It’s the quickest way to lose weight, perfect your skin, whiten your teeth, brighten your eyes and look like a movie star. I’m talking about Photoshop Elements 12, in case you can’t tell.
We’re moving on to the Perfect Portrait tool in the Guided mode. The things I love about this tool are A) it teaches you how to use the tools you’ll use in the expert panel so that you can get the same effects someday without any hand-holding. And B) the tools are sophisticated enough that it doesn’t cause distortion when doing things, like, shedding some weight (the easy way–No diets! No exercise!).
Its starting to sound like a magic pill, right?
Let us be honest for a moment. When I’ve been asked to take pictures, sometimes before I even take off my lens cap, one or more subjects like to confirm that we can indeed make them look thinner in Photoshop.
But it is no magic pill. It is due to the crazy genius that abounds at Adobe, the creators of this amazing program. The good news is that it is very doable. Easy, even.
So let’s get started.
We’re in The Guided mode of Photoshop Elements 12, with the photo you would like to work on already opened. Click on “Perfect Portrait” under “Touchups” on the right side panel.
First of all, I just discovered something new. It’s a button at the top of the panel next to the reset button. Adobe includes this little gem if Adobe.TV has happened to create an online video tutorial that details how this feature is used. So I watched their video, and I recommend you do so as well. It was very informative, which is why I decided to link to theirs instead of making my own. (Plus, my kids are here, with no quiet in sight. Tutorial videos are less informative when you can’t hear the instruction over the screaming in the background).
Step 1: Apply a blur.
Ahem, I don’t like to speak negatively about anything Adobe, but one thing that gets on my nerves with some of these guided tools is that it sometimes doesn’t allow you to skip steps. So, you must apply a blur in order to move on to Step 2. Keep in mind that this step is only to give you an idea of how much you want to blur the skin. Pay no mind to anything except how the skin looks. Because we will soon be undoing this step.
Keep your blur light enough that you can still see texture. When you get too heavy handed and smooth away all texture, the skin looks plastic, which is not an attractive look. The settings for the blur tool will remain the same when you use the blur brush in a moment.
Step 2: Reveal Original (or in layman’s terms: undo the previous step)
Step 3: Blur Brush. Paint over the skin you would like to smooth, avoiding the mouth and eyes. The more times you paint over an area, the stronger the effect will be. You will be able to see the areas you’ve worked on by how smooth or not smooth they are.
Step 4: Increase contrast. Just push the button and the program with do it for you. I didn’t do this step (and Adobe didn’t force me to) which is why I don’t have a picture of it. It makes your image pop a little more. But be wary. It isn’t flattering on some subjects. If you decide you don’t want more contrast, the good news is that you can undo it (Ctrl + Z), and you can skip this step all together, like I did.
Step 5: Touch Ups.
Since I went over these tools in my previous tutorial, I won’t be going over each of them. You can get a refresher here. But, just because I’m nice, I’ll remind you that the Spot Healing brush takes samples from surrounding areas and uses them to fill in the spot you select with the brush. It’s ideal for removing skin blemishes, boogers, stains, or even unwanted debris in the background.
For the brightening eyes portion, you’re using the dodge tool. I like to shrink the tool enough that I can brush around the iris without touching the pupil.
Step 6: Add Glow
Although it says “Add Glow” you can actually add any number of effects to your photo this way, you can give it texture, make it look like you are looking through textured glass, like the photo was painted. There are loads of possibilities.
Step 7: Slim Down
Yes, the long awaited slim down tool. It makes you look thinner while preserving the look of your photo, and preventing everything from looking distorted. It is meant to be a subtle difference, not liposuction. If you can’t tell the difference, try undoing it (Ctrl + Z) to see the difference it made. Every time you push the button it slims you down a little more. Now. Keep an eye on the other people in the photo. The other people in the photo might be looking kind of scary if you push the photo too many times, even if you are satisfied with the way you look. That is something to avoid.
Also note, this tool changes the aspect ratio of your photo (as in, the photo, like you, won’t be as wide as it once was).
Step 8: Done
As always with tools in the guided mode, you must click “Done” at the bottom of the panel when you are finished to confirm these changes. If you exit the Perfect Portrait panel before clicking this button, then your changes will not be kept.
Duhn, duh, duh, DUHN! Perfect portrait achieved, and you didn’t even need a DSLR to do it. Although it helps.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
I’m a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I’ve also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.