So, here’s the scenario. You are the proud owner of the latest digital SLR camera on the market and you have been deemed the official photographer of the family for all events. You have your neat collections of lenses and you think you have the art nailed down to a tee. Still, you wonder why your pictures aren’t as good as the ones you see in the magazines. Well, did you really think it was the magic of their camera?

Let me a teach you how to make your family photos (or any photos) just a little more pleasing by using your friendly household tool: Adobe Photoshop. For our little tutorial, I will just use a picture of our average Hollywood celebrity as an example.

At first sight, one wouldn’t notice much flaw in this picture. But there are always ways in which you can make it better.

Okay, so go ahead and load your picture into Photoshop. Keep the original picture in the bottom most layer and name it “original.” Now, duplicate this original layer. Click on Layer, Duplicate Layer to do this.

Rename this layer Copy 1. Your layer’s palette should look like the image below.

Now, blur the Copy 1 layer by selecting Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur. Enter the value of the radius as five. Change the layer mode to Soft Light and the Layer Transparency to 75 percent.

I am sure you can already see improvements in your image, so let’s just go and make even more. Let’s give some shine to hair now. It looks a little too pale, doesn’t it? Duplicate the original layer and name it Copy 2, so that now you have a total of three layers. Now, take the brush tool and choose a suitable color. Make sure the color you choose is not too different from the color of the person’s hair in the picture. Here I have chosen hex value = CD9461.

Use the paintbrush to give some highlight on the hair. Randomly paint the hair and make sure you only color the hair and not the neck or the background. (This will take you back to the “color inside the lines” books in pre school!)

Once you’re done, change the layer mode to Soft Light and the Layer Transparency to 75 percent (just like we did above).

Now, it’s time to fix her lip color. First, create a new layer by going to Layer, New Layer. Use the zoom tool or Ctrl + to zoom closer into the lips. We are going to color the lips in your favorite lip color. For this I have chosen hex value = E0663B. Make sure you just paint within the lips. One way to do this is to use a thin brush to make the outlines of the lips, then use a thicker brush to fill in the color.

Now, change the layer mode to Soft Light and ta da! Magically, a new set of glossy lips appear.

She’s almost ready, but a quick look again reveals that we can add a little twinkle in her eye. This is similar to the lip technique. Create a new layer. Name it Eyes. Zoom into her eyes and use the elliptical marquee tool to select one of her eyes. (We’ll do them one by one).

You can fill this selection with any color you want however, it will be more realistic to stick to common eye colors like green, blue, brown, etc. Here I chose to use green.

Yikes! Now she looks like phantom of the green opera, huh? Just hold on, we’ll get it fixed! All you need to do now is deselect (Ctrl + D) and change the layer mode to Soft Light. Now, you have your final makeover picture ready.

You can definitely see the differences between the original and the redone picture below.

Well, now that you have learned the trick of the trade, go ahead and paint your picture glam!

~Yogesh Bakshi