by November 10, 2003 0 comments

Everything may seem okay with a picture that you have taken. But, if you look closely, you will see blemishes that you may want removed or parts that you may want enhanced, such as making the eyes more lively, removing the scratches and making the lips a bit more prominent. Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, you would need to do these touch ups; in fact, photographs that get printed on magazine covers etc go through many hours, even days, of touchup. The standard tool for such touchup jobs is Adobe Photoshop. Let us see how to do some touchups ourselves with Photoshop 7.

What we have here is a professionally-shot photograph, with studio lighting. Though the picture may look fine, it has its share of problems. Some of them are listed below:

l Underexposure
l Too much tan on the skin
l Dull eyes
l Over exposed phone
l Dirt from the camera lens that has been photographed
l Miscellaneous face corrections

Original image

Under exposed picture
We will first adjust the brightness and contrast of the picture from Image >Adjustments>levels and brightness/contrast, to solve the problem of under exposure. You will have to make this adjustment on pictures that have been taken without optimal lighting. Play around with the controls a bit till you get the right mix. To see the effect of the changes you have done, toggle the preview option on and off.

Finished image

Fair and lovely
Do you think that the model is a little too tanned? Well let’s work on her complexion and try to make her fair!
First, we select the body, usually using the lasso tool or with paths. Be careful to select only the body and not the phone, etc in the picture. Save the selection from Select >Save Selection and name it ‘body’. We will use this selection later as well. With the body selected, select Image>Adjustments>Curves. Click on the Options button in the popup. This opens the autocolor color correction options. Change the colors, mid-tones and highlights by selecting them from the image. After this, adjust the curves to get the right skin tones. You will also need to select various shadowed areas individually and treat them in the same manner, also adjusting brightness and contrast regularly.

Photoshop CS (the latest version of Photoshop) brings a new tool to eradicate the problem of shadows that persists with Photoshop. The tool, called auto curves, gives a lot of options for correcting this problem.

Basic corrections using levels & brightness/ contrast

Dull eyes
The eyes in the original picture look a bit yellow and subdued. To rectify this, choose the white portion of both the eyes and feather the edges (2 to 4 pixels). Now, increase the lightness from the hue/saturation dialogue box and subsequently the brightness from Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast. This will increase the whiteness in the eye and make the eyes stand out a bit more. But, beware! Don’t get carried away in making the eyes white or you make have the lady looking like a ghost.
We have adjusted the white part of the eye. Now lets get to the pupil. The person is wearing colored contacts lenses and they incidentally match the color of the phone in her hand. To make her eyes more pronounced, select the pupils of both the eyes and open the hue/saturation dialogue from the Image>Mode menu. Change the hue to a little brighter blue and increase the saturation a bit. This will give good color to the eye. Again, experiment with different settings till you are satisfied.

Fair and lovely, after removing extra tan

Burnt phone
Look carefully at the phone. It is a bit over exposed. Let’s add some detail.

First, separate the phone from the other parts of the picture. Make a selection of the phone. Once selected, adjust its levels, curves and brightness/contrast, to make it look better. Do these the same way we have practiced just now. Once that is done, we move on to adjust the screen of the phone. It looks right now. 

Select the screen of the phone. Double click on the foreground color and choose white. Now from the Edit menu choose Fill. In the Fill dialog box, choose the fill percentage as 70% and press OK. This will make the screen brighter while retaining the detail.

At this point you will notice that the detail in the keypad is missing. Select just the keypad and adjust the curves in. This will increase the detail of the keys in the phone. 

Touch up in eyes

Have a look at the top of the phone where the brand name is written. The name is virtually un-readable. There are two ways to handle this. If the photograph is for an advertisement for the phone, then you may want to take the graphic of the manufacturer’s logo and replace it in the original photo. The other way, which we have used here, is to select the portion where the logo is present. Feather it a bit and play with levels and curves to make the logo stand out further. 

Dirty camera
There are scratches all over the photograph. One of them actually goes across the chin of the girl. Also, there is a nail on the back wall, which is looking really dirty. Let’s take the nail out.

This would require more work if you’re using anything below Photoshop 7. In Photoshop 7 or above you have the leisure of using the patch tool. It makes cloning really easy. On the other hand, if you are using an older version you will have to be satisfied with the cloning stamp.

Detail in the phone improved

Let’s see how we use the patch tool, which is a big boon, especially when you are working with faces. It can be used in two ways, either as a source or destination. Click on the patch tool on the tool palette. A toolbar will appear on the top of the screen below the menus. It will have two options of source and destination. Select the area of the photograph that has scratches, click on the source radio button and drag the selected area on top of a similar clean area elsewhere in the photograph. That’s it! Just patch the bad areas with the good areas and you are through. Caution! Don’t overdo it. That will take the natural skin-tones away from the picture and give it a patchy look. Also select the areas carefully. Select the exact area that needs to be worked on. Selecting larger areas may not give you the results you want.

If you want to use the sample of a clean part of the skin and patch it over acne, wrinkles or scratches, you can do so by selecting the clean area, clicking on destination radio button and dragging the selected area over the bad/ damaged area. 
If you are using an older version of Photoshop then select the cloning stamp tool. Choose a soft brush and take the sample from the clean area of the skin by pressing the alt key and clicking on the clean area of skin. Then paint carefully on the bad area so that the result is not patchy. It will take effort, but either you live with it or upgrade!

Luscious lips
After all this is done, there are some little things that can be done that will enhance the photo just a bit more. For example, you can select the lips and adjust the saturation in the hue/saturation dialog to get a more pronounced color in the lips. The same can be done with the ears. Here the levels can be adjusted to get better detail in the same.

All these modifications are general corrections that you would make while correcting a photograph. You may omit or include various steps as required, according to a particular picture.

Let us know how you fared while correcting the face!

Geetaj Channana

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