Sunday, July 26, 2015

CoffeeShop "Adjust the Light" Photoshop/PSE Action!

Happy Sunday everyone!  Today I have a brand new action called "Adjust the Light" that I think you will find very useful.  This should be run on an image that has already had some basic editing yet would benefit from some subtle to dramatic lighting adjustments.  You can use the dodge/burn brush on your image, but this action allows you to adjust the light nondestructively to really add drama to your image.

Jill Wellington (Etsy ShopFacebook, Blog, YouTube Videos, Pixabay) actually is the one that encouraged me to write this new action. I love getting great ideas!!!

This action also have a bonus "Define" and "Magic Light" layer.  The Define layer lets you selectively sharpen and the Magic Light layer allows you to add light only to the highlights without affecting the shadows. I paint this layer on skin.

CoffeeShop "Adjust the Light" Photoshop/PSE Action Tutorial:

I started with this image of Imp and Des (my nephew) enjoying our backyard pool.  It is actually the dog's pool but they kicked him out. I found the background a bit distracting and wanted to really make the boys the center of focus.

Run the action. Your image will look unchanged until you start painting on the layer masks (layer mask tutorial). You can also adjust the opacity of each layer to taste.

Add Light layer:  This layer lightens your image. Just paint on the layer mask with a white soft low opacity brush. I also use this layer to paint over the iris to make them "pop" and also to add some highlights to hair.

Darken layer:  This layer darkens your image.  Just paint on the layer mask with a white soft low opacity brush. You can also use this to add a natural vignette to your image.

Magic Light layer:  Turn this layer on and adjust the opacity to just add light to the highlights without affecting the shadows.  I love adding this layer to portraits to add brightness to skin without affecting lips, eyes, and hair.

Define: This layer adds definition to your image. I use a soft white brush and paint it on eyes, hair, and in this image the water spray. Make sure you click on its layer mask before painting on it!

I turned on the Magic Light layer and adjusted the opacity to around 20 to brighten their skin. This one has an auto-mask so you don't have to worry about  having an unintended glow around your person.

I burned (darkened) the background by painting on the Darken layer with a white brush.  I clicked (shift/alt,option) on the layer mask so I could see red where I wanted to mask (remove) this layer's effect. You can see in the screenshot above that I don't want to darken the boys, just the background.  Click that keystroke again to remove the red.

I clicked on the Define layer mask and zoomed in and painted on their eyes, hair, mouth, and on the water.

Finally, I wanted to add some light on the center of the image to really direct your eyes onto the boys. I selected the Add Light layer and grabbed a soft white brush with low opacity and clicked on the middle of the image.  Then I changed the brush to black (x) and removed that layer's lightness from their skin (see top layer mask on screenshot above).

I think this image really "pops" now with the dramatic lighting.

If you love the very popular low-contrast "Matte Effect" as much as I do, take this edit one step further by adding a Level's adjustment layer on top. Then bring the left shadow slider and the lower left Output Levels slider both to the right (see screenshot above).  Adjust until you are satisfied with the edit.

I love this matte version!

I hope you find this action set useful and I would love to see your own edits using these actions on my Facebook page.

Download the CoffeeShop "Adjust the Light" Photoshop/PSE Action Set. 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.

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  1. Hi Rita! I love your actions and your tutorials are fantastic! I have an issue with revealing the masked area of a layer mask. I'm using PSE13 and when I shift/alt click the layer mask on my Mac, the entire photo goes black - except for the masked area which shows the underlying photo... Do you know if this is a preference somewhere or is this just a feature of PSE13?

    1. It should work in PSE13, I know it works in PSE12 and below. Are you sure you are clicking the right things?

    2. I think so... the shift key with the alt/option key and I click on the layer mask...

  2. Hi Rita, Just wanted to thank you AGAIN for the wonderful action. Believe it or not, this action set is terrific for my beaded jewelry photos which always tend to be a bit gray. (not sure why but they do) Your editing action is much quicker than what I typically do and also gives me the option to improve the definition. Wonderful!