserving the shapes and objects in the areas you’re repairing.
Best Photoshop Effects: 04 Perfect tricky selections with
the Refine Edge tool
You can’t always get selections right first time, especially with tricky edges such as with human hair. So click the Refine Edge button in the Options Bar.
The Refine Edge Panel enables you to smooth, feather or move the selection edges, but the Edge Detection tool is the important one.
Set a Radius value roughly equivalent to the width of the ‘ambiguous’ area around the edge of your subject, and paint along the edge to perfect the selection.
At the top, choose a different background from the View drop-down menu and check the Show Radius box to help judge the effect.
Best Photoshop Effects: 05 Smooth skin using the Adjustment Brush in Adobe Camera Raw
The Clarity slider in Adobe Camera Raw is mostly used to increased local contrast and make objects and outlines stand out more clearly.
It’s like sharpening applied over a much wider radius, and unlike regular contrast adjustments, it doesn’t affect the overall contrast, so you can use it on images that already have a full tonal scale without the risk of clipping.
The Clarity slider operates around a zero point in the centre, so you can apply negative adjustments as well as positive ones. And if you apply negative clarity, you get a localised smoothing effect that works wonders on skin.
To ensure the slider doesn’t affect other detailed areas such as hair, use the Adjustment Brush to select only the areas of skin you would like to smooth.
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