How to edit your standard lens portrait
01 Raw adjustments
Download our image an follow along! Open the start image in Adobe Camera Raw. Set Exposure to +0.80 to brighten the image, and set Highlights to -25 to recover the blown highlights in the hair. Set Shadows to +25 to add some fill light to the shadows, and click Open Image to open the shot in Elements.
02 Retouch the skin
Duplicate the ‘Background’ layer and rename the duplicate ‘Skin’. Take the Spot Healing Brush, and click on spots and minor skin blemishes to remove them, or click-and-drag to remove larger blemishes such as strands of hair. Take the Brush tool, Alt-click on a light skin tone to make that colour the foreground colour, then set the brush opacity to 15% and paint over the face and hands to even-out the skin tones.
03 Add some blur
Duplicate the ‘Skin’ layer and name the new layer ‘Blur’. Go to Filter > Gaussian Blur, set Radius to 4 pixels and click OK. Add a mask to the layer, select the Brush tool and paint over the face and hands with a black brush at 50% opacity to fade the blur and reveal some of the original skin texture.
04 Reveal facial details
Next increase the brush opacity to 100%, set the brush size around 50 pixels and paint over the eyes and mouth completely remove the blur. The full blur effect will now only be applied to the backdrop. Next we’ll tweak the image’s tones. Start by adding a Hue/Saturation layer, and set Saturation to -30 to mute the image’s colours.
05 Cool it down
We’ll cool the image using two Levels adjustment layers. Add the first Levels layer, select Blue from the channel menu and set the Midtones slider to 1.20 to add blue, then add another Levels layer, select Red from the menu and set the Midtones slider to 0.89 to add cyan. Target the masks for each Levels layer, and paint over the skin with a black brush at 50% opacity to tone down the tint and restore some warmth.
06 Boost the contrast
To boost the image’s contrast add another Levels adjustment layer, and set the Shadows slider to 24, Midtones to 1.09 and Highlights to 213. This adjustment blows some highlights on the model’s right shoulder and in her hair above, so target the layer mask, and paint over those areas with a black brush at 75% opacity to reveal some of the original detail.
07 Eyes and teeth
When you’re happy with your colour and tonal adjustments, click the top layer and press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E to create a merged layer at the top of the stack. Take the Dodge tool, set the brush size 150, Exposure to 10% and Range to Midtones, and paint over the eyes and teeth to lighten them.
08 Let it snow!
To finish off we’ll add some fake snow. Select the Brush tool, and set the foreground colour to white. Start with a brush of around 10 pixels and set to 30% opacity, and click to add snowflakes. Alter the size and opacity of the brush and add more flakes, so they don’t look too uniform. Paint over the grass and foliage with a large white brush at 30% opacity to create the effect of a light dusting of snow.
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