CoffeeShop Perfect Portrait 2 Action - FINALLY!

To celebrate my new domain name (CoffeeShop's new address is  but the old one will still work) and to also show how much I appreciate you, my reader, I want to present my new updated Perfect Portrait  PS/PSE action (you can find the old version here, the download link for this new updated version is at the bottom of this post).

This is as close as you can get to a one-stop portrait action.  UPDATE:  I have many more retouching actions you should check out. You can find them all listed on this page (go down to retouching actions) or check out Perfect Portrait 3 and Perfect Portrait 3 Express.
Not only can you completely retouch a portrait (skin, eyes, teeth) you can also pop color and contrast, sharpen, add a gritty effect, vignette, or even convert to a B&W image.  As long as your white balance is adjusted and you have corrected major skin flaws, you shouldn't have to do anything else to your SOOC (straight-out-of-the-camera) images before running this action.

CoffeeShop Perfect Portrait 2 Action Instructions:

Run this action on an image that already has the white balance corrected and major skin flaws removed (red spots, deep wrinkles, and if you have boys-dirt).  When you start the action the Levels adjustment layer pane will pop up as seen below.  This is where you can adjust the initial contrast/color.

I usually try to move my shadow (left) and highlight (right) sliders under the curve as seen below.  You can see it really brightens up this dark image.  If you want to brighten your skin more, move the middle (gamma) slide to the left.  This is an easy trick to get bright pretty skin.

You can also remove color casts by clicking on the pull-down Channel menu (RGB). Select Red if you have a reddish cast and play with the slides to remove it.  You can do the same with the Green and Blue.  If you have adjusted your white balance before running this action this shouldn't be necessary.

After you finish with the Levels adjustment, click OK and the action will run.  You will have 16 layers when the action is finished.  NOTE:  You won't notice any major changes other than a contrast boost until you start turning on layers and painting on layer masks.  This action does not magically smooth skin, "pop" eyes, and whiten teeth before your eyes! 

However, in just a few minutes you can quickly retouch and enhance your portrait using the layer masks.  If you haven't used the original Perfect Portait or any of my retouching actions with layer masks you won't understand how to use this action UNTIL you read the instructions below.  And if you haven't used layer masks before please read my detailed tutorial here.

Important Notes

1.  First and foremost, make sure your brush is set to Normal mode on the top menubar.  Click on your brush (B) and go to the top menubar and set the Mode to Normal.  If it is not in set in Normal, you won't notice anything happening when you paint on the layer masks!  This is the biggest error people run into using these types of actions.  If your action suddenly "stops working" and painting on the layer masks doesn't change anything, your brush mode is not set to Normal. 

2.  Make sure to click to select the layer masks first, then "paint" on the image to add/remove enhancements.  Your layer mask MUST be selected or you won't see changes.  Some layers don't have layer masks (like Dodge/Burn and Bright Eyes), so just click on that layer when you want to work on it.

3.  A black layer mask hides the enhancement on that layer.  If you use a white brush on a black mask, you "reveal" the layer's enhancement. A white layer mask on a layer hides nothing.  If you want to remove an effect on a layer that has a white mask, paint on that mask with a black brush.

4.  Use a soft brush when painting on masks to keep your enhancements subtle.  Try different brush opacities and/or lower the layer opacity. If your brush is set at 25% opacity, as long as you hold down the left mouse button while painting you can't paint a higher opacity than that, even if you go over the same area a million times.  However, if you release the button and repaint over the area, you will add another 25% "paint".

5.  Turn on a layer by clicking on the little box on the left of that layer.  If you see a little eye that layer is turned on.  You also can adjust the opacity of each layer.  If the enhancement is too much, lower the opacity.  If you want to remove part of the effect (like brightness on skin), use the layer mask to remove some of the layer's effect.

Now, on to the action.

1.  Smooth Skin:  This layer is for smoothing skin or even removing noise.  Click to select the black layer mask.  Click B to get your brush and make sure it is in normal mode and white.  Then adjust the brush opacity to taste and gently paint over the skin, avoiding the eyebrows, lips, tip of the nose, and eyes.  You can use the brush on 100% opacity and then lower the opacity after you are finished or adjust your brush opacity on the fly.  Just make sure to not over-soften the skin so that it looks plastic.

You can also use this layer to paint over a noisy background.  Use a low opacity white brush.

If you soften something you don't want to (such as the eyes), simply change to a black brush (X) and paint over the area to remove the effect.

2.  Remove Red from Skin:  Click to select the black layer mask and paint on reddish skin with a soft low opacity white brush. Adjust layer opacity to taste.  (NOTE:  In PSE layer 2 and layer 3 are reversed for some reason!)

3.  Vivid Color:  If you want to make colors pop in selective areas, click on the black layer mask and paint over the image with a white low opacity soft brush.  Don't paint over the entire image, only areas you want more vivid.

4. Sharpen:  Turn on this layer if you want to sharpen your images.  Adjust opacity to taste and use a black brush on the layer mask to remove areas you don't want sharpened.

5.  Brighten:  Turn layer off or on, adjust opacity to taste, click on the little adjustment layer to adjust up or down, and use a black soft brush on the white layer mask to remove selective areas of brightness (such as on the skin).

6.  Contrast Pop:  Turn layer off or on, adjust opacity to taste, use a black soft brush on the white layer mask to remove selective areas of brightness (such as on the skin).

7.  Urban Grit:  Add a slightly gritty contrast pop on areas of your image by clicking on the black layer mask and painting on your image with a soft white brush.  Adjust opacity of the brush and layer to taste.  I like using this selectively on hair.  Don't use this on skin, it can be scary!  In fact, if you use this all over an image at 100% opacity your image will have a slight HDR effect. 

8.  White Teeth:  Zoom in the teeth.  Click to select the black layer mask and then paint over yellowish teeth with a soft white brush.  Adjust the opacity of the layer to taste.  Make sure you don't over-whiten!

9.  White Whites:  Zoom in the eyes.  Click to select the black layer mask and paint over reddish whites of the eyes with a soft low opacity white brush.  Adjust layer opacity to taste.  Don't over-whiten!

10.  Eye Define:  Zoom in the eyes.  Click to select the black layer mask and then paint over the eyes and eyelashes with a soft white brush. Adjust the opacity of the layer to taste.

11.  Bright Eyes:  Zoom in the eyes.  Paint over the iris with a soft white brush to brighten the eyes, then adjust the opacity of the layer to taste.  Don't over-brighten!

12.  Soft Glow:   If you want to add a soft glow to the skin, click on the black layer mask and paint over the skin with a low opacity soft white brush and then adjust the layer opacity to taste.

13.  Dodge/Burn:  If you want to darken areas of your image (to vignette or burn), paint over areas of the image with a black soft low opacity brush.  If you want to lighten areas of your image (to dodge), paint over areas of the image with a white soft low opacity brush.  You can do both on this layer. If you mess up, just click on that layer and fill with 50% gray and start over.  I love to dodge (lighten) the hair sometimes by streaking it a bit with a low opacity white brush.

14.   Vignette:  Turn on this layer if you want a vignette around the edges.  You can use Overlay, Soft Light, or Multiply blending modes and adjust the opacity to taste.

15.  B&W Conversion:  If you want to turn your image B&W, simply turn on this layer.  You might want to go and adjust the Brightness and Contrast Pop layers to fine-tune the B&W effect.  You probably won't have to adjust any other layers. I do sometimes turn up the Bright Eyes layer in B&W conversions to really  make the eyes "pop".

There you go!  You don't have to edit in the order above.  And most importantly, don't go overboard and make your portrait look like a crazy plastic space alien with super smooth skin and glow-in-the-dark eyes.  Moderation is the key in editing a great portrait.  My sample above is overdone to my taste, but I wanted to make sure you could see the before/after.  ;-)

One neat trick to quickly see your before/after (the before after running the levels adjustment layer of course), is to click on the little eyeball by your background layer while holding down the Alt key.  All of the other layers will turn off.  To turn them back on simply click once again on the eye icon on the background layer.  Here is my before/after.  This edit took perhaps 1-2 minutes.  And I had to leave the dirt... 

Download the completely free Perfect Portrait 2 PS/PSE Action at MediaFire

If you have problems using this action make sure to print out and go over the instructions a few times.  It might be confusing at first if you are new to layer masks, but after a few times you will become a pro!  And make sure your brush is in NORMAL mode! 

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop Actions 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.


EBPitcher October 10, 2010 at 10:44 PM  

Thanks, Rita! Can't wait to play!

amy! October 10, 2010 at 10:57 PM  

when I thought you couldn't get any better!
u so rock!!! thanks a million for sharing with us.

MouserMo October 10, 2010 at 11:11 PM  

Thank you for your freebies. Link on your post was added to PickleMouse freebie list

Sherri D October 10, 2010 at 11:15 PM  

thank you for sharing your amazing talents! can't wait to play around with this!

Angela October 11, 2010 at 12:10 AM  

Thank you so much!! I can't wait to use it!!

jillconyers October 11, 2010 at 3:26 AM  

Thank you Rita!

Debra Heschl's Photography October 11, 2010 at 7:17 AM  

Thank you so much...this is great!!!

Julie E. October 11, 2010 at 7:23 AM  

Thanks for sharing!!!

MLA24 October 11, 2010 at 8:29 AM  

Thanks are awesome! Love the tutorial!

hootnonny October 11, 2010 at 9:32 AM  

Rita, This looks awesome!
Thanks for sharing!!!

Anonymous October 11, 2010 at 9:53 AM  

Words cannot express how thankful I am to you for sharing this action. The fact you give these away for free is incredible!!! You're awesome! And your tutorial for this action is wonderful! Thank you thank you!

Magnolia October 11, 2010 at 10:38 AM  

Thank you so much for sharing.

Mónica October 11, 2010 at 10:58 AM  

Hi Rita. Thank you for sharing this with us... the perfect portrait action is my favorite action ever, i use it all the time!
I'll try the new version, i noticed the new layers and they seem very helpfull.
Thank you so much!

Tiki October 11, 2010 at 10:59 AM  

Thank you so much Rita - looks great!

Anonymous October 11, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

I just wanted to thank you for sharing your time and talent. It is so generous of you. Thanks a bunch.

Anonymous October 11, 2010 at 2:20 PM  

Loved the first version but this one is just so beyond anything (and I mean anything) out there!! Thank you so much!!

Elaine October 11, 2010 at 2:46 PM  

Thank you so much for sharing this and for all of your detailed instructions - very much appreciated!

Monique October 11, 2010 at 3:25 PM  

Absolutely amazing! Love this new action so much. I just used it on my son's 3rd b-day photos. Thank You!

Frances October 11, 2010 at 4:01 PM  

Thank you Rita! Can't wait to try it out!

I consider you my Action Angel!!!!

DebC October 11, 2010 at 4:25 PM  

I use your first Perfect Portrait Action quite often and add some of my own modifications. It looks like this one is perfect and I won't be adding anything.

Joanie October 11, 2010 at 4:35 PM  

Rita... you've done it again! This is a wonderful action. I just did a shoot of my daughter and her family with the fall colors. I am giving this action a work-out. I left you a little something via PayPal.

Miss Tish October 11, 2010 at 4:40 PM  

I just found this blog and I SOOOOO could have used this action yesterday!! I offered to touch up some pictures for a friend - and she hands me a thumb drive with 90 pics!! YIKES! I only did 30...but seriously, this would have made the job just fly by! I look forward to checking out all of your blog!!!

Anonymous October 11, 2010 at 4:41 PM  

Thanks so much for this great action, can't wait to try it out.
Jenna in Canada

Jan October 11, 2010 at 7:13 PM  

Got your new action this morning and I was late for work, of course! Love it! I spent all weekend determined to learn how to maximize actions. I took Amanda Padgett's wonderful Actions class, and with the help of her class and tutorials and your great tutorials, I think I've put it all together. This action looks great and I've played around with it some. I hope you know you are personally responsible for getting me hooked on editing! Thanks a bunch!

Debbie October 11, 2010 at 7:22 PM  

Thanks Rita....this looks fabulous! I have a few photos I can try this out on, perfect timing!! :)

Marla October 11, 2010 at 9:13 PM  

You = Awesome!

I adore Coffeeshop Perfect Portrait, so I can't even imagine a better version. I can't wait to play!

Thank you so much Rita!


Rita October 11, 2010 at 9:45 PM  

I ♥ you guys!

Tara October 12, 2010 at 12:31 AM  

Rita, thank you again for being such a generous and amazing teacher! I am so thankful for all that you share with us and always tell my buddies to check your site rock! (now off to give myself the Rita!)

Nancy October 12, 2010 at 1:49 AM  

Just tried out the new action and it is FANTASTIC!!!!! I loved everything about it! The b&w layer didn't seem to work so not sure if I did something wrong . . .
My photo looks great though! Thanks a million!

Lorelei October 12, 2010 at 9:14 AM  

Thanks, Rita! This is genius! Just used it for the first time. Love being able to enhance my portrait all in one place! (donation coming)

Barbara_B October 12, 2010 at 11:36 AM  

Perfect timing! I used this on my kids' school portraits and they turned out amazing!! Love it, and the tutorial was perfect. Thanks so much

Sarah@Neoteric.Traditional October 12, 2010 at 12:36 PM  

Wow, I just found you randomly the other day, and didn't really get to look around - but I'm getting the feeling this is a wonderful place.


Franny's Photography October 12, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

THANK YOU FOR THIS! I almost spent $$ buying a plug-in when you posted this:) I am a busy SAHM mom who has started her own photography business, has one son and another on the way! This saved me soooo much precious time in post!!

Ashley October 12, 2010 at 6:21 PM  

Holy photo clicks..this is amazing..thank you so much. I am having a fall special with several people lined up when I'll be 37 weeks have no idea how much you just made my day saving editing time!!!!!

Anita Bower October 13, 2010 at 8:13 AM  


Cord October 13, 2010 at 11:37 AM  

Hi Rita, thanks for this awesome new action. I love many of your actions and feel I can't live without some of them :) You are just so generous and it is so appreciated..

crsmith October 13, 2010 at 10:06 PM  

a fabulous action set!!! thanks so much for your hard work & talent!!

Melissa October 15, 2010 at 8:32 PM  

The black and white conversion on this action is pretty freakin perfect. I often don't have time while processing to get the perfect conversion- and this is it!! Thank you so much, Rita. You are fabulous :)

Birdie3008 October 16, 2010 at 7:13 PM  

Thank you! All your actions are amazing. :)

K October 16, 2010 at 11:11 PM  


You are the reason that my photos have gone from 'fine' to 'FANTASTIC'. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! ;o)

seeking him... October 17, 2010 at 2:15 PM  

Thank you! Thank you! I love your orginal Perfect portrait & I can't wait to use this new one! Your actions make my pictures awesome!

Andrea Peavy October 19, 2010 at 1:15 PM  

Rita I'm so excited!! This action works like a dream!!! Wonderful!

Anita October 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM  

WOW!!! Just what I needed...thank you!

Kristin October 27, 2010 at 1:59 AM  

Just barely had a chance to use this for the first time. Oh, I am in love. THANK YOU!

Alison Douglass Photography October 27, 2010 at 8:48 PM  

Love the original, can't wait to play with this one! Thank you so much!!!!

lizzied October 30, 2010 at 4:12 PM  

This is just a miracle - I have been loving your blog for months and doing some of the tutorials (earlier with gimp and recently with trials of pse and yesterday my son in law helped me with the first download after I bought pse and I have been at it ever since!!!!! You have made my day! thank you for your amazing generosity!

Jennifer November 10, 2010 at 2:11 AM  

Thank you so much. You really don't know how much you've helped me. I will be sure to pay it forward and do nice things for others. You are awesome!!!!

Cotton Candy Photography November 28, 2010 at 4:57 AM  

wow!! this is the best action I have ever come across, thank you so much!

Olga December 10, 2010 at 2:34 PM  

This is awesome! Thank you so much!

Anonymous December 23, 2010 at 11:54 AM  

I downloaded this action and I am having trouble with the skin smoothing. I have the paintbrush set on normal and white but when I try to paint on the skin it is actually painting the skin white. Can someone tell me what I'm doing wrong?

Brandi January 22, 2011 at 1:06 PM  

Thank you so much - I can't wait to learn how to use this!

Sherry January 22, 2011 at 4:49 PM  

This is AWESOME! Thank you so much for sharing it, let alone for free! Have a great day!

Cheri February 1, 2011 at 11:15 PM  

Unbelievably cool!! Thank you so much for sharing. Can't even begin to tell you how much fun I'm having learning/playing with this!!

Beth @ SpiffySnaps Photography February 25, 2011 at 4:50 AM  

This is so awesome! Although the first one is fantastic, I like this one better :) Thanks so much for sharing!

Kera Cervoni February 27, 2011 at 3:46 PM  

I just love Perfect Portrait 2. Thank you so much!

LBell March 14, 2011 at 10:22 AM  

I am just a little confused, How do you know if you are using a whiye or bak brush? I am new at this!

Distressing Delilah a.k.a. jenn March 29, 2011 at 4:24 AM  

Nice..Thank you!

phat bottom girl April 4, 2011 at 11:59 PM  

I'm just getting acquainted with pse. I'm having so much fun with your actions. Can't wait to try this one!

Keila R. April 6, 2011 at 11:27 PM  

Thank you so much for your freebies, they are so helpful!

Melissa Whittaker February 13, 2012 at 3:31 PM  

I love this action! I just tried it out on a photo of my son, and I did a blog post about it linking to you. If you want to check it out, here's the link

Thank you so much for sharing all your actions!

Leanne February 20, 2014 at 4:03 PM  

My computer crashed and I lost this - my favorite portrait action - and the download link isn't working anymore. Help?

Rita February 20, 2014 at 5:37 PM  

It works, it is just a direct download and you probably don't know where it is downloading. Do a search on your computer, it will be there!

Anonymous August 30, 2014 at 3:06 AM  

Thanks!! :)