Saturday, May 24, 2008

Retouching and Color Correcting in Photoshop

For the most part, my little camera takes pretty good pictures. However, sometimes you'll get the occasional shot that is great, posed great, but there are distracting things in the background and the lighting wasn't right. Don't let those things ruin what could be a really great photo. This is also really good when you scan images.

Here's one I took of our dog, Sophie. Loved the shot, but boy was the color off:

Being from a graphic design background, I've used photoshop for years to retouch photos. I first started retouching photos back in 1988 using an airbrush, paint and actually spraying on the photo. I think I used guache, it was real thick. I remember the first photo I had to retouch, it was a black and white photo of a ballerina, and she had sweaty armpits, so I had to remove the sweat. Photoshop is a much easier, quicker and a less messy way to "airbrush" photos.

Use the clone tool:

To correct the above photo, I removed the tree from behind Sophie's head, which was really distracting, and corrected the color. I also took out the white slobber from her mouth. It was super easy to take out the tree. Using the cloning tool, pick a pretty decent sized brush (in the above picture, the brushes are located in the upper left under the word Photoshop) , you don't want a brush that is so small that it will take you forever, or one that is too large, because then you'll be "airbrushing" over things that you want to keep. Just copy some grass and "dab" over the tree. To "copy" the grass, while in the cloning tool, hold down the option key and click. (I'm on a mac, may be different on a PC)

To get the softness of her hairs on her right ear to not look touched up, I simply went over to her left ear, and using the cloning tool, I copied the top of her left ear hairs along with some grass, went over to her right ear and "stamped" where the soft hairs are sticking up into the grass. When you make your copy, make sure you have some of the background and some of the hairs on the ear. Then I just stamped a few times until it looked correct. If the color of the ear or grass looks funny, go back to the other ear and try again. You can always go in and refine a piece of cloning by using a smaller stamp.

Using the same steps, but a smaller brush, I removed her spit.

Color Correction:
There are a lot of different ways to color correct. I'm going to just tell you about the ways I find our the easiest for beginners. The first thing I usually do is use a filter.

Once you choose the filter, a window will open giving you different filter options. You have 2 warm filters to choose from and 2 cool filters to choose from. In this particular photos, I could tell that the lighting was too cool, so I added a warm filter. Once you pick the filter, there is a sliding bar and you can choose how much warmth you want to add. Mine is preset to 25, I slid it down to 10. This may be all you need to do. Easy peasy.

Another way to color correct a photo (you can also use this to recolor digi elements) is by using variations:

Here a window opens and you can choose which photo looks best. You'll be able to tell what color needs to be added. You can slide the bar to either coarse or fine, making the changes subtle or dramatic. I tend to slide toward the left, a little less than the middle, you don't want to over saturate or color it and end up with Oompa loompa looking people. You can also make your photo a little darker or lighter.

The last thing I usually do, once I think the color looks better, is I use the brightness and contrast window and do a 10 brightness and a 10 contrast, and once you see the preview, it looks like you peeled off a light gray film from the photo. Really makes the colors pop. Once you master this, you can play with the Hues and saturations. But, for beginners, I think using variations is super easy.

Here's my finished, retouched and color corrected photo, all ready to be printed and placed in a scrapbook page:

Have a great Saturday!!


Veronica said...

Chris, thanks!! I'm taking U&R and learning new techniques as I go, but I'm pretty sure this won't come until maybe the 3rd class she offers!! I really appreciate the time you took to post this. BIG thanks again!

Pamela said...

Wow...very cool! :)

Kelli said...

great information! my version (7.0) doesn't have the photo filter option, but at least I learned the variations, thanks!

Debbie, a/k/a scrappydeb said...

What a great photoshop lesson (and great pic of the dog!). I just used that cloning technique in PSE to remove a untility wire from a photo... LOL!

Marilyn said...

WOW!!!! That is awesome. I have photoshop, and have no idea how to use it. I should look into some classes or something. You did an amazing job!

ricanlaw said...

Oh, I need to bookmark your informative site, because I struggle. Thanks for sharing.

Samantha said...

That's wicked cool!! Can you believe I have PSE 6 sitting right here and haven't loaded it yet? Crazy, huh?