Three Ways to Apply Tonal Effects in Photoshop

We are used to thinking about photography in terms of color or black and white, but before we arrived here, though, there were a series of processes that resulted in images being monochrome. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to get those looks so you can think outside the box and achieve different tonal effects that will make your photos unique.

Intro Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

Adding a tonal effect can give your photos from different collections a unified look. It can also help to set the atmosphere of a scene, or simply give a nostalgic and antique look. Before photography became as we know it to be today, there were many experiments and formulas chemists used that became popular throughout history.

Many of them had a particular color. The most popular are sepia and cyan and now it’s possible to achieve these and any other tonal effect with just a few clicks. I’ll show you three different ways to achieve it so you can choose which method suits you best.

#1 – SOLID COLORS

First of all, you need to work with a black and white image. There are many different ways to achieve this in Photoshop. The one I’m choosing is Menu > Image > Adjustments > Black and White because it gives you a lot of control.

Three Ways to Apply Tonal Effects in Photoshop

Once you have your starting image as black and white, you need to add a solid color adjustment layer. To do this go to the Layers palette and click the adjustment layers button on the bottom and choose the Solid Color option from there.

A pop-up window will open where you can choose the color you want for that layer. There’s no right or wrong here, it’s a matter of taste but for a sepia tone go somewhere in between the yellow and the red and when you’re happy just click OK.

Solid Color Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

Now the color should have covered the entire image, which is normal as you added a solid color. But you still need to merge it with the image, so open the blending options menu from the top of the Layers palette and choose Soft Light.

Solid Color Soft Light Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

You can also check out the other blending possibilities to see if there’s something that suits you better, but Soft Light usually works best for me. You can make a final adjustment on the layer opacity if you think it needs tweaking and that’s it!

Sepia Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

#2 – ADJUSTMENT LAYERS

To achieve a cyan tone on your photo you need to start with a black and white image the same as the previous process, so I’ll use the opportunity to show you another way of converting your color photo into black and white.

Go to the Layers palette, add an adjustment layer. and from the drop-down menu choose Black and White. On the Properties window, you’ll have the same adjustments as the previous method as I used above.

The difference is that now you’ll have the black and white adjustment on a different layer so you can come back and tweak it or change the opacity at any time.

Adjustments Layer BlackandWhite Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

Next add another adjustment layer, this time choosing Levels from the menu. In the Properties window, you can see a histogram of your image that shows you the blacks, whites, and mid-tones in your image and a corresponding slider to each of them for you to adjust.

Start moving the sliders to increase the contrast of your image as this will give a better result when you apply the cyan color to it.

Adjustments Layer Levels Histogram Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

The final step you need to do is to add a third adjustment layer, this time using the Hue/Saturation option. On the Properties window move the Hue slider towards the blue end until you find a tone that you like, around the 215 is usually pretty good. If you feel the blue is too intense just decrease the saturation value a little until you are satisfied with the result.

Adjustments Layer Hue Saturation Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

Now you have a snowy photo with a nice cold tone to boost the mood!

Cyan Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

#3 – DUOTONE

If you are thinking that sepia or cyan are very nice effects but it would be even better if you apply both or even more, you don’t have to worry. Photoshop has thought about that too.

First, you have to open your black and white image (or convert your image to black and white as we did above). Then go to Menu > Image > Mode and choose the Duotone option. This is correct even if you want three or four tones, you will modify that later.

Duotone Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

A pop-up window will open where you can choose the number of inks (tones) that you want in your image just by clicking on the drop-down menu. For this example, I’m choosing Tritone so three fields will be available to choose the inks.

Triotone Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

You can set the color of each ink by clicking in the second square which will open a pop-up window with a color picker. So just click on the tone you like and hit OK. Then name it in the field to the right of the ink. Repeat this process for each ink color.

Duotone Color Picker Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

Now the colors you selected are all covering the image in the same way. But you can modify that by choosing which ink will affect more which tones. For example, I choose the magenta for the darkest tones and the yellow for the lighter tones, but you can choose any tone and any adjustment you want.

Just click on the first square which will open the Curves window. By default, it will have a diagonal straight line that goes from 0 (black) to 255 (whites) you can experiment moving it all you like until you get the look of your image right.

Duotone Curves Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial

Because of all the possibilities, this is the hardest technique but also the more personalized one that will give you a very unique result. Try it out and let me know in the comments how it goes!

Duotone Tonal Effects Photoshop Tutorial jpg

Your turn

So there you have three methods for applying tonal effects using Photoshop. Do you use any of these for your images? Which method do you prefer? Do you have another technique you like? Please share your tonal effects images and ideas in the comment area below.

The post Three Ways to Apply Tonal Effects in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Practice Your Photography Skills by Getting Creative in the Kitchen

Do you ever get trapped in the marketing frenzy? Is the lack of professional equipment or fancy subjects preventing you from improving your photography? It’s easy to make excuses, but it’s better to get creative.

Keep reading to see that you don’t need to go any further than your own kitchen to practice and level up your photography skills. In this article, I’ll show you some tips and tricks to improve your shooting and lighting using things you find in the kitchen.

Improve photography skills creative food photography tutorial

Exposure settings: f/22, 1/60, ISO 4000, focal length 55m.

The basic knowledge you need to understand and master in photography is exposure. This refers to finding the correct amount of light for your photograph. There are three variables that you need to take into account when making a photograph. They are known as the exposure triangle as they are always connected; they are the aperture, shutter speed, and the ISO.

Since they are linked, when you are adjusting one leg of the triangle you have to compensate with one of the others. Having said this, you can also do the exercises I’m proposing even if you are not yet familiar with shooting in Manual Mode.

Aperture and Depth of Field

As I was saying, the correct exposure depends on three related factors, I’m going to start with aperture, but keep in mind that whatever you move here you need to compensate equally with one of the others.

If you’re not confident yet doing this manually, you can set your camera to Aperture Priority Mode (A or Av) and that way your camera will decide the correct settings to fit the aperture you want.

Aperture refers to a hole in your lens through which the rays of light come together and pass towards the sensor. Obviously, the bigger the hole the more light goes in and vice versa.

However, it also has an impact on the depth of field so you need to learn and practice how to control it.

Improve photography skills creative food photography tutorial depth of field

Left image: f/2.8, 1/2500th, ISO 1600, 55mm
Right image: f/11, 1/125th, ISO 1600, 55mm.

When you are closing the aperture, the f-number goes up (like f/16, f/11) which results in a bigger depth of field. As you can see in the examples.

Improve photography skills creative food photography tutorial depth of field aperture

Left image: f/2.8, 1/1000th, ISO 1600, 55mm.
Right: f/11, 1/60th, ISO 1600, 55mm.

Remember that the distance between the camera and the subject as well as the focal length also impact the depth of field, so try out different settings and keep practicing.

Improve photography skills creative food photography tutorial depth of field fstop

Exposure: f/2.8, 1/250th, ISO 1600, 55mm.

Exercise to practice

Try shooting different objects in your kitchen using different aperture settings. See how it looks at f/2.8 or wide open, compared to using a smaller aperture of f/11 or f/16. You may need a tripod to keep the camera steady.

Shooter Speed and Motion

Another factor is the shutter speed. As its name indicates, it’s the speed at which the shutter opens and closes when you take your photograph. This is more straight-forward to understand than the aperture. The more time the shutter remains open, the more trajectory from the moving object will be captured resulting in a blur. The faster you set your shutter speed, the moving object will be sharper as it will appear frozen.

Improve photography skills creative food photography tutorial shutter speed motion

Left: f/11, 1/640th, ISO 5000, 50mm.
Right: f/11, 1/80th, ISO 400, 50mm.

If you’re not confident shooting in Manual Mode, you can set your camera to Shutter Priority (Tv or S). This way your camera will decide the correct settings to fit the shutter speed of your choice.

Improve photography skills creative food photography tutorial shutter speed

Exposure: f/8, 1/125th, ISO 1600, 50mm.

Exercise to practice

Try finding some moving objects in your kitchen; flowing water out of the tap, have a friend pour a liquid into a cup for you, a fan blowing, etc. Shoot it at all kinds of different shutter speeds and see what it looks like at 1/30th versus 1/2000th. Remember to stabilize the camera when using a shutter speed less than your focal length to maintain sharpness.

The last exercises are about controlling the resulting image with the light that you have to work with, but the next step to level up your photography is about manipulating the light. That’s the idea for the next activities.

Quality of light: Hard versus soft

Depending on the distance and size of the light source, as well as the type of bulb or accessories (light modifiers) that you use with it you can have either hard or soft light in your scene.

Hard light is created by direct sunlight, for example. Or if you’re talking about artificial light it refers to small light bulbs with no light modifiers that are placed farther from your subject. It results in dark shadows with clearly defined edges as well as contrasted colors. It’s not necessarily flattering for portraits, but in still life scenes, it can create a very special mood.

Improve photography skills creative food photography tutorial hard light

Exposure: f/8, 1/30th, ISO 400, 50mm. Notice the hard, well-defined shadows of the kitchen tools here. This is hard lighting.

Soft light is therefor the opposite. It casts diffused shadows that fade away gradually instead of having a defined edge. When you’re working with natural light this is what you get on a cloudy day because the clouds work as a giant diffuser.

However, when you are working with artificial light there are many different ways to soften it. You can move the light closer to the subject or use a bigger light source (or modifier). But talking about hacks you can do in your kitchen, you can simply put a sheet of oven paper (also known as baking paper) in front of your light like I did here to spread out the light (diffuse it) and make it softer.

Improve photography skills creative food photography tutorial soft light

Exposure: f/8, 1/15th, ISO 400, 50mm. Notice the lack of well-defined shadows here, this is soft lighting.

Exercise to practice

Pick a subject in your kitchen and photograph it using both hard and soft light. Window light through curtains or which is not direct sunlight is a good source for soft light. A flashlight or bare light bulb can make for a hard light source – try both.

Lighting style – high key

While on this subject, there is a particular style of lighting with soft light called high key. These are images with mostly light colors and white with soft or no shadows in the image. You can also overexpose the white background a bit to enhance the effect.

A quick trick from your kitchen to achieve this look is to use the light from the extractor hood above your stove. Most stoves have one and it usually gives a diffused gentle light. I find this very useful to do high key images:

Improve photography skills creative food photography tutorial high key lighting

Exposure: f/22, 1/125th, ISO 100, 167mm.

Try creating a high key look at home with items in your kitchen.

Reflection

Another way of diffusing light is by using reflectors, however, they can also serve other purposes. In this case, I was using the natural light from the window coming in from behind the bottle and placed a chopping board as a black background, this brings out the contours of glass objects.

The problem was that the lime wasn’t getting much light and this flattened the entire image. By using an aluminum BBQ-oven cooking tray I bounced the light back into the front of the lime and gave the final result that subtle, but needed punch. Look at this before and after.

Improve photography skills creative food photography tutorial reflector

Left: f/8, 1/30th, ISO 400, 50mm.
Right: f/8, 1/30th, ISO 400, 50mm.

Try it at home

So try a few of these in your own kitchen and see what you can learn by playing around and practicing.

As you can see you don’t need any professional equipment or even cooking skills, you only need to be creative! These are just some examples of what you can do but you can also work on your composition, cropping, colors, contrast and much more.

Share any other kitchen hacks or exercises that help you improve your photography in the comments section below.

The post How to Practice Your Photography Skills by Getting Creative in the Kitchen appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Simulate Venetian Blinds Lighting Using Photoshop

When you’re having a romantic dinner you light it with candles and not a bright reflector, right? That’s because light contributes to forming an atmosphere. When you’re making a photograph, measuring the right exposure is not the only thing that matters. Wouldn’t you agree that manipulating that light is what makes it or break it?

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to simulate light coming in through a window, so that your photo has a warmer ambiance.

Venetian Blinds Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial Intro

Getting started

In this case, we’re going to make the effect of sunlight passing through a window with Venetian blinds. This is why the first thing you need to do is delineate the spacing in between the blinds. To make this task easier you can turn on the rulers, just go to Menu > View > Rulers so you can make the spaces more evenly.

Make a new empty layer by going to Menu > Layer > New Layer. Then select the Rectangle Marquee Tool and start tracing. They don’t have to be perfect just try to keep more or less the same width and the same spacing in between. The amount is up to you, for this example, I’ll do 8.

NOTE: Hold the Shift key down to add multiple rectangular selections.

Marquee Selection Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial

Adding the light

Next, you need to fill the selections with white. You can either select the Paint Bucket Tool and click inside each of the rectangles, or you can go to Menu > Edit > Fill which will bring out a pop-up window. Just make sure the content is set to white and all the selected areas get colored at once when you click OK.

Edit Fill Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial jpg

This doesn’t look very realistic yet, but don’t worry, we’ll make it better. To start, you need to give it some perspective to make it fit your image. For this, you can go to Menu > Edit > Transform > Perspective. Find the real light source and make the light (the white bars) smaller on that side. Then turn it and drag it until it feels as if the strips are coming out from that source.

Free Transform Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial jpg

Tweak the light beams

Once it fits you need to make the white bars look more like light beams by smoothing them using a blur filter. Go to Menu > Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

A pop-up window appears and you can set how blurred you want it by dragging the Radius slider. Make sure the preview option is checked so that you can see how your adjustment looks before you apply it. I’m leaving it at around 50 pixels but this is up to you. When you’re happy just click OK.

Gaussian Blur Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial jpg

Then change the blending mode of the layer where your stripes are so that it integrates better with the background image. You can do this in the drop-down menu on top of the layers panel. Open it and select Soft Light blend mode.

SoftLigh Blend Mode Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial

Apply a gradient

It’s already looking much better, there’s just one final touch that needs to be done. Because the light will obviously be stronger closer to the source and slowly fade away; you need to apply a gradient to achieve this effect.

Add a Layer Mask by clicking on the button that looks like a rectangle with a circle in the middle, located at the bottom of the layers panel. While the mask is selected, go to the Gradient Tool that is hidden behind the Paint Bucket Tool. Then from the top sub-menu, choose the one that goes from black to transparent.

Apply the gradient by dragging your mouse across your image. Follow the lines and make sure the white part of the gradient is at the end of the image where you want the light the brightest. If it’s not, you can just invert the layer mask, or undo it and try again.

Graded Layer Mask Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial jpg

Finishing up

There you go, light passing through Venetian blinds from the window onto your subject without even needing a window!

Venetian Blinds Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial After

Applying the effect to the background only

This, of course, works if your subject is lit by the same source as the background, but what happens if you have two different light sources? Let’s do an example where we want only the background to receive the light from the window and the subject will be lit by a different light source.

Venetian Blinds Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial Before2

Start by doing exactly the same as you did in the previous example. When you’re done with that you have to add one more step. Duplicate the subject that you want to be in front of the Venetian blinds lighting effect.

You do this by selecting the object. It doesn’t matter which tool you use. In this case, I used a combination of the Quick Selection tool refined later in the Quick Mask. Once you have your selection go to Menu > Layer > New > Layer via Copy. A new layer will be created duplicating the subject that you selected onto an empty background; drag this layer to the top.

Venetian Blinds Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial Duplicate Layer

That’s it, your subject will be in front of the lighting effect and therefore won’t be affected by it. Give it a try and show us your results in the comment section below.

Venetian Blinds Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial After2

The post How to Simulate Venetian Blinds Lighting Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Make Fake Shallow Depth of Field Using Photoshop

Do you see your photo and wish the subject stood out a bit more? Does your photo look somewhat flat? Or maybe the background has people or objects that are unappealing? All of these can be fixed with one simple thing: a shallow depth of field.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to achieve this in post-production using Photoshop.

Fake Depth of field tutorial

Let’s start by clarifying that depth of field is the area of your photograph that is in focus, it’s also called focus range. There are three factors that affect your depth of field.

First is the aperture or f-number. The smaller the number, the smaller the focal range and vice versa, so f/5.6 will have a shallower depth of field than f/22. The second and third factors are very linked together; the focal length and the distance to the subject.

If you are using a telephoto lens and you can, therefore, stand farther from the subject you’ll have a shallower depth of field than standing closer with a wide-angle lens. You can learn more about this relationship and its effect on depth of field in my previous tutorial, How to Use Still-life Subjects to Understand Focal Lengths.

However, if you didn’t manage to set up these things when you were shooting, or you still need more (blur in the background) you can also fake the effect of shallow depth of field in post-production. Here are two techniques to do it using Photoshop.

Technique #1 – When the subject and the background are separated

Before Focus Range Fake Depth of Field Tutorial

Before image example.

With your image already opened in Photoshop, start by duplicating the layer by going to Menu > Layer > Duplicate Layer, then make the canvas bigger. You can do this by going to Menu > Image > Canvas Size.

It doesn’t matter the size of the canvas or the direction because you’ll be cropping it later. However, it’s important that there’s enough room for your main subject to be dragged into it on the next step.

Duplicate Layer Canvas Size Blur Background Tutorial

Then select your subject. It doesn’t have to be precise so you can simply use the Lasso tool and draw a selection around it. Now change to the Content-Aware Move tool which you’ll find hidden behind the Healing Brush on the tools panel. Next, drag your selection out of the image into the empty canvas size that you created before.

Content Aware Move Tool Blur Background Tutorial

Once you drag it out, Photoshop’s algorithm will fill the space you’re leaving empty with the information from the surrounding area. If you skip this step and blur the background with the subject still on it, the colors will spill out so it’s important that you do this part.

Drag Content Aware Move Tool Blur Background Tutorial

Now you can crop out the extra background, including the subject you dragged out and change the canvas back to its original size. Your background is now ready for you to blur it. Go to Menu > Filter > Blur > Field Blur. When the blur applies, a wheel appears in the center with a percentage on how strong the blur is. Adjust it to your liking.

Field Blur Filter Fake DepthofField Tutorial

With this blurred layer still selected, add a layer mask to it by clicking on the button that looks like a rectangle with a circle in the middle on the bottom of the Layers Panel. Then paint on the mask with a black brush, over the subject you want to keep sharp from the original image.

Layer Mask Fake DepthofField Tutorial

The part that you painted black is now transparent so the layer beneath it, which is your original image will be visible. Finally just flatten your image and you’re done!

After Focus Range Fake Depth of Field Tutorial jpg

Technique #2 – When the objects are closer together

The technique you just learned is very useful if your subject is separated from the background, but what happens if you want a shallower depth of field because the objects are closer together? Or because it’s the same subject but you only want a part of it in focus?

In these cases, you need to create an effect that is graduated (fades from one end to the other). To do this here is another technique.

Before Shallow Depth of Field Tutorial

First of all, you need to duplicate the layer by going to Menu > Layer > Duplicate Layer like you did in the previous example, or use the shortcut by dragging the background layer into the Duplicate layer button on the bottom of the panel (or hit Ctrl/Cmd+J).

Then apply a Layer Mask to the new layer by clicking on the mask icon. Inside the mask, you will use the Gradient tool to mark where you want the sharp areas. In this case, I used the circular one but you can use a linear one or whichever is best for your image. I turned off the background layer so you see what I mean.

Grading Layer Mask Fake DepthofField Tutorial

Now go to Menu > Filters > Blur > Lens Blur and a new window will pop-up. Here you’ll see your image with the filter applied and a panel for adjustments on the right side.

Lens Blur Filter Fake Depth of Field Tutorial

It’s important that you set Layer Mask as the source, that way the gradient selection that you did before is what will determine how the filter gets applied.

Once you do that, the Blur Focal Distance slider will be enabled and you can start adjusting it to your liking. I also adjusted the radius and blade curvature, but you should move all the settings to get a feeling for the effects until you’re satisfied.

Finishing up

Hit OK to apply and flatten the image to finalize the result. That’s it!

Remember that every image will need a different treatment to look realistic because there are many things that determine the depth of field so keep experimenting and show us the results in the comments section.

The post How to Make Fake Shallow Depth of Field Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Add a Lens Flare Effect in Photoshop

Do you put a hood on your lens to avoid lens flare? Are you always moving and reframing so that the light source is behind you? Then you have missed out on some great creative opportunities. But not to worry, in this tutorial you can learn how to add a lens flare effect in Photoshop.

Before after lens flare effect tutorial

What is lens flare?

A lens flare usually occurs when you have an intense light source hitting the camera either directly or by reflection. This light then gets scattered inside the lens and creates visible marks on your photo like colored circles, starbursts or a haze that covers the image.

How it’s manifested and how big the flare is depends on the intensity of the light, the angle at which it hits the camera, and also the elements inside the lens that cause the refraction. You can recreate a lens flare in Photoshop by going to Menu > Filter > Render > Lens Flare.

Photoshop Lens Flare Filter Tutorial -

A window will pop up where you’ll see a thumbnail of the picture, just click on the area where you want to place the source of the flare, typically in the brightest point. You can also adjust the brightness of the flare, just by dragging the slider.

Finally, you can choose the type of lens. As I mentioned at the beginning, lens flare is caused by the scattering of light inside the different parts of the lens and therefore lenses with different components will cause different kinds of flares. When you are done just click OK.

Photoshop Lens Flare Filter Tutorial Menu

That’s pretty straightforward right? But the result is pretty basic.

35mm Prime lens flare effect Photoshop tutorial

Well, there’s a bit more to it in order to really make the most of this effect. You probably noticed that you set up your flare only with a thumbnail preview, therefore you would probably want to go back to it for adjustments after you see it in the full-size screen, but this is not possible.

So the first trick to mastering the lens flare effect is to turn it into a Smart Filter.

What is a Smart Filter?

Smart Filters is a tool to apply filters in a non-destructive way, so you can adjust, remove, or hide it as many times as you like. To do this go to Menu > Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. A warning window pops up to tell you that in order to make your filters Smart, it needs to convert the layer into a Smart Object, click OK.

To learn more about Smart Objects you can read about them in my previous tutorial How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop.

Now you can now go back to apply the filter as you did before: Menu > Filter > Render > Lens Flare. Each time you want to go back to change anything you just have to double-click on the filter.

Photoshop Lens Flare Smart Filter Tutorial

You can now go back and adjust the brightness, type of lens and re-position the light source. That’s better don’t you think?

50 300mm zoom lens flare effect Photoshop tutorial

Map out where to put your flare using coordinates

However, you still have to do this in the small thumbnail which can be difficult to do if you want to place the flare in a really specific spot. To overcome this problem, there is a simple way to get around it.

Before you open the filters, decide where you want to put the source, zoom into the image and check the coordinates. If your Info tab is not already opened, you can get to it by going to Menu > Window > Info or just pressing F8. There you will see all the color information for each pixel but also the exact coordinate of it in the spaces called X and Y.

Just hover over the place where you want to place your source and take a note of the coordinates.

Info Coordinates Photoshop Lens Flare Filter Tutorial

Now that you know where you want to put your lens flare you can go ahead and do your filter normally. Setup the filters as Smart Filters and then go to Render > Lens Flare filter. Adjust the brightness and type of lens that you want.

To position the source this time though, hold the Alt key when you click on the thumbnail and a new window will open. You can then enter the exact coordinates you selected before.

Position Photoshop Lens Flare Filter Tutorial

In the end, just process the image as you would normally for exposure and color and you’re done!

105mm Prime lens flare effect Photoshop tutorial

One last trick!

When you want to change the direction of the flare, you won’t find this as an option offered in the adjustments of the filter. What you can do is apply it separately and then move it.

First, create a new layer by going to Menu > Layer > New Layer and fill it with black. You can do this by going to Menu > Edit > Fill and choose to use Black as Content. This new empty black layer is where you’re going to apply your Lens Flare without turning it into a Smart Filter because there’s no information to protect in this layer.

Photoshop Lens Flare Filter Tutorial New Layer

With the Lens Flare being independent of the main image, you can move it around as you want. Just select the layer by going to Menu > Edit > Free Transform and then you can rotate and move it until you’re satisfied.

Photoshop Lens Flare Filter Tutorial New Layer Free Transform

There you have it, three tips to really master the Lens Flare in Photoshop. Please show us your best results in the comments section below.

Lens flare effect tutorial Photoshop

The post How to Add a Lens Flare Effect in Photoshop by Ana Mireles appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Make Your Digital Photo Look Like a Polaroid Using Photoshop

Nostalgic for the printed photos? Polaroids are coming back as trend as are many vintage things. Do you want to achieve this effect while still maintaining the advantages of the shooting digital? In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make your digital photo look like a Polaroid and even like a stack of Polaroids in a very easy way using Photoshop.

From digital to Polaroid effect intro

Make a new document in Photoshop

The size of the image in an original Polaroid (just the image without the white frame) is 3.1 inches by 3.1 inches. Therefore, you need to open a new document in Photoshop with those measurements. If you are going to keep the result digital then you can leave it at 72 dpi (dots per inch). If you want to print it then set it to 300 dpi. Make sure the background color is black and then click OK.

Polaroid effect tutorial size document

Double-Click on this background so that you make it a layer, that is by default called Layer 0. Then make a new empty layer by going to Menu > Layers > New Layer.

Add the white frame

Now you need to do the outer frame which is the white border of the Polaroid. In order to make sure it’s centered, you can do it in two steps. First, go to Menu > Image > Canvas Size and this will open a pop-up window. The original Polaroid has a width of 3.5 inches, regardless you put it as both width and height. Make sure the point in the grid below is on the center square.

Polaroid effect tutorial canvas size white frame

Now you just need to make the bottom part of the frame larger. For that, go again to the Canvas Size but this time the point should be in the top square. Now fill this layer with white color by going to the paint bucket tool, make sure white is the foreground color and then click on the layer.

Polaroid effect tutorial canvas size white frame2

Add the background and a drop shadow

Create a new layer that will be your background. It can be white for now, but you can also add a texture like wood, for example, if you want to make it look like a table top, and so on. Go to Canvas Size and make it bigger once again. You can choose the size that’s best for you, here I’m doing 5.5×6.5 inches.

Select the layer that contains the frame (the white rectangle) and click the Add a Layer Style button at the bottom of the palette (fx). Select Drop Shadow and in the window that will pop-up, you can choose your settings. I’m using a 45-degree angle, with a distance of 30, a size 10, and setting the opacity to 29. You can set all these however you want, just move them around until you like how it looks. Make sure the preview option is ticked so that you see what you’re doing.

Polaroid effect tutorial drop shadow

Put your image inside the frame

Up until now, you have prepared your Polaroid and you can use this process for any photo or save it as a template.

To put your photo inside the frame you need to open your raw image and make the adjustments you want until you are satisfied, as you would do normally.

Now open the image as a Smart Object by holding Shift to make the Open Image button turn into Open Object and click on that. Another way to do it is to click the link at the bottom of the image window and in the pop-up window tick the option “Open in Photoshop as Smart Object”.

For more information about Smart Objects you can see my previous article on that topic here: How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop.

Polaroid effect tutorial open as smart object

Now drag the thumbnail of that image into the layers palette of the Polaroids document you’ve been working on and it will be added as a Smart Object there as well. Now you can choose the image and keep working on the Polaroids.

Make sure the Smart Object (your image layer) is on top of all the other layers (with your black square directly underneath). Right-click on the image layer and select Create a Clipping Mask from the menu. Then use the Move tool to position the image to best compose it within the square.

Polaroid effect tutorial clipping mask

Oops, notice my layers are in the incorrect order here. Make sure your image is on TOP of the black square.

Try out some backgrounds to make it more interesting!

How to make a stack of Polaroids

If you want to make a stack of Polaroids follow these directions.

Select all the layers except the background and put them into a group by going to Menu > Layers > Group Layers. Now make as many copies of it as you’d to have like in your stack. You can do this just by dragging the group into the New Layers button at the bottom.

Finally just give a little twist to each one (use Edit > Transform > Rotate). There you go!

Digital to Polaroid Stack Effect tutorial

Digital to Polaroid Effect tutorial

Or you can play around with the composition. Remember you can also change the image that appears in each frame.

Digital to Polaroid Stack wide Effect tutorial

Extra effects

If you like to give your digital photo a printed quality but you don’t want to do a Polaroid, try curling the corner as if it was a page turning in only three steps.

1. Draw a square selection in the corner and draw a Gradient inside it with the Gradient tool set to go from black to white.

Tutorial Curl Turn Page effect 1

2. Go to Menu > Edit > Warp and drag the corner to create a curl.

Tutorial Curl Turn Page effect 2

3. Add a Drop Shadow like you did with the Polaroids.

Tutorial Curl Turn Page effect

Give it a try

So have fun making Polaroids in Photoshop and share your questions, comments and Polaroid compositions in the comments section below.

The post How to Make Your Digital Photo Look Like a Polaroid Using Photoshop by Ana Mireles appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

Do you want to make sure you get the most details out of your shot? How about making sure none of your post-processing is destructive? It sounds like a really smart way to set up your workflow right?

A workflow is a process that goes from initiation to completion. In the case of photography, that implies from the time of shooting to post-processing. So the first thing you need to do is to ALWAYS shoot in RAW mode. This is a format that changes file extension with every manufacturer but they all share one common thing: raw files store all the un-processed and un-compressed data received on the sensor of your camera when you make a picture.

Intro before after - How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

Why shoot RAW?

What is the point of that? Well this means that your file can tolerate more post-processing adjustments and that you can alter some of the settings from the image in a non-destructive way.

As I mentioned before, RAW files have different file extensions and therefore need special software to process them. Your camera surely came with a software that handles your files. However, in this article, I am going to show you how to get the most out of them in Photoshop which supports most raw formats either by default or by using a plug-in.

When you open a RAW file in Photoshop you will see that you can adjust the image with the sliders on the tool palette on the right. Start moving those around to recover the most detail you can from both the highlights and the shadows so you can even out the exposure as much as possible. You can also control the tone of the white balance, the saturation and vibrancy of the colors, and so on.

Raw Window - How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

Tweak the image using the sliders and local adjustments in ACR

Once you have the overall settings adjusted, you can start working the settings in different areas to fine-tune your image.

Use the Adjustment Brush that you’ll find in the Menu bar on the top; you can change its settings like size and hardness on the right. Whatever adjustments you make to contrast or exposure will be applied only to the part where you paint with the brush. This is very useful when you are processing images with a lot of contrast. You can keep going with the other tools like the gradient for other local adjustments.

Raw Brush - How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

Open as a Smart Object

If you are already familiar with processing RAW files, these are likely your normal post-processing steps, after which you would click the Open Image button so that the photo opens in Photoshop with the applied adjustments. However, there is one more step you can add to your process to really make your images pop. You can open your photo as a Smart Object.

Open Object - How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

Here’s how to do it. Instead of clicking Open Image, just press the Shift key and that same button will become Open Object, now you can click it. Having done this, the image will open in Photoshop as a Layer. Now right-click the layer thumbnail and choose New Smart Object via Copy and a second layer, containing a second smart object will be created.

IMPORTANT: Don’t just duplicate the layer or you won’t be able to process them independently; every adjustment would be applied to both smart objects!

You can now rename the layers to identify which adjustments you are going to do in each one. For example, I’m doing Highlights and Shadows for my image but maybe for another image, it’s better to call the layers Background and Foreground, it depends on your image and what it needs.

Double processing

Double processing - How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

The cool part about Smart Objects is that when you double-click the layer, it will open again in the RAW editor, which means that you are back to all the data to keep processing without loss. You can make the adjustments that you need for a specific part of the image.

Finishing up

Now that you have done the best post-processing for each part is time to integrate it all into one amazing picture! Add a mask to the top layer by clicking the Layer Mask button on the bottom of the Layers Palette. With the layer mask selected you can start hiding the parts you don’t need. Remember that whatever appears in black on the mask means that you will see the layer underneath; whatever is white will show the top layer. I’ll turn off the bottom layer so that you can see what I mean below.

Layer Mask - How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

If you find it necessary, you can keep going with your adjustments, as you would normally do in Photoshop. You can add a filter or adjustment layer by clicking on the buttons at the bottom of the Layers Palette. Have a look at these before and after examples!

Before- How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

Before

After - How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

After

Before2 - How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

Before

After2 - How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop

After

The post How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop by Ana Mireles appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Photography can be traced back all the way to the camera obscura; which was an aid for artists who could then draw their subjects from the projection created by the light passing through the pinhole. Following that tradition, in this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to create a drawing by outlining the subject from your digital photo to create a fun, cartoon-like image.

Deer cartoon - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Getting started

You can use this technique on any photo you want and apply it to any subject you like. However, I find it best, especially for your first attempt, that the subject is well defined or isolated so it’s easier for you to outline it. I also personally prefer and recommend that the image is not too busy. So, once you have chosen your photo, open it in Photoshop.

Outline the subject

To trace your subject you are going to use the Pen tool. The way it works is that you create anchor points with each click. A straight line then connects those points. Do this all around the subject.

Once you have this, change the Pen tool to the Convert Point Tool, which you can find by holding down on the Pen until the drop-down menu opens. With the Convert Point, you can curve the straight lines to make it fit the silhouette best. Just click on the anchor point and start dragging it. From each anchor point, you will have to handles, each one to control the line in each direction of the anchor.

Pen Outline - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

This will help you get a smoother silhouette and avoiding unnecessary bumps that you would get if you only trace by adding anchor points.

Straight lines - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

A straight line.

Curve - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Using curved lines.

Create your outline

Once you have outlined the silhouette of the subject, create a new layer. You can do this by going to the top Menu > Layer > New Layer. You can rename it as “silhouette” or “outline” just to keep things tidy, as you will be creating more layers further along.

What you’re going to do next is turn this path into a drawing, more precisely, the line that borders your drawing. Therefore, you can choose which color it will be and how thick you want it. To set it you need to go to the Brush tool and select a hard brush as thick as you want. I’m doing 8px in this case.

You can also choose the color by clicking on the foreground color at the bottom of the tool palette, for this example, I’m using black. Turn off the background layer (click the little eye icon) so you can see how it will look like and then choose your settings.

Silhouette - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Now that you have this ready, leave the new layer active go to the path palette. If it’s already opened you can open it by going to the top Menu > Windows > Path. In there you will see that a Work Path has been created, the icon will show the image as a grey rectangle and the path is the silhouette you traced.

Next, right-click on the Work Path and choose Stroke Path. A pop-up window will appear, make sure the Brush option is selected and click OK.

Stroke Path - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Adding details

You have a border or a silhouette now, but you still need details. Each one will be a new layer and a new path, that way you have it separated and can, therefore, control it more precisely.

If you want two details on the same layer, for example, to keep the two ears in one layer so that any changes apply equally, then you keep working in the same layer. But you do need to create a new path for each one.

Notice here that I have my background layer which is my original image; a Layer 1 that corresponds to the Work Path which is the outline; and a Layer 2 that contains Path 1 and Path 2 which are the two details of the ears. This is why I suggested earlier that you should rename the layers and the paths to keep track of them easier. Continue doing this as many times as you need to finish your drawing.

Layers and Paths - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Apply a filter

Once you’re finished with this, duplicate the background layer. With this new layer active, go to the Work Path (the one that has the outer line of the drawing) and right-click it. From the drop-down menu, choose Make Selection. This will select your subject so that the filter you’ll apply next doesn’t affect the background, otherwise the entire will turn into a cartoon.

Now go to the top Menu > Filter > Filter Gallery. A window will appear with all kind of filters that you can apply and a preview image. In this case, you’re going to select the one called Cutout from the Artistic Filters. On the right side there are sliders to refine the effect, just move them around until you are satisfied. I’m going to do it as Number of levels 7, Edge simplicity 5 and Edge fidelity 2. When you’re done just click OK.

Cutout - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Other tricks

You can also multiply your cartoons, apply modifying layers to change colors or saturation, and anything else you can think of! And the best part is that you can do this to any kind of photo, here are some other examples; share yours as well in the comments!

Three deers - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

The post How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop by Ana Mireles appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

Do you want to make a photo-card for your loved one? Or maybe a flyer for your business? Or add some personalized notes to your photos that turn your album into a scrapbook? If you ever tried to add text on your photos and ended up just covering up the image, this article is for you.

How to Use Layers and Masks to Add Text to Your Photos

Although Photoshop is not a software specially-made for design, it does have some design functions, one of which is the text tool. You don’t need to learn any extra software to integrate text into your photos, you’ll learn how to use layers and masks in Photoshop to overlap the text and the image so that they interact which results in integrated and elegant images.

Since Valentine’s Day is so close, I’ll give you some easy-to-do examples to make a card for your loved one. However, you can apply the same steps to any image to add text for any other purpose.

Overlapping

In this first technique, you won’t apply any effects to the text itself, therefore the result is a clean and simple design.

First open an image of your choosing in Photoshop, one that goes well with the message you want to convey. You can later move the text to make some final arrangements, however, you do need to start with an idea for the text placement. This is because you need to select the part of the subject that you want to overlap with the text. I used the Quick Selection tool, but you can use whichever is best for you.

Selection - How to Use Layers and Masks to Add Text to Your Photos

Then duplicate the layer by dragging it to the new layer icon at the bottom, or by going to Menu > Layer > Duplicate Layer (you can also use the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl+J). Then you will need to add a mask to the new layer by clicking on the layer mask button from the bottom of the Layers palette.

Whatever was selected is now the only thing visible from that layer. You can also refine the edges of this selection if you right-click the layer and select Refine Edge.

Layer mask - How to Use Layers and Masks to Add Text to Your Photos

Add your text

Then, select the Text Tool and write your message. You can choose the font, size and color from the menu as you would in any word processor like Microsoft Word. Now your text is blocking your image but all you need to do to create the overlapping is to drag the text layer in between the background and the selected layers.

Text tool - How to Use Layers and Masks to Add Text to Your Photos

You can move or transform the text to make it fit better as well. Finally, if you want to have a part of the text appear to be behind the image and part in front, to make it more integrated, you can paint on the layer mask with a black brush (black conceals – white reveals) to hide the parts “behind”.

I love you - How to Use Layers and Masks to Add Text to Your Photos

Picture in Picture

Another way to integrate text and image is to use the same background photo as a pattern for the letters and just change the blend to give it a personalized effect.

Open an image of your choosing in Photoshop. Then using the Text tool, write your message in a font that is wide enough to show the image inside, in this case, I used Braggadocio.

Text Love - How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

Add the photo

Now go to Menu > File > Place and choose the same photo that you are using in the background. Adjust its size to fit the text.

Place - How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

Go back to the Layers palette and right-click the text layer. In the drop-down menu choose “Make a work path”. Then from the Path palette, right-click the work path and click on “make selection”. This will create a selection around the letters, but it will keep the path to make the selection later in other layers where you are going to need it.

Path Selection - How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

Then go back to the Layers palette and select the layer with the second image (the one you placed and added a layer mask to); this will have the shape of the letters.

If you want to rearrange the image inside the letters you can make the original text invisible by clicking on the eye icon on the left side of the layer name, and then unlink the mask by clicking the chain in between the thumbnails. That way you can just drag the photo until you are satisfied with how it looks (see below).

Unlink - How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

Once the image is placed the way you want it, you can apply any effect that you like. In this case, I added an adjustment layer with a Gradient map, this can be done by going to Menu > Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map; or by clicking the shortcut button at the bottom of the palette. From there I chose a greyscale gradient.

Finishing up

Finally, I changed the blending mode of the layer to Multiply. You can do this or choose any other blending mode from the drop-down menu on the top part of the layer palette. Then I activated the original text layer (which was white if you remember) and I moved it a little bit so that it would show underneath and it gave it a border to separate it.

Love - How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

The post How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos by Ana Mireles appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Add a Rainbow to Your Images Using Photoshop

A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that needs many specific conditions to come together in order to appear, which is why they are not that easy to come across. They are, however, a beautiful and evocative sight, and they are associated with different cultural and even religious meanings.

For all these reasons you might want to have a rainbow in your image even when there isn’t one, not to worry though, here’s an easy way to create them in Photoshop.

Rainbow landscape

Choosing the right image

Because of its significance and symbolism, you can incorporate a rainbow into almost any scene. However, if you want it to look natural it’s important that you choose a scenario in which it would be possible to see a rainbow in real life. To do so, you first need to understand how rainbows are formed.

When sunlight passes through a droplet of water it gets refracted and what we originally perceived as white light is now spread out into a band of colors called spectrum. Once it’s dispersed, we are able to perceive seven different colors in that light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. This is what we call a rainbow.

Rainbow with reflection

Because it needs sunlight and water drops in the air, a common place to find a rainbow is near a fountain or a waterfall. This is what I’ll use to show you how to do it in Photoshop.

Getting started in Photoshop

Once you have your image opened in Photoshop, add a new empty layer by going to the top Menu > Layer > New Layer. A window will pop-up, you can name it “rainbow” just to keep things organized and then Click OK.

New Rainbow Layer

Then select the Gradient tool from the tools panel and a set of settings appear on the top bar as part of the options to adjust the gradient. On the left side of that top bar there is the Gradient Editor; if you open the menu for that by clicking on the down arrow, another window will pop-up with different gradient colors and styles. On the right of it, there is a gear icon that you can click on for more settings. From that menu, you need to choose the one called Special Effects.

Special Effects - rainbow photoshop

Creating the rainbow

A window appears to ask you if you want to replace current gradients with those from Special Effects. You need to agree to it so that a new set of gradients appears.

Replace Gradients - rainbow

From those select Russell’s Rainbow and adjust the width of each color to your liking with the slider.

Russell Rainbow

Shape the rainbow

A rainbow is theoretically a circle. However, it’s almost impossible to see it complete, only in rare circumstances from a plane. Usually, we see only a part of a rainbow and maximum the top half. In any case, you need to give it curviness. To achieve this just select the Radial Gradient from the top menu.

Curve rainbow photoshop

Then you can use any of the tools from the Menu > Edit > Transform options to rotate, distort or scale the rainbow.

Transform rainbow

Blend it to look more natural

Finally, to incorporate the rainbow into the image naturally, you can change the Layer Blend Mode from the drop-down menu you’ll find on top of the layers window. Select the Screen mode and move the slider to control the opacity.

You can also soften the edges to make it more believable by going to Menu> Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and move the Radius slider until you are satisfied with the result.

Blur rainbow

Then you just have to erase (hide) the parts that are overlapping the landscape by adding a layer mask and using the eraser tool. Note: make sure you are erasing on the mask, not the actual layer.

Erase rainbow

Conclusion

There you have it, a perfectly natural rainbow that can appear anytime when the sunlight passes through raindrops. It’s frequently seen after showers and rainstorms or near a fountain or waterfall. As long as you are looking opposite the sun and are at a low altitude angle.

Splash Rainbow

If you are more interested in the symbolic sense of the rainbow, you don’t have to worry so much about it looking natural. According to different cultures and periods in time, rainbows have been associated with different things.

For Christians, it’s found in the Bible after the big flooding as a covenant from God that water will no longer kill mankind, as a symbol of love. A different interpretation originated in ancient Europe as a legend that says that a leprechaun can be found at the end of the rainbow and if you can stare at it long enough, it will tell you where its pot of gold is hidden. And in contemporary cultures, a rainbow has been picked for the flag of the LGBT community as a sign of pride and symbolism of diversity.

Rainbow in the rain

In this case, I used it with this purpose by adding a rainbow to this photo from an Amsterdam’s Gay Pride Parade where it conveniently was raining so it would have been possible to see one. And you, how are you going to use this technique? Please share with us in the comment section below.

The post How to Add a Rainbow to Your Images Using Photoshop by Ana Mireles appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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