CoffeeShop Lightroom Portrait Tutorial: Clean Edit and Split Toning!


Today I am really excited to post a new Lightroom portrait tutorial where I walk you through a clean edit and split toning.  If you love editing and don't have Lightroom you should check out this program.  Lightroom allows you to do nondestructive editing on your images and it is so fast and easy to use once you learn some basic techniques.  If you have limited funds I would suggest purchasing Photoshop Elements and Lightroom.  You would be completely set!

If you are completely new to Lightroom you might want to read The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book or The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book to get the basics (and a huge overload of info that might make your head explode!).  Pretty Presets also has tutorials (and gorgeous presets) on her site.  Or you can just follow my tutorial below.  :-)

This tutorial is for beginners to advanced users of Lightroom.

CoffeeShop Lightroom Portrait Clean Edit and Color Toning Tutorial:



Sometimes you might have a beautiful image that has lighting issues and needs a basic clean edit.  I found this really nice image of a lovely young woman on Pixabay and I want to brighten it up and add some color.


1.  Basic Clean Edit:  In the Lightroom Develop Mode you should start on the top right of the editing pane and work  your way down.  On this edit I started on the "Basic" pane, under the histogram.

Remove Color Cast:  You can use the eyedropper tool and click on a neutral gray area to remove color casts, but that does not always work so you will have to manually adjust the Temp.  On this image I warmed her up a bit by adding some yellow (Temp, +3) and then removed some green tint (Tint, +15).  You will have to play with both of these settings on your own images.

Honestly, I was not too concerned about the color cast as I am going to be adding some "artistic" color tones to the final edit.  But it is still nice to make sure you are starting with an image properly white-balanced.

Adjust Exposure:  This image was too dark so I raised the Exposure setting to 1.20.  As you can see her skin looks pretty nice but her dress is completely blown out.  I will fix that in the next step.

You can also play around with the Contrast setting if needed.


Rescue the Whites:  Next you will want to adjust the Highlights and Shadows.  In this case I dialed down the Highlights to bring back the shadow detail in her dress and dialed up the Shadows a tad bit to darken the background.

I dialed down the White setting (to -78) to completely recover her dress and then added some Black to add a bit more contrast to the background.

Add Color:  I then dialed up the Vibrance to +20 to add a pop of color.  Vibrance doesn't affect the skin as much as Saturation so I usually prefer to use that setting on portraits.

After adjusting the exposure I noticed the image had a lot of noise.  Luckily Lightroom has a wonderful Noise Reduction feature.


Noise Reduction:  The beauty of Noise Reduction in portraits is that you can use it to soften skin.  The settings are below the "Detail" pane and are very easy to use.

I usually start with the Color setting and move it up until I don't see any weird noisy color, especially on the skin.  In this case I left the Color Detail at 50.  Then I moved the Luminance up to remove the noise and dialed up the Detail so that her eyes, hair, lips, etc. where not affected by the noise removal.    Finally, I added a bit of  Contrast.  Now her skin looks beautiful but there is not real loss of details.

These settings have to be adjusted for your own images, this is just an example of what I used on this very noisy image.


2.  Matte Effect:  I wanted to add a subtle "matte effect" so I opened the "Tone Curve" setting and made the adjustments you see in the screenshot above (if you don't see that same curve please read the note below).  I pulled out the lower left setting to add some matte contrast, moved up the center of the curve a bit to brighten up the midtones, and then moved the upper right down a bit to remove some lightness from the highlights.



NOTE:  If you don't see that Tone Curve on your program and see this one instead, just click on the little curve circled in red on this screenshot to change it.


2.  Split Toning:  I wanted to add some artistic color to this image, so I decided to use the "Split Toning" setting.  This is a really fun adjustment as you can add different colors to both the highlights and shadows of your image.

I wanted to add some almost yellow-ivory to her skin (highlights) so I set the Highlights Hue to 50, Saturation to 13.  I wanted to add a bluish tint to the shadows in the background, so I set the Shadow setting to a purplish (Hue 244, Saturation 37).  I adjusted the Balance to +20 for this edit so that the highlights were affected more than the shadows.

These settings are only an example.  It is so fun to play around with the Split Toning settings to see how it affects your image.  I went pretty subtle with this edit, but if you are split toning a landscape or still life you can really go color crazy!


4. Gradient Filter Finale:  Gradient Filters are a wonderful way to add a custom gradient to finish up your edit.  I wanted to brighten/soften up the model a bit more and have some "light" coming from the top of the image, so I clicked on the Gradient Filter (M) located just under the histogram on top (circled in red on my screenshot above) and set the Exposure to 0.2, Highlights to -14, Clarity to -10 (to soften), and the color to ivory.  Then I dragged the gradient from the top until the middle little dark circle was at the bottom of my image.  Then I clicked "Close".

Gradient Filters are really adjustable so you can add the gradient and then play around with the settings live to see what looks best before you close it off.  You can also reopen it later and tweak it.  :-)

This is an optional step, but gradient filters are amazing ways to soften skin and add directional light and contrast.



Here is my before and after.  I am really happy with the colors and contrast in this edit.  I hope this tutorial makes you feel more confident about editing in Lightroom so that you can completely customize this tutorial for your own images.

I love presets (I use Pretty Presets and my own), but there are times you just want to do a custom edit on a special image.  I hope this tutorial gives you confidence to go preset-free sometimes!!!

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures. 

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


♥ Read more!

CoffeeShop Holiday Storyboard 10 for Print or Web!


I had so much fun creating this new storyboard in a vintage gold damask with gold frames and trim.  I made this storyboard a simple png file with photo cutouts so it can be opened in most editing programs. Simply drag your images under the frames, resize them to fit, flatten and save.  This storyboard is large and can be printed or used on your website/blog.

For the after I used these beautiful images from Jill Wellington Photography.

I would love to see your creations using my storyboard posted on my Facebook page. I love seeing what you guys create.  :-)

I have some Lightroom freebies coming out next!

Download the CoffeeShop Holiday Storyboard 10.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures. 

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


♥ Read more!

CoffeeShop "Warm Cider" Photoshop/PSE Action!


Yesterday I was browsing at Pixabay for photos I can use in my tutorials here when I came upon this gorgeous image.  I clicked on the photographer's name to see what else she had uploaded and I was in awe.  So much in awe I wrote her a little message to let her know I loved her work and wanted to thank  her for allowing people to use her images for free.

Jill wrote me back and told me that she was Jill Wellington and had been following and commenting on my blog for years!!!  I immediately recognized her name and went to her website and blog (visit her sites for the beautiful images, great tutorials, and freebies!) and was even more amazed.  Her photography is up there with the best I have ever seen.  And best of all, she is going to let me use some of her images on my tutorials here.  Swoon!!!  I need pretty photos of girls and women and her website is a goldmine of gorgeous images.  I feel like it is an early Christmas for me.

Jill also told me that she found Pixabay through my blog and decided to give back by donating some of her work.  I adore her!!!

I so loved this lovely image of the little girl in red I had to write an action for it.  I call it "Warm Cider" and it adds a warm golden effect with an adjustable haze and matte effect.  It is perfect to warm up those winter images.


On this beautiful image from Jill I ran "Warm Cider" and added one of her free snowflake overlays.  This would be so pretty on a Christmas card.  Please go visit Jill's blog, she has so many photographer freebies and tutorials posted there to read and download.  I love her work!!!

Download the CoffeeShop "Warm Cider" Photoshop/PSE action! You can also download it here.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


♥ Read more!

Preview of New Action, Action Pack Updates, and This and That.



Here is a preview of my newest action I called "Warm Cider" which is coming out tomorrow.  I used a gorgeous image from Jill Wellington for this preview. This is a really pretty golden-matte effect for your Christmas/winter images and I hope you will like it!

I also organized the action set for  PSE11-PSE13 and Photoshop in my Action Download pack.  For those programs all my actions come in one set so you just have to load one thing, and I put all of the retouching actions on top, the clean edit/artistic actions in the middle, and the web/storyboard/frame actions on the bottom. This really makes it easy to find the exact action you need.  If you have purchased the Action Download within the last two years you can email me and I will send out my newest version to you.   The new "Warm Cider" action has already been added to the pack, I am just working on the post for my blog for tomorrow.

I have had some readers ask me if they should upgrade to PSE 13 (on sale still at Amazon).  I personally would do it if you have PSE10 or below.  PSE13 allows you to easily add actions like you do in Photoshop, and that really reduces your stress.  If you have a newer version of PSE I don't think it is necessary to upgrade at this time.

I have some new Lightroom freebies coming up this next week.  And another storyboard.  If there is something specific you would love for me to post up on my site, please let me know!

I have a special on blog/website designs this month and have a few openings right now if you are interested in a new custom site.

Don't forget to check out the daily specials at the Ashe Design's 12 Days of Christmas sale!  And Pretty Presets has some LR preset specials going on right now.


My boys are crazy-excited about Christmas.  We are going to have family in town and have a nice dinner over at our house Christmas Eve.  We aren't going to open any present until Christmas Day and on Christmas Eve we plan to enjoy food, family, carols, and celebrate the birthday baby.  :-)

The boys still haven't made their three rat stockings, so the poor little guys might get nothing this year.  At least Blackberry the dog has her own stocking.  She probably would like it stuffed with three little ratties Christmas morning but she will have to be satisfied with a doggy biscuit.  ;-)

Hope you are enjoying the weekend with your loved ones! I need to finish up the piles and piles of laundry sitting in my room and start lunch before the kids start telling me they are starving.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


♥ Read more!