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Martin Schoeller Inspired Portrait, Pt. 2

Feb 14

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Yesterday we took you through our process in coming up with the perfect lighting for a portrait of Chris, Phlearn’s CFO, and today we’ll be taking you through the steps we took in Photoshop to bring our final image together! You can view Pt. 1 of this two part tutorial HERE. Retouching male faces can be tricky because it’s while it’s still important to make your subject look good, too much retouching can look unnatural. However, this can be true for any portrait, and it is by no means a rule! In this portrait, we clear away blemishes using a simple and easy manner with the healing brush tool.

Maintain a Healthy Level of Saturation

One of the most important things to remember when making shadows darker is to keep your saturation at the right level. When darkening parts of your image, or “burning”, the saturation tends to decrease. This will leave behind a greyish color and looks like dirt on skin. To fix this, you can use a Hue & Saturation adjustment layer. Simply decrease the lightness while increasing the saturation to make up for the lost color. You can use a layer mask to only affect the parts of your image you want darker.

Finishing Touches

Drawing attention to your subject’s face is always key in a close up headshot such as this one. By painting white onto the center of Chris’s face and changing the layer blending style, we get an effect that compliments the darkened shadows and draws more attention to where we should be looking at. The  exact same technique can even be used to create stronger catchlights in the eyes.

Final Image

Chris Todd

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=754554855 Edd Carlile

    A wealth of information…thank you so much!

  • balint.alovits

    You are a genious for sure. Can we go trough some Annie Leibovitz images too in the near future?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mmanastireanu Marius Manastireanu

    i really liked the technique used to isolate the reds from the skin. thanks for sharing :)

  • Guest

    Amazing thing you share love it, but i dont get the feeling of Martin Scoheller portrait in 100% here. must be really hard to copy him :)

  • Guest

    Like always, amazing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/nico.belazaras Nicolás Belazaras

    Amazing as always!

  • http://twitter.com/BenRobinson_ Ben Robinson

    Awesome tutorial, I gave it a shot myself!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pablo-Rodriguez/884195789 Pablo Rodriguez

    This is one of your best episodes! I can’t believe everything I just learned in 14 min…

  • Kasper Hansen

    how about uploading the unprocesses image?

  • Tyler

    Great techniques here, especially for removing the reds and enhancing shadows! I’ll totally suscribe to the newsletter thanks to these great videos! Please keep them coming! Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/claude_laramee claude laramee

    I learn so much with Phlearn ! Honestly !

  • Brandi

    I kind of love that I learn something new with each video :)

  • Guest


  • Roman
  • Alfonso Bonvini

    I’d like to know where the first mile long comment went~?

    I hope is not been cenuserd~!

  • andrewbharris

    Hey thereI

    I ALSO tried this out.
    Made this ghetto, homemade defuser for the flash consisting of a cereal box, some thick pieces of foam and a t-shirt to create interesting catch lights in the eye.


  • http://www.facebook.com/nico.belazaras Nicolás Belazaras

    Very nice! What lights did you use? It seems almost like a drawing :P

  • Roman

    Two strip boxes directly in front and a small one right above camera.

  • Guest
  • http://www.facebook.com/erick.butron.9 Erick Butron
  • http://www.facebook.com/MaksImages Дарко Ивановић

    Its on a previous page (part 1).

  • http://www.facebook.com/RRhallPD Rob Hall

    I gave it a shot as well (although not using this tutorial). My method is explained here;


  • balaninu

    A tutorial in perfect timing with my new acquisition, a sigma 30mm 1.4.

    Thank you Phil your tutorials are very useful.

  • http://twitter.com/Sbrasky ED

Episode Transcript

Welcome to part two of our portrait shoot inspired by Martin Schoeller.

Hey guys, welcome to Phlearn. My name is Aaron Nace, you can find me at Twitter at aknacer. Today, we are editing an awesome image that we took inspired by great photographer, Martin Schoeller. In the last episode, we took you through the lighting that we did. We tried many different combinations of lighting. It looked horrible at the start, but in the end we found something that we really, really liked.

What we did is we're taking that image and now we're going to take it through post production. We're going to show you some really cool things with dodging and burning, enhancing some highlights, a little bit of retouching.

People have been asking us how we retouch guys and so we're going to cover that as well and we're going to be doing a tiny bit of color toning. A lot of cool things going on in this episode. Let's go ahead and get into it.

Here is our image. This is Chris and what we're going to be doing … let’s just go ahead and talk about retouching first. As far as retouching guys, and retouching in general, I really don't like doing things that are necessarily permanent or a part of a person always.

Little areas, things like pimples and spots and things like that on people's skin that are going to go away in a week, I'm totally okay retouching those out. That's not really a big of a deal because if I photograph him a week later, he may not even have that spot.

That's the sort of thing I like to take care of when I am retouching guys. To do that, usually the healing brush tool is the best way to do it. I would hit "J" for your healing brush tool and then you can basically create them. There's a spot healing brush tool by the way as well. I don't recommend that tool. It chooses a sample point for you and I think the healing brush tool is a little bit better. We'll go with the healing brush tool, and what I want to do is hold "alt" or option, click on the area skin we like and just simply paint over the area skin that we want to change.

We actually just made an episode on the healing brush tool versus the clone stamp tool, so if you guys want to check that out, you can do that as well a couple days ago.

We're just taking care of these spots, nothing like major here, it's just a little thing that are getting in the way. In general, with retouching guys, I think it's a little bit more appropriate that guys get a little bit less retouching than women. The reason is, I don't know. I think men who are overly retouched to the point of perfect skin and flawless features, to me it looks a little bit contrived. It just does. It looks like … it seems like the qualities that our Western society appreciates about men and women seem to be a little bit different. Retouching a man's portrait and a woman's portrait the same way seems like ignoring what our society deems as acceptable.

Men are seen more like masculine, manly, gruffy , you'll see a lot of portraits that have facial hair and things like that. I think leaving that sort of thing is a really nice touch and it adds to society's norm of what they expect to see in a portrait of a man. You can challenge the norms as well and make them flawless skin also. I don't do flawless skin with women usually anyway too. That's just my take on it. I tend to retouch guys a lot less, a lot less work on them that I do women. Totally up to you guys. We have gotten a lot of questions about that lately, so I figure I'd address it.

This is about as close to what I would do. The next thing I'm going to do is we're going to target some of the … that's just with the healing brush. You can see the before and after, just with the healing brush. You can still make a pretty cool difference.

The next thing we're going to do we're going to target some of the redness in Chris's skin and he's sitting right next to me. I hope this is not offending you, is it, Chris? No, okay, cool.

Everyone has redness in their skin. I've got it right now. That's just part of it, it's blood, especially during a photo shoot, it tends to come out a little bit more. You can see it around the eyes, here, nose, cheek areas and things like that, that's where it's going to come out.

What we're going to do is I'm going to go ahead and target that area and then bring the redness down a little bit. Very cool technique. We're going to grab an adjustment layer and I'm going to go down to hue slash saturation. We have our hue saturation [inaudible 00:04:13]. What I want to do, this is going to seem weird, but I'm going to crank … we're going to go over here to our red channel, we're going to grab our eyedropper and I'm going to click around where the redness is. Just click where you see a little bit area which you want to change.

I'm going to crank my saturation and my hue way up. This might look really weird and it totally does look weird. The reason I'm doing it is to call attention to those areas because now what we're going to do is we're going to, we're going to restrict the area that actually gets changed. You can see, not just the red near his eye has changed, but the red basically in his entire face.

To do that, what we're going to do is click over here, you'll see this slider over on the bottom, and this is basically your range of what is going to be affected by your hue saturation change. The area in the very middle, that's like your hard line, those are the definite areas that will get changed, and then out further edges, that is your feathering. You can see it's starting to change.

What I'm going to do is I'm going to grab that little gray area right in the middle and I can move this to the left or the right. You can see, right about there, that's really where our redness is. If I go over here, we're starting to get some of the yellows and things like that in his face. I'm doing this only so I can see the actual problem areas. It can be relatively hard to know, is this it or is that it? You can see this area is affecting his whole face, whereas this area is really just targeting those red areas.

I know it's a totally weird technique. We're not going to keep this green. What we're going to do is we're going to bring the saturation back down to zero and we're going to bring this hue back to something that is closer to his skin tone.

Here, this was a zero which was a little bit red. We’re going to bring it a little bit to the right which is going to add a little bit of yellow in there, and there we go. We selected those red areas by targeting them right down here with this slider, and then we brought our hue a little bit to the right, let's just bring that down just a little bit. Now, what we have is our red areas in our face are basically completely corrected.

It doesn't look weird, it just looks a little bit more even, a little bit more [inaudible 00:06:32] which is great. One thing you want to do is be sure to, let's grab our brush tool, I’m going to now paint a black layer mask over lips because lips are supposed to be a bit more red. You don't want to make those white. You can see what a difference that makes. It just brings them back to the quote, unquote correct skin tone.

We're already up to a really nice start. The next thing I'm going to do because it is … we're trying to get a specific look here, is I'm going to saturate our colors just a little bit. We'll go up to hue saturation and I'm going to just bring my saturation down just a tiny bit, nothing crazy. We're down like, let's go down to negative 10. Let's just bring a little bit of that color out of there. Very nice.

The next thing we're going to do, I'm going to show you guys how to do a dodging and burning technique that you've never seen before. I know this because I just came up with it just now because I think it'll be cool.

We're going to use hue saturation to dodge and burn. Today it'll be the hue saturation day, one up. What I'm going to do is, I'm going to bring my lightness down. As I bring my lightness down, what you see happens, and this is often something that people fall into the mistake of, it looks like gray is settling over your image. That's because the saturation often comes down with the lightness.

I'm going to try bringing the saturation up as well. Now, instead of it just looking like gray is over his face, it looks like the skin is just a little bit darker and the reason is that saturation. Saturation is really, really important when you're doing this technique.

The next thing I'm going to do is I'm going to hit command "I" on our layer mask, and with a nice, big, soft, round brush, I'm going to paint in some white on the areas in which I actually want to be affected. This I’m focusing for the most part around the edges of our subject here. This is the look of the portrait that we're going for. You don't have to do an incredibly great job at this because, I'll show you in a little while, I’m going to show you an even better technique of restricting this just to the shadows. There we go.

Now you can see it looks dirty, it's just looks like, "Oh, great. You put that gray stuff on his face, dirt, it looks horrible." I know that. The reason is we don't have enough saturation, so let's pump in a little bit more saturation. There we go, and you can see it starts to look like darker skin instead of dirt. Can you see that that dirt and not … is looking more like darker skin.

That's looking good, but there's one more thing we want to do and that's to restrict this to the shadows. We don't necessarily want this visible where the highlights are because it's really not going to look good. This is strictly for making shadows a little bit darker. To do that, it's really not that hard.

What you want to do is you'll double click here on your hue saturation layer, bringing up your layer style. You have this thing on the bottom of your layer style called "Blend It." This is like magic, it's perfect. All you have to do is hold down the Alt to the option key and grab this little slider. It's going to separate these two out and what this is going to do is it's going to make this layer not visible where the underlying layers are light.

It's basically going to say, if the underlying layer … if the portrait has a highlight, don't make this layer visible. We’re going to bring those two and I'm just going to take this from the right to the left, there we go. Just like that, you can see this layer has deleted, it's not deleted, it's just gone away completely from the highlights and it's only visible in the shadows.

What we're left with is we still have that nice burning effect. It still looks great, but instead of looking, let's just show you guys the "before" and "after" with that because it's really pretty awesome. Instead of looking like you just painted on it with a paintbrush in Photoshop, see that's the "before" I know it looks horrible, and that's the "after." It really does a  nice job of sticking to those highlights. Very cool, and a nice portrait effect as well.

We can do the same thing, sorry, sticking the shadows not the highlights. We're going to do the same thing with the highlights. I'd like to grab white with my paintbrush, and we're going to paint here, right in the middle of our portrait. That's where we want to draw a lot of attention to. Here we go. This white section here in the middle. Very nice.

We're going to basically do the same exact thing except we're going to limit this so it's not visible in the shadows.

Let's go ahead and double click on our layer which brings up layer style. I'm going to now hold the Alt to the option key and I’m going to go from the left to the right, instead of the right to the left.  Alt or option, and we're going to see, we're going to bring this guy up as well, and we're going to get there is … there we go. That white we just painted out is now only visible in the highlights. We're just going to change our opacity till we get that looks really good. There we go.

We can see how we it exaggerates that effect even more. What we're going to do because we are trying to imitate a particular style, is I also what these highlights that are here right in the eye, take a brush a little bit harder, there we go. I want our highlights to really, really shine. I'm going to paint over those highlights, just paint with a nice, big, round brush, right over there in the eye as well, there we go. I know that looks horrible again, but double click on here, tell this not to be visible when the underlying layer is darker, just where it's lighter and what we're going to wind up with is a really nice lighting effect that looks a little bit more natural. All right, very cool.

Let's apply a little bit of a blur to that. I think that people will tend to overdo things when we're working in Photoshop, so if you are effecting eyes, usually that's an area where you like to lower down the opacity just a little bit. Very cool.

We're looking really, really good. Let's just do a couple of really quick things. I'm going to add a little bit of blue into the shadows. That's going to contrast really nice with the color of the skin.

We're going to go to our blue channel. Here we are [inaudible 00:12:45] layer, I'm just going to add a little bit of blue to the shadows and let's go ahead and go to RGB and bring the brightness down. The blue might not be exactly right, so what we're going to do is, we're going to go ahead and paint on our layer mask away from our subject's face. I'm just get a regular brush and am painting just where my subject's face is. If the blue isn't the right blue, I think I'm going to add a little bit of green to it because it's just a little bit off right now. You can see it's affecting our background now.

What we're going to do, I think we're going to go to our green channel and just put a little bit of green in that as well. That's going to look just a little bit better.

Back to our layers. We can see … there we go, something that looks a little bit, just a bit more refined.

The last thing I really want to do is we're just going to add a note [inaudible 00:13:41] what's going on here. We're going to add a vignette to this image. I know we took it away in light room, but I liked it there, so we're going to add it back in Photoshop. In part one, we removed the vignette, but here, I am adding it back again

I don't know, I kind of like vignettes. I know they're technically wrong, but I think they can really help add some interest to photos. There's that, cool. Just a little bit of a vignette.

All right, guys. There you can see our Martin Schoeller-inspired portrait. Let's go ahead and shift click all those layers that we changed, there's the "before" and there's the "after." Really didn't take a lot of time and we've got something that really does look quite a bit better.

I'm very happy with it and I hope you guys too. I hope you learned a lot. This is a big episode, guys. Thank you so much for watching, bring you more awesomeness to you daily on Phlearn.com.

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Random Tips

You can change the size and hardness of any brushes by holding ctrl+option on mac and move the mouse with left click in Photoshop. On windows it’s option+right click.