The launch of Photoshop CC has seen the introduction of some major new features, including some excellent photo retouch tools and expanded Smart Object support.
See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials
Smart Objects allow for non-destructive editing, storing layers upon layer of retouching within one visible layer, rather like a family tree, to use a metaphor. When the parent image is altered at the roots (or DNA), its effects are automatically seen throughout the branches (the offspring).
Here we use the new Lens Correction, Shake Reduction and Smart Sharpen filters; and the new Camera Raw filter, which lets you adjust photos using Adobe’s Raw processing engine, rather than just as you import images.
Other new tools in Photoshop CC include
better ways to work with vector shapes and paths.
The photo of burlesque dancer
Billie Rae I’m using here was the image I used in my first ever tutorial for Digital Arts back in 2011, as I want to show how the advancements in Photoshop have improved what’s possible in retouching.
Therefore, the original image as edited in Photoshop CS3 is over to the right with the 2013 version, so you can compare the differences.
On your new layer, right-click on the layer name to open a sub-menu. Click on ‘Convert To Smart Object’ option, which will bring up a small icon on the bottom right of the layer’s preview image.
This confirms the image has been converted into a Smart Object and can be edited non-destructively.
Next, we’ll perform some basic colour correction, using the new Camera Raw Filter. In general this works just like the pre-processing tool from previous versions of Photoshop – and which still appears when you bring in a Raw file – though it gains support for the latest cameras and SLRs.
Filter > Camera Raw Filter… and in the right-hand panel, click the Iris icon to bring up the Basics tab. Adjust the Exposure slider to fix any under- or over-exposure. You can also set the White Balance here to remove any unwanted colour cast.
My image had a pink hue, plus a very small amount of yellow from an artificial light in the studio. I’ve removed these.
Still in the Camera Raw Filter dialog, now’s a good time to open the Detail tab and apply any noise reduction necessary. This is particularly useful for anyone shooting in low light at a higher ISO.
Once you’re happy with the results, press OK.
Our next Smart Filter will involve some masking that we don’t want to affect our current changes, so we’re going to package our Smart Filters and the original image into a brand new Smart Object.
Select the ‘Original’ layer and repeat Step 2 of this tutorial. Your filters will seem to disappear from your Layers panel. Rename the visible layer to ‘Sharpen’ and your Layers panel should look like this.
Again, renaming your layers is really important, so don’t forget to do so.
Alternatively, for the last step, you can go to
Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen to enhance your image.
Here you can remove the effects of lens and motion blur with Photoshop’s new and vastly improved sharpening algorithm. Choose your preferred settings by repositioning the sliders and once done, press OK.
Repeat Step 2, renaming the layer ‘Liquify’. Go to
Filter > Liquify and make any necessary changes to your image. I was mostly happy with this photo, but I made a few minor adjustments to the neck and soften the ribcage a little.
Repeat Step 2 again, this time renaming the layer ‘Blemishes’. Create a new blank layer above it and rename it ‘Blemish Removal’.
Using the Healing Brush tool (
J) at 100%, change the Sample to ‘Current and Below’. Use the Alt key to select your sampling area and then start brushing over any blemishes or stray hairs.
Using the Dodge tool with its Range set to Midtones at 4% opacity, lift any shadows or blemishes on the skin, such as bags under the eyes or wrinkles.
Once you’re done, repeat Step 2 (for the last time) and rename the layer ‘Effects’. This is where we will now add any required stylisation to our images, as this is the element most likely to need changing in the future.
Here I’ve used the Camera Raw filter again to apply a Split Toning effect to change the overall tone of the image, bringing out the green in Billie’s costume and pulling back the reds for a more subtle look that still has a really nice contrast to it.
Finally, when you’re happy with your image, right-click on the layer to convert to a final Smart Image, which we’ll call ‘Finished Image’.
Just remember to save your progress.
If you’re working with Raw images, when you open your chosen image the Camera Raw dialog box will appear. To skip Steps 1 and 2 of this tutorial, hold down
Cmd/Ctrl + Shift to change the ‘Open Image’ button to ‘Open Object’, which will open your photo in Photoshop CC as an unlocked Smart Object.
Alternatively, if you’re an Adobe Lightroom user, you can also use the ‘Edit In Photoshop As A Smart Object’ option.
Image right: Betsy Rose at Murder Mile Studios. Copyright Tigz Rice Studios
If at any point you need to make changes to your retouching, you can access your root folders by double-clicking on the Smart Object layer itself, which will take you down one level.
The name of the Smart Object that appears will tell you what retouching was done within that Smart Object Group. Continue to double-click down through the root folder until you reach the layer you need to adjust.
Once you’ve made your changes, remember to click
Cmd/Ctrl + S to save your changes and allow them to filter back through the subsequent Smart Objects.
Image right: Tabitha Taboo at the Rivoli Ballroom. Copyright Tigz Rice Studios