You Can Master RAW (Part 4)

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Use the powerful Adjustment Brush to give your portrait a pro makeover

Enhancing portraits is all about making selective adjustments to certain areas of the face. It can be helpful to think of the face as a series of zones, each requiring a particular edit. You’ll lighten the eyes, soften the skin, boost the lips and sharpen the lashes. You might think the best place to make these changes is in Photoshop, but ACR also has a few powerful retouching tools. In fact, using ACR, it’s possible to perform a complete retouching workflow without even entering the main Photoshop interface. What’s more, by making tweaks in ACR rather than in Photoshop, you’ll ensure the best possible quality. And because ACR is so neatly organized, easy to navigate, and totally non-destructive, you may find it’s the ideal choice for enhancing your portraits.

Use the powerful Adjustment Brush to give your portrait a pro makeover

Use the powerful Adjustment Brush to give your portrait a pro makeover

Sharpen the lashes

Sharpen the lashes

Paint over the lashes with the Adjustment Brush, then use the sliders to sharpen and add Clarity.

Lighten the whites

Sharpen the lashes

Carefully paint the whites of the eyes, then increase Exposure and Highlights to lighten the whites.

Soften the skin

Soften the skin

Drag the Clarity slider down to soften the skin, and increase Exposure slightly to lift the tones.

Boost the clothes

Boost the clothes

Use the temperature and Saturation sliders to warm the hues in the jumper. Increase Clarity and Highlights.

Add make-up

Add make-up

Paint a mask over the cheeks, then introduce red with the Color Picker. Add blue to the eyes in the same way.

Enhance the irises

Enhance the irises

Boost the colour, contrast and detail in the irises, but keep the circular edges dark.

Improve the lips

Improve the lips

Boost the colour in the lips. Paint a precise mask to cover them, then increase Saturation and Clarity.

 “You can edit a mask’s settings at any time”

How to paint a mask

Most retouching work in ACR is done with the powerful Adjustment Brush. It allows you to paint a mask over an area, and then apply changes to it, so it’s ideal for retouching a face. We’ve used it here to soften the skin, boost the eyes, enhance the lips and skin, boost the eyes, enhance the lips and even add digital blusher. The Adjustment Brush works by setting pins, each of which represent a mask. To set a pin, click over the part of the image you want to change, then paint over the rest of the area. It can be helpful to check Show Mask while you’re painting, so you can see where the mask is operating. It also helps to set an obvious mask colour – such as the garish green we’ve used here – by clicking the colour picker next to the Show Mask check box.

When painting, use the ] and [ keys to resize your brush tip (hold down Shift and ) or [ to change the hardness]. To erase parts of the mask, hold down Alt and paint. You can use the resizing shortcuts for the Eraser, too. When you’re happy with your painted mask, uncheck Show Mask, then make your adjustments using the sliders on the right. To add more pins, check New at the top right. The tool remembers the last-used settings, so be careful to reset the sliders each time you want to make a different adjustment. You can edit any mask’s shape or settings at any time by clicking the related pin.

RAW Smart objects

Get to grips with image blending using one RAW file and Smart Objects

RAW file processed through ACR can be opened into Photoshop as Smart Objects. This means that you have the option to bring the image from Photoshop back into ACR at any time, simply by double-clicking the Smart Object thumbnail in the Layers Panel.

Get to grips with image blending using one Raw file and Smart Objects

Get to grips with image blending using one RAW file and Smart Objects

There are several advantages to working this way. First and foremost, it means you can change your mind about any edits made in ACR, such as a crop or sharpening settings. But it also opens up more creative possibilities. By duplicating the Smart Object layer, you can combine different treatments made in ACR using Blend Modes. Don’t worry if this sounds complicated, in practice it’s very easy. Within minutes you can transform a flat scene into a punchy, detailed landscape. Here’s how it’s done.

1.    Open start image

Open start image

Open ‘coast_before.DNG’ from our project files into ACR then set Temperature to 5000, Tint -7, Vibrance +50.

2.    Remove Chromatic Aberration

Remove Chromatic Aberration

Go to the Lens Correction option in the menu and then check ‘Remove Chromatic Aberration’.

3.    Graduated Filter

Graduated Filter

Click on Graduated Filter tool. Hold Shift then drag a line from sky to land. Set Exposure to -1.35. Hold Shift and click ‘Open Object’.

4.    New Smart Object

New Smart Object


In the Layers Panel, right-click the layer and choose New Smart Object via copy. Double-click copy’s thumbnail to go back to ACR.

5.    Tonal tweaks

Tonal tweaks

Set Exposure -0.40, Contrast +60, Highlights -100, Shadows +80, Whites -50, Clarity +100, Saturation -100.

6.    Make tone Curve Panel adjustments

Make tone Curve Panel adjustments

Go to the Tone Curve Panel. Under Parametric, set Highlights +10, Lights +25, Darks -25. Click OK.

7.    Luminosity Blend Mode

Luminosity Blend Mode

In the Layers Panel, click on the Blend Mode drop-down and then choose Luminosity.

8.    Removing edge halos

Removing edge halos

To fix unwanted halos, press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to merge a copy of the layers, then grab the Burn tool. Set Range: Highlights, Exposure 10%, and Brush carefully over the edge halos.

Five creative RAW effects

Learn how to add a variety of cool creative effects using nothing more than the tools in Adobe Camera RAW

1.    Black and white

Black and white

ACR is a great place to make your mono conversions. It’s just like using a Black and White Adjustment Layer in Photoshop.

Go to the HSL/Grayscale panel and check Convert to Grayscale box. Use the colour sliders to tweak the tones and the Adjustment Brush to simulate the Dodge and Burn tools.

2.    Solarised


The inverted tones and haunting hues of a solarised image were popularized be the surrealist photographer Man Ray in the 1920’s after a fortuitous darkroom mistake.

Go to the Tone Curve Panel and skew the curve into an upside down U shape. It’s worth experimenting with the curve. Push and pull it to extremes and see what happens.

3.    Cross process

Cross process

This popular technique references a chemical process from the traditional darkroom with characteristically skewed colours, saturation and contrast.

To replicate this in ACR, go to the Tone Curve Panel and select the Point Curve window. Here you can tweak the individual Red, Green and Blue channels. Once you’re happy, save the effect as a preset.

4.    Split tone

Split tone

Adding a split tone is a great way to give your mono images a creative twist by adding different colour tints to the highlights and shadows.

In the Split Tone Panel, use the sliders to target different colours and intensity for the shadows and highlights.

5.    Hand colour

Hand colour

It might be hard to believe, but it is possible to replicate the look of a hand painted image in ACR.

You’ll need to make your image black and white, but do this using the Saturation slider in the Basic Panel rather than the HSL/Gray Panel. Next, select the Adjustment Brush and paint colour with a low saturation onto the image.



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