Useful Tips to Touch Up Portraits Effectively

Touching up portraits can be tricky – but not for the reason that you think. While it is true that there is a learning curve involved, editors have made it easier than ever to perform alterations to portraits.

Instead the main challenge that you will face is using the tools available to you to touch up portraits in a way that brings out the beauty in them without making them appear fake or unnatural. That requires a lot more experience, but the following tips are a good place to start:

  • Compare the edited photo to the original
As you touch up any portrait, you should periodically compare it to the original. If you do, you should be able to spot any alterations that look unnatural early on.

When you first start out you should compare the edited portrait to the original frequently, but in time you’ll find that you’re able to more readily identify when you’ve made a mistake without having to compare it.

  • Improve the white balance
Generally it is best to start touching up any portrait by improving the white balance. That can be done quite easily, and most photo editors will have an automated tool that you can try if you want to.

For more control you should adjust the temperature of the portrait until you feel that it is properly balanced. It may help to adjust the exposure beforehand, especially if you feel your photo is too bright or too dark.

  • Accentuate the iris - carefully
One of the favourite ways to touch up portraits is to make the iris stand out – and for good reason. By adjusting the saturation and exposure of the iris you can make them look brighter and more vivid – though you should take care not to make them too vivid.

In some cases it may help to darken the edges of the iris to make it look more natural.

  • Remove some blemishes, wrinkles and spots – but not too many
Removing some blemishes, wrinkles and spots to make skin look better is great – but you should take care not to remove too many. Flaws are natural and in some cases may even be expected – and their absence can make portraits look fake.

For example if your portrait is of a 70 year old man and they have absolutely no wrinkles, spots, or blemishes – wouldn’t you think it was odd?
Photo by Jaku Arias on Unsplash

  • Sharpen certain features slightly to bring out details
Sharpening specific facial feature slightly can really help to make them stand out by revealing more detail. However the features that you choose to sharpen will vary depending on the subject.

Typically some of the more common options are the eyes, brows, lips, and some parts of the hair. Be careful that you only sharpen each a little bit however, otherwise they will not look very natural – especially when set against the rest of the portrait.

In most photo editors you’ll have a wide range of tools that you can use to edit portraits, and some may even have specific features to help you whiten teeth, remove red-eye, refine the hair, and more. For example if you use Movavi Photo Editor you could even apply various types of digital makeup as outlined at https://www.movavi.com/support/how-to/makeup-photo-editor.html

At the end of the day the tips listed above cover some of the most effective ways to edit photos, while at the same time making sure that they look natural. The more you edit portraits and get some experience under your belt, the more easily you’ll be able to gauge what types of alterations would be best for them.

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