Simple Portraiture Photo Edits

After my last two blogposts, I was actually asked by a number of people how I edited the photos for them!

This year, I resolved to really level up my content, and that includes my full-body shots. So, I'll just talk you though my process and hopefully leave some of you inspired to try it out yourselves!


How I shot the photos

I shoot with my Canon Kiss X5 (I got the JP regional model, UK is 600D, US is T3i). I chose this camera because it has a flip-out screen and great video capabilities, but of course it is a wonderful DSLR camera too.

I shot with my Sigma 10-20mm Wide Angle Lens, as the room I shot in wasn't very long. It's a great lens, I'd really recommend it :) 

I shot in RAW mode: this is the way to take photos in the highest quality your camera can produce.

And I shot in a room filled with bright daylight. 

How I edited the photos

I edit using Photoshop CS6, however you can use free programs such as GIMP (which I started off on, perfectly good program), or any similar photo editing program which uses layers.

So, here's my base photo

I've already done colour correction, boosted vibrance, basic editing to come out with a nice, bright, clean image.

Make a duplicate of your base layer. Then, select the QUICK SELECTION TOOL. Not all programs have this, so if they don't then use any lasso tool!

Then, select your body! You don't have to be perfect about this, but try and get it as close as possible. 

Then click the REFINE EDGE button. You will be able to preview your selection effects, so try and make it a smooth and clear selection.

If your program doesn't have this feature, make sure your lasso selection is as perfect as it can be. Then, go into the select panel, and try and find options such as 'smooth, feather', anything which will take the jitter off the edge of your selection.

Inverse your selection so now the background is selected, and then delete the background, leaving your body selection intact. 

If you hid the background layer, you would end up with something looking like this!

Create a new transparent layer between your background and your newly liberated body.

Now comes the fun part: brushes! 

You will likely need to download some brushes to fit the aesthetic of the photo you want to create. If you do some google searches for "photoshop brush resource" "photoshop brushes", visit websites like deviantart or this, which I found very useful, you will eventually end up with an eclectic mix of brushes in your collection. 

I can't teach you to be creative! but the great thing is that it's not very hard :) Just experiment. I selected some random brushes, and stamped them onto my transparent layer in a plain inky black. I put the cityline on a layer in front of my feet, as I thought that would be a cute touch.

There's no real rhyme or reason to what I've done, it's all plain experimenting.

To manipulate further, you can use these: styles. The defaults are mostly pretty grim, but you can edit them as you like and create all sorts of useful effects, such as a border/stroke around your image, a drop shadow, colour or pattern overlay, there are endless choices. 

I tried out a few things on the stars, but settled on a simple gradient overlay. 

I also adjusted the opacity on the planet and made it a little more transparent.

On the city skyline layer, I added a vector mask. This means that whatever is black is transparent, and whatever is white is visible. Vector masks are very useful and well worth researching more, however for this photo I simply used it for opacity. I wanted the skyline to have a gradient opacity and become lighter towards the top, so I used the black/white gradient tool to achieve this. 

Final photo!

Of course this editing isn't very advanced. However, it's a really good practice exercise to learn more about what you can do with photoshop. I'm still learning and this has really helped me create more interesting images. I hope you can share some of your photoshop knowledge with me in the comments!