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Romanticize your portraits by adding a soft, subdued look

Added on Tuesday 27th of March 2007 01:30 am EST


Adobe Photoshop 7/CS/CS2

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows



When you need to add a romantic flair to a portrait, you need the perfect technique—something eloquent and soft that isn’t going to take all day to create. We’ll show you a technique that will take your image from drab to dreamy in no time flat.


To enhance portraits with a romantic flair, we’ll:

     Convert the image to grayscale for the foundation of this technique.

     Hide background elements of the image to better focus on the portrait.

     Gently introduce color back into the portrait to highlight special features.



Cupid isn’t the only one who’s busy in February as everybody’s looking for a new way to jazz up boring photographs for their special valentine. We’ll show you how to create a soft romantic portrait such as the one shown in Figure A. It’s quick and easy so it fits into your time constraints, but eloquent enough to please even the fussiest receiver.




Start with a portrait


To follow along, you’ll need a portrait photo. If you want to use our example, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article. Then extract the file portrait.psd, launch Photoshop and open the image shown in Figure B.



Convert to grayscale


The first thing we’ll do is convert the image to grayscale. We aren’t trying to achieve the perfect tonal balance; we actually want some of the highlights blown out for effect. We’ll do this with a Channel Mixer adjustment layer.


To convert the image to grayscale:

1.       Click on the Create A New Fill Or Adjustment Layer button, new_adjustment located at the base of the Layers palette.

2.      Choose Channel Mixer from the resulting pop-up menu to display the Channel Mixer dialog box.

3.      Select the Monochrome check box.

4.      Enter 75 in the Red text box, 25 in the Green text box as shown in Figure C, and click OK for results shown in Figure D. Keep in mind, a different image may require different settings.






Remove the background


Next we’re going to remove the background from the image, but we aren’t going to get involved in any hard-core selection techniques. It’s a soft look we’re after, so we’ll use (primarily) a soft round brush to paint a white cloud over the areas of the background we want to hide.


To paint over the background:

1.       Press [command] ([Ctrl] in Windows) and click on the Create A New Layer button create_new located at the base of the Layers palette to display the New Layer dialog box.

2.      Enter White in the Name text box and click OK.


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