10 PHOTOSHOP Tricks to Improve ANY Photo

TEN TECHNIQUES IN LESS THAN 10 MINUTES! | Learn tonal adjustments like the movies, sharpening tricks, color effects, removing skin blemishes, black and white photos, and more!

In this Photoshop tutorial, we’ll go over these ten techniques in Photoshop:

  1. Boosting contrast the easy way
  2. Sharpening power in Photoshop
  3. Beautify sunrises & sunsets
  4. Cleaning up skin
  5. Change the color of anything
  6. Trendy faded effect
  7. Fast digital re-lighting a scene
  8. The best black and white technique
  9. Realistic lens flares
  10. Tone and contrast like the movies (v. cinematic)
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Site Exclusive Tutorial Recording Notes:

Disclaimer: these are the actual notes I used to record this video and are written in a language you may or may not understand. Hopefully, you find them useful or cool.

  1. Boost Contrast
    An easy way to quickly boost the contrast of any photo is by adding a Levels Adjustment Layer and set it’s Blend Mode to “Soft Light”. Use the Opacity slider if the effect is too strong.
  2. Sharpening
    The best way to sharpen in Photoshop is to go Filter>Camera RAW to send the photo to the editor and use the Detail tab to find the sharpening function. The trick is the hold down the Alt/Opt key as you drag the sliders for an advanced view. Also, use the masking slider to make sure you restrict the sharpening to area with detail.
  3. Beautify Sunsets
    To make your sunsets explode with color, add a Color Balance adjustment layer to your sunset or sunrise photos and pump blue, magenta, and red into the image in the Midtones, Shadows, and Highlights to make any sunset look epic.
  4. Clean up skin
    A great way to clean up skin blemishes is to create a new layer and use the Healing Brush set to sample “Current & Below.” Hold Alt/Opt and sample a clean area of skin and paint away the blemishes. You can also use a larger Healing brush and paint over large areas of blemish and reduce the layer opacity to fade stuff like large scars, wrinkles, and the like.
  5. Change the color of an object
    To quickly and realistically change the color of any object, use the eyedropper tool to sample a color in the image to set a foreground color and add a Solid Color fill layer. Invert that layer’s mask by hitting Cmd/Ctrl + I and set the layer Blend Mode to Hue or Color. Set your foreground color to white and use the brush tool in that layer’s mask to reveal this color effect over anything we wish to change.
  6. Faded Effect
    To create a smooth faded shadows effect, add a Curves Adjustment Layer and pull up the black point and then pull down a second point at around the 80% brightness range. Boost the highlights by dragging a tiny bit upward around the 40% brightness area of the Curve. Bonus: Use the color channels in Curves to add some blue to the shadows and a drop of yellow and red to the highlight areas of the photo.
  7. Quick Lighting Change (black/white gradients)
    To quickly change the balance of light in your photo set your foreground color to black and add a Gradient Fill layer. Choose the Foreground to transparent gradient set to 90º angle and drag the gradient to just darken the bottom of the photo. Hit OK. Repeat this step, but set white as your foreground color and set the gradient angle to -90º. Set both layers to the Soft Light Blend Mode.
  8. The best black and white
    For the best consistently good black and white photo, press “D” and then “X” to set white as your foreground color and add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer and use the Foreground to Background gradient. Your image will look crazy, but hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer and get your smooth yet contrasty black and white image.
  9. Lens Flare
    For really cool lens flares that interact with your photo, create a new layer and set it to Linear Dodge (add) and then double-click the layer to open Layer Styles. Check off “Transparency Shapes Layer” and grab a large, soft-edged brush and paint with foreground color set to white to paint in flares.
  10. Change color and tone with Gradient Maps
    For great color grade effects and toning, head over to http://moviesincolor.com/ and copy an image of a color palette you like and paste it into Photoshop.
    Select the background image of your document and add a Gradient Map layer and set the layer to Soft Light and then specifically click on its thumbnail (so mask isn’t selected) and click the gradient stripe in the Properties panel and select either color stop and sample colors from our pasted image to begin grading this image using those colors we took from Movies in Color.