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Jul 10, 2013

How To Stylize A Portrait Using Layer Blending Modes In Photoshop

How To Stylize A Portrait Using Layer Blending Modes In Photoshop

Sometime you get a great image from a shoot, but it just doesn’t have enough pizzaz straight out of the camera. It may look like the image below was taken with extremely punchy lighting, but a lot of the stylization was done in Photoshop using layer blending modes. By duplicating the image multiple times and using blending modes like Screen and Overlay, we’re able to alter different parts of the image separately using layer masks to make sure it looks the way we want it to.

The blend if function is very useful when styling an image in this manner – if we want a layer set to screen to only show up in the highlights on Ashley’s face, simply drag the sliders so it only shows up where the image is brighter.

Sharpening + Coloring Your Image

A great, quick and easy way to sharpen your photos is to combine the high pass filter on a greyscale duplicate of your image with layer blending modes. Using a small radius will strengthen the fine details, while using a large radius will act as a more gritty global dodge and burn.

To add color to the shadows, we can create a solid color fill and set the blend if sliders to only affect where the image is darkest. We can add even more color to the image by using a levels adjustment layer to pull up the blues in the shadows and yellows into the highlights. The only problem with this is that it changes her skin to a more greenish hue, which can be easily fixed by a curves layer with the reds pulled up and masked to only affect her face.

45 Comments


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    awerllow

    Said it before and I’m gonna say it again. When I grow up, I wanna be just like Aaron!

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    Ian Arneson

    I noticed that you used the healing brush before stylizing the image. Would you recommend doing that first when it comes to this specific workflow effect?

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    Anthony Urbina

    Awesome awesome free tutorial. Thanks Aaron aka Tony Shalhoub from the past!

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    Socratic1

    Boss mode. Holy cow. You knew we were hoping to learn this once we saw the Gobos video. It was really nice of you to do this for us. Thank you Aaron.

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    StevieKeen

    This tutorial is perfect timing for me! Working on a series where I wanted this effect but had no idea how to do it. Now finishing my first edit using this tutorial 😀

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        Socratic1

        I do! But I am not sure how to resolve that…playing with opacity on various layers does not seem to help…it just removes the effect without leaving the magic. Need some ideas. Sharpening is over done for sure, and I am also working on that now. But I don’t think that is the whole problem. Any suggestions folks?

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          Socratic1

          Watched the free Phlearn video on Dodging and Burning (it’s a GREAT tutorial)…gave me some ideas on how to proceed.

          One thing I noticed is that MORE sharpening actually seems to help the look. Also, the saturation and color toning is not right in my image. This might be a workflow issue.

          The image was retouched quite a bit before starting the stylizing. While clone stamp needs to come first, wondering if blending the tones (Aaron’s method of sampling and painting with a brush to smooth the color transitions) might be causing some of the artificial look. Maybe the blending needs to come later in the workflow…after the Blend If is completed.

          Having fun working through this. Is that geeky? Yeah, probably is.

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            Josh Shephard

            To tell the truth it seems like all the effects are being overdone. I don’t really know how your layers, and effects look. But you need to balance things in a different way.

            Also the quality of lighting/contrast really makes a difference with the ending result.

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            Socratic1

            Thanks very much for this feedback Josh. Just the kind of guidance I needed.

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    Kristopher Paterson

    Thanks very much Aaron. You have a fantastic website here. What a bounty of incredibly useful information. I have improved so much in only a week of doing some free and Pro tutorials, I can’t thank you enough. Although, I still have a long way to go.

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    Vinci Ropati

    Thanks for the tut! Here’s my pic making use of your techniques 🙂

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    Paul O'Reilly

    Stellar tutorial Aaron, one of your best and most informative, and that’s out of a collection that has many excellent and informative videos. It’s so nice of you to share all this information and technique with people, and you do it in such a pleasant and amusing way. Thank you.

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    John Grady

    Aaron I have been watching your videos for a couple of weeks and your techniques are starting to slowly sink in to my old dense brain. I have use some of the methods in this and other of your tutorials in my latest shoot and my client and everyone else are loving the images. Thank you so much!

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    Kristian

    this tutorial is really cool..that’s just awesome Aaron..I really love this one..and this is really helpful, and the result is really superb..lol..so, i just wanna said thanks a lot to PHLearn and Aaron who already explain this so understandable..thanks again..

    Here my result from your tutorial Aaron, and i add Exposure in last finishing touch, just to make it little soft a little bit..hehe..

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    Chris Cesany

    This was a really cool video with a ton of useful tips and tricks. Here a photo I edited using some of those tricks, please let me know what you think.