Portrait Photo Retouching Photoshop Tutorial

It is more than just black and white. Use this photo retouching technique to fully reveal potential of your images by boosting contrast, fixing skin problems and adding nice glamour look.

Original photo has some problems with color, contrast, and digital noise. But I believe that it has good potential. Simple conversion to B/W using Desaturate command does not provide satisfactory result. The result of photo retouching using the workflow described below.
All keyboard shortcuts are for PC. I don’t have a Mac, but as far as I know the main difference is use of the COMMAND key and OPTION key on a Mac instead of the CTRL key and the ALT key on a PC.Here is the workflow:
Step 1. Convert to LAB colorThere are many ways to convert image to B/W (using Channel Mixer, combining masked channels, using Lightness channel in LAB mode and so on). And the worst way to convert to B/W is usually Image – Adjustments – Desaturate, as it produces very dull images in most cases. Whatever technique you use, the goal is to gain as much contrast as possible and keep image details .

For our image we will use Lightness channel in LAB mode to convert to B/W.

Select Image – Mode – Lab Color.

LAB is perhaps the most complicated Photoshop image mode. Its main advantage is that lightness information is separated from color information. We will use Lightness channel to create base for our B/W image.

Step 2. Copy Lightness channel.Go to Channels palette. Select Lightness channel, press CTRL-A to select all, then CTRC-C to copy Lightness channel to clipboard.
Step 3. Return to RGB. Paste to create new layer. Return to Layers palette.

Select Image – Mode – RGB Color. Press CTRL-V to paste contents of Lightness channel as a new layer. Rename new layer to “Base”.

Step 4. Adjust levels to get more contrastUse Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Levels. My settings:

Step 5. Boost contrast!Create two new layers by pressing CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-E twice. Rename top layer to “Shadows”, and second from the top layer to “Highlights”. Set “Shadows” blending mode to Multiply.

Click “Highlights” layer and select Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves. Check “Use previous layer to create clipping mask”. Then use curve like this:

Then click “Shadows” layer and select Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves. Check “Use previous layer to create clipping mask”. Use curve like this:

Image after “contrast boost”:

Step 6. Colorize using Hue/Saturation adjustment layerSelect Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue/Saturation. Check “Colorize” and choose desired Hue/Saturation settings:

Step 7. Use “Glamour Portrait Retouching” techniqueTo make skin look smoother use technique described in Glamour Portrait Retouching tutorial.
Step 8. Add frame.To give image finished look I added a simple frame to it:

Short summary of the tutorial:

  • Convert to LAB mode and Lightness channel to create B/W image.
  • Use adjustment layers for levels, curves and other corrections instead of “plain” curves, levels etc.
  • Boost contrast using two layers for shadows and highlights. Top layer blending mode should be set to “Mupltiply”
  • Add little color using Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
  1. Abszy says:

    Great work dude. I was looking for such a tutorial. Will try it not and let you know 🙂

  2. futuna says:

    i’ve seen and tried alot of tutorials but this one rocks the most! great one! thanx for sharing.

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