Dramatic Lighting: how to create stylish portraits using simple Photoshop effects

Dramatic Lighting: how to create stylish, on-trend portraits using simple Photoshop effects

How to create dramatic lighting in Photoshop: steps 13-18

How to create dramatic lighting in Photoshop: step 13

13 Burn the shadows
Grab the Burn tool from the Tools Panel and set Range: Shadows, Exposure 15% in the options. Zoom in close and paint with the Burn tool to darken down shadow areas on the face and body. Get in close to the eyes and use a small brush to emphasise the lines and detail.

 

How to create dramatic lighting in Photoshop: step 14

14 Dodge the highlights
Continue burning to emphasise shadows and detail across the face and hair. Switch to the Dodge tool and set Range: Highlights, Exposure 15% then paint to lighten the brighter areas on the face and body, such as the upper cheeks, dribble and whites in the eyes. Click on the Lab channel when you’re done.

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How to create dramatic lighting in Photoshop: step 15

15 Copy and mask
Right-click the layer and choose Duplicate Layer. Select Document: baby_before and hit OK. Go back to baby_before and click the Add Layer Mask icon in the Layers Panel. Grab the Brush tool, hit 2 for 20% opacity and D for black, then paint to soften the effect in areas where it looks too strong.

 

How to create dramatic lighting in Photoshop: step 16

16 Boost the colours
Click the Create Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and choose Vibrance, then set Vibrance +22, Saturation +18. Next add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Select Yellows from the Master dropdown and drag Saturation to -31. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E again to merge another layer.

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How to create dramatic lighting in Photoshop: step 17

17 Sharpen selectively
Right-click the new merged layer. Go to Convert to Smart Object, then Filter>Other>High Pass. Set Radius to about 3.5px then hit OK. Change Blend Mode of the layer to Overlay, then hold Alt and click the Add Layer Mask icon to add a full black mask. Grab the Brush tool and paint with white to selectively sharpen.

 

How to create dramatic lighting in Photoshop: step 18

18 Final touches
Click the Create Adjustment Layer icon and choose Curves, then drag the curve line downwards slightly to fine-tune the overall brightness of the image. Finish by highlighting the upper dodge burn layer, then use the Burn tool set to Range: Midtones to darken the corners.

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