10 Steps for Basic Portrait Editing in Light room


One of the good options of sunshine area is that the ability to synchronise settings. It’s an enormous time-saver once you have a series of pictures, all shot in similar conditions. Once you’re proud of the overall settings (white balance, shadow-highlight magnitude relation, etc.) of 1 image, you’ll synchronise the remainder of the pictures within the series, with constant settings. After that, you’ll solely got to fine-tune the others.

This before image is too cool for my liking, and there is not enough separation between the model’s hair and the remove background. I am also going to smooth out her skin tone, and bring a bit more sparkle to her eyes.

As you work through each step on your own image, play around with the sliders to see what effect each one of them has.

Step #1: Import your file

In the LIBRARY module, import your image into Lightroom. I actually have created a custom sharpening planned (shown here), that I notice works with the bulk of my portraits. I apply this planned upon import – a handy cutoff, particularly once you’re mercantilism an outsized variety of pictures right away.

To apply a planned on import, visit the righthand panel in LR, to the tab tagged “Apply throughout import”. visit Develop settings > user presets, then click on the planned you want to use.

Once you’ve got foreign your file, visit the DEVELOP module.

Step #2: Adjust the white balance

The colour tint in this photo is a bit cold. There are a number of ways to adjust the white balance. If there was a neutral wall or surface in this photo, you could use the eyedropper tool. In this case, there isn’t a neutral reference, so I have moved the sliders under the white balance section to give the image more warmth.

Step #3: Adjust highlights and shadows

The model’s skin tone is a little too light, and her hair and the background are too dark. To redress the imbalance, pull back the highlights and lighten the shadows. You can fine-tune this later if necessary.

Step #4: Increase vibrance and saturation

The image still looks a little dull. Use the sliders under the presence tab to increase the vibrance and saturation, and move the whites slider up to give your portrait a nice clean look. Now it’s starting to look like my model’s real-life skin tone.

Step #5: Crop your image

You can crop at any stage. I’ve cropped this image for a tighter, better-balanced headshot.

Step #6: Soften the skin

Zoom in to take a closer look at the skin. This model is very young with almost flawless skin. Usually I wouldn’t do much, if any, softening with such great skin. However, for the purpose of this exercise, I will.

Select the brush tool. You can load your brush with any adjustments you want to apply. Although there are brush presets you can use for skin softening, teeth whitening, etc., I find them too heavy-handed.

Set the clarity slider down to around -35 to -40, and the (contrast to +35, and the Highlights to +15 or so – this will help maintain contrast and keep the face from looking flat) sharpness up to +20. This will vary per your subject’s skin, and therefore the quite impact you would like to realize. during this example it’ll simply even out the skin tone and provides it a soft, glowing look. A mature person photographed in stronger lightweight, would force a distinct treatment. The lower the clarity slider, the softer the skin can seem. For a dingy look, increase the clarity slider.

Reducing the clarity tends to deform the image, thus you’ll be able to increase the distinction, deepen the shadows and increase the highlights to balance this out. Keep the feather and flow at 100 percent, and brush everywhere the face with an oversized brush.

Step #7: Fine-tune your adjustments

Underneath the image, check the box “Show selected mask overlay” (or use the keyboard shortcut, O) to see exactly what parts of the image your brush adjustments have touched. Often you’ll find it has covered the eyes and mouth, which is not desirable. Still using the adjustment brush, click on the erase brush tool, and remove the brushed-on effect from around the eyes, mouth, and hair.

Step #8: Brighten the eyes

Zooming in even closer, then use the Adjustment Brush to add clarity and sparkle to the eyes. Note that by increasing the clarity, you also make the affected part of the image darker. Compensate with your exposure slider.

In this photo, I also increased the saturation of the iris a little to enhance the blue of the model’s eyes. Be sparing with this technique to avoid an unnatural look.

Step #9: Add colour to the mouth

Moving on to the mouth area now. Again, this model doesn’t need any work on her lips or teeth; this is for the purpose of demonstration. Using the same technique as with the eyes, brush on clarity and increase saturation. I have also moved the temp and tint sliders up to alter the hue of her lips.

Step #10: Whiten the teeth

To lighten teeth, use the brush tool with the saturation slider decreased, and the exposure slider increased just a little. As with the eyes, be sparing with this step.


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