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Ethereal glow while retaining skin texture
I've been trying to find a way to get a dreamy, romantic glow on a portrait, while retaining skin texture for a while now. I know it's a bit of a non-sequitur, but hey, one can try. And I'm getting there!
For the glow effect, I'm using a neat PS action called Dave Beaman's Ethereal Glow which I downloaded somewhere a while back - quick googling shows it's still widely available. For getting back texture I'm using a technique by Des I found on Luminous Landscape forums recently.
Here's the process in PS:
- Save original background layer
- I use Kodak GEM Airbrush to smooth skin - in this step I'm mostly concerned fixing blotches and blemishes and not too worried about texture, so you can use whatever method you prefer to get rid of such imperfections
- Bring back texture - this is Des's technique, and numbers vary widely between images (I switched the order of D and C):
A: Dupe the B/Ground Layer
B: Filter> Other > HiPass set say 15px( 5-20)
C: Gaussian Blur> say 3-8 Px [I use Smart Filter as this is a critical step which can cause wacky results]
F: Change blend Mode to Linear Light and add BLACK layer Mask
G: Brush the the skin where you want smoothness but texture in WHITE
[H: Adjust opacity as needed]
- Dave's Ethereal Glow - make two copies
- Take most texture-filled channel from Bring Back Texture step above (usually blue), and use as mask for Ethereal Glow layers
- Inverse mask for one Glow layer
- Apply an S-curve on the mask histograms to punch through only the hilight/shadow in each mask
- (optional) Apply Gaussian Blur on the masks for the glow filters - try this to see if it helps. The more blur, the more ethereal the glow.
This way you get two glow channels - shadows and highlights. You can tweak their balance and opacity accordingly.
Below an example of a portrait, first without glow, second with, and 100% crops. I have used more glow on the shadows (50% opacity vs. 30% in highlights), as this brings out the cheeks nicely and avoids overly flattening the image. As you can see, the texture is not visible in the screen-res versions, but it is in the full-sized versions. I haven't had time to print this out to see if it works out, or if I need to tone down the glow.
Skin tone corrected by numbers - but I'm curious to hear whether it looks ok.
I know this is not to everyone's liking, but I'm going for a very specific look. I'm keen to hear what you think, and if there's a better or a different way to reach the same result! All other input on the PP work very welcome - I'm quite new to this and would really appreciate tips and hints to make this better!
Last edited by feppe; 03-06-2009 at 12:04 PM.
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