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Sort of a tutorial on portraits!

I have had a couple of requests asking me how I do my portraits.
I may not do this the right or the most effective way, but this is what I have learnt from playing around so far, only just a newby to all of this.

Sheet on the good ol’ hills clothes line for the backdrop, and the sunshine for my lighting. I havent used reflectors before, but would like to get some eventually.

Other than that, I cant really say what I do, I just shoot.

Using one of my shots ‘Blue’ as an example, using 4 steps to achieve, the eyes, the skin tone, converting to mono, and selective colour. The way I bring out the eyes is something I do for all my portraits.

To start with, use the lasso tool, and select the eyes and mouth, then apply the unsharp mask.
To help bring out the eyes even more, use the dodge tool, set for midtones at about 7% using a small brush.

*I never sharpen the entire image in portraits, just the eyes, and mouth, sometimes the hair.

I use a program called ‘Neat Image’, a noise reduction program, which helps smooth out skin tones. This is the only shot i have used on a childs portrait, as I dont really think its necessary, and it can also effect the eye and mouth area, so careful not to overdo it.

Layer – New Fill colour – Solid colour – set mode to color. In color picker set all values in RGB to 28.
This is the way I convert most of my images to mono, much more effective way than desaturating image.

Select the second layer and using a small soft brush eraser tool, delete the parts you want in colour.
For the edges change the opacity to about 20% to avoid a harsh line and to blend between mono and color.
Then going back to the first layer, I play around with the levels
and colour adjustment until you get the effect you want.

I think thats about it. Hopefully this helps, and if anyone has any other tips, corrections, or better ways to do this, would love to learn.


  • HenkStolk
    HenkStolkabout 7 years ago

    Hi Andy,

    That’s so cool. Really kind of you to reveal your secrets…
    Will try it out.


  • David Meacham
    David Meachamabout 7 years ago

    I do much the same only I use the bloat tool to enlarge the eyes slightly.
    For unsharp mask I usually change the image to Lab colour, click on lightness in the channels pallet, use unsharp mask set at about 35 to 40 then click back on the lab and convert back to rgb – sounds complicated but it stops the unsharp from highlighting bright spots

  • Paul Tupman
    Paul Tupmanabout 7 years ago

    Hi Andy.. This is so good of you to share some tips on here.. I’m sure like me, everyone will be more than happy to read this! A BIG thankyou.. all we need to do now, is capture the same quality of shots as you in the first place!

  • Basia McAuley
    Basia McAuleyabout 7 years ago

    Hi Andy!
    Thanks so much for sharing this, I’m hopeless with PS so this is a great help!

  • Andy73
    Andy73about 7 years ago

    Thank you Henk, Meach, Paul and Basiamc. I hope you can make out my poor instructions, and shocking spelling.

    Thanks heaps Meach, will give your technique a go :o)

  • Matt Dawdy
    Matt Dawdyabout 7 years ago


    You are way too modest. This is great stuff. It also is pretty cool that you don’t mind sharing your secrets.

    Thank you,


  • Mark Ramstead
    Mark Ramsteadabout 7 years ago

    Very nice of you to share your methods and name names! Thanks!

  • Andy73
    Andy73about 7 years ago

    Thank you Matt and Mntman. Sharing is good, and no secrets here :o)

    And thank you Matt for your tutorial on how to make the image show up here.

  • Cathleen Tarawhiti
    Cathleen Taraw...about 7 years ago

    This is so helpful – thanks alot Andy, I’m practising right now. Can I just ask, if you didn’t use ‘Neat Image’, how would you do the skin tone in Photoshop?

  • Andy73
    Andy73about 7 years ago

    YW Cathleen. Hope it helps :o)
    I am unsure how to do it in PS, but will try and find out and add that in too.

    Neat image have a demo version if you wanted to have a play around with it. Its well worth getting, it does an amazing job on all types of images.