Friday, August 1, 2014

CoffeeShop "Add Light" Photoshop/PSE Tutorial

I also wanted to thank all of you for visiting this blog and sharing my posts with your friends and on places like Facebook and Pinterest. You, my amazing and generous readers, are what keep this blog up and running.  Because of you I can stay at home and submerse myself in my editing/photography addiction.   I  really get incredibly excited to create new things to share with you.  My family and I heart you!!!

You might have noticed that lately I have been posting quite a few editing tutorials for Photoshop/PSE. I love writing and using actions but I also love to teach people how to edit, so I decided to start putting up more editing tutorials.  Today I am going to show you another way I add light to a portrait.  I used an image from Pixabay for this tutorial.

CoffeeShop "Add Light" Photoshop/PSE Tutorial:

Open your image.

1.  Add Color Contrast Layer:  Add a Color Fill layer set at #e2c8b1.  

Put the Color Fill layer in soft light mode, and then duplicate that layer (Ctrl-J).  Adjust the opacities to taste (mine are both set to 100% on this edit).

2.  Sharpen:  I always like to sharpen eyes/hair so I Ctrl-J copied the background layer and applied a high pass filter on it with a radius of 10.

Then I put this layer in Overlay blending mode and added a black layer mask (hold alt when clicking on the layer mask button).  Then I used a soft white brush and painted over her eyes and hair.

3.  I also like to smooth skin a bit, so I added a new blank layer set to Normal blending mode above the Sharpen layer and under the Color Fill layers.  I clicked the eyedropper tool on area of clear skin on her face with the background layer selected (make sure "current layer" is selected for the eyedropper tool), clicked to select the new blank layer, and used a soft low opacity brush to quickly paint over her skin.

I added a black layer mask to that layer and then used a soft white brush to carefully brush back the smoothness where needed, avoiding eyes, hair, lips, and the nose.

4.  Add Sunlight:   Make a new layer on top and select a soft brush in the color #fffcd9.

Use a soft large brush and click to paint over areas where you expect to see sunlight streaming (through trees, clouds, and buildings).

Run a Radial Blur set to Zoom and Amount 100 to soften the light.

Now it looks much more natural.

Finally, I add a layer mask to this light layer and paint over her face and body with a low opacity black brush.  I go over areas a few times I want to darken (such as the iris and hair).

I hope you enjoy this new tutorial! I would love to see your "before and afters" posted on my Facebook page.  Any questions, please leave a comment!

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.


  1. Beautiful!! Could there be an action follow up for this?

  2. Rita, that is a BEAUTIFUL action! I love it so much and I haven't even had a chance to play with it yet. Thank you for sharing your talents with the world!

  3. Beautiful!!!! Possibly an action for this? Love it. Debbie
    You do nice work.

  4. Thanks for the great tutorial, Rita! You're the BEST!

  5. Thank you dborato, Toni, and Jill!!! I loved writing about this edit. I will see what I can do to make an action version.

  6. Sorry if this is a stupid question, but when you say to use a "soft brush," which brush do you use? When I went through this any brush I use just looks like a big blob of yellow on the photo rather than the gentle sunlight on yours. Thanks!