Photoshop tutorial Part 1: Sexy come-to-bed eyes…

Making those eyes smoulder with sexual longing and those lips smack with lustful desire is something all top models strive to give a photographer, but we are here (with the aid of Photoshop) to give that shot the extra sex appeal it requires to make it onto the latest album cover or into the centre fold of a glossy magazine.

I could probably write an essay on how to retouch a picture but thought it best to give little bite size tips for people to try rather than everything at once. My main advice, and probably the biggest thing to remember, is that ‘it’s retouching… not recreating!’: Photoshop should be used as a tool to enhance a picture, not to create a new one.

It should be… a little nip’n’tuck here and there to take away weird lumps ‘n’ bumps or a bit of spot healing to level out all of those dodgy skin blemishes and a touch of cloning to ditch those unwanted stray hairs.

Not… lets smooth everything out so the skin looks like plastic, or give them super pearly white teeth and a trout pout Baron Greenback would be proud of. Too much of this and you will end up with a monster.

Besides, the bulk of the work should really be done by the photographer. The right lighting, pose and good camera work go a long way to getting that perfect shot. And let’s be honest, a bad picture is pretty much going to stay that way however much you work on it.

Top tips for the eye and general retouching
1. Always dupe your layers, keeping your various stages in case of mistakes.

2. Always use Editable Adjustment Layers to correct you pic (located at the bottom of your layers panel, 4th icon in from left, half black / white circle). This way it’s a 100 times easier to tweak pic at the end.

3. My starting pic (above) was a little dull and orange so firstly I needed to toggle the levels to get back to the correct colour. Click the editable levels adjustment layer, then move the black and white triangle sliders in so they line up with the start and end of the info graph. Do this on all channels and the main RGB (you could hit the Auto button but this can be a little hit ‘n’ miss).

4. In Photoshop CS4 onwards there is a nice Vibrancy Adjustment tool that can be used to warm the picture and enhance the colours nicely just by toggling the sliders.

5. Use your Healing tool to take away all those unsightly marks and blemishes. Do this before any airbrushing (we’ll go over airbrushing in more depth in another tutorial).

The Healing tool can be a little unpredictable because it’s basically guessing what pixels to sub in. So, if it doesn’t work the first time just undo and try again. You can also try to hold down and move the heal tool for more subtle tweaking which usually works when all else has failed.

6. If you use the Clone tool remember to pick from different areas. Repeating a clone from the same area can cause patterns and will look obviously treated. Definitely not what we’re after!

7. You can really enhance the eyes by Dodge and Burning:

• Dodge the inner ring of the iris using Highlights or Midtones – 25 to 40% brush opacity

• Burn the outer ring of the iris using Midtones – 35%

8.  After bringing out the detail in the eyes it’s worth sharpening them up slightly. Indeed you may want to sharpen up the whole image.

Using Unsharp mask is a quick option but can look heavy-handed. I would dupe the layer, go to Filter / Other / HighPass… somewhere between 1 and 2. Then, set that layer to overlay creating a mask around the iris or areas you want to sharpen. This way you’re actually sharpening edges to give definition rather than the whole thing.

9. Increasing highlights and adding shadows will also make the eye more intense. Using the burn tool along the line of the eyelashes will help give depth and also, if the models’ eyebrows are a little thin, then using the burn tool subtly you can thicken without it looking odd.

10. Be careful when changing, adding or removing light glares from the pupils or the little red blood vessels from the whites. Done badly this will make a person look a little vacant, boss eyed, evil or sometimes all three. Make sure everything is looking symmetrical as wonky eyes are not a good look!

•Too much airbrushing and you will end up creating a monster! Remember it’s retouching… not recreating!

•Get someone else to take a look while you work to avoid Photoshop disasters

•Your Healing tool is your best friend

•Dodge & Burn baby! (but not too much)

•Layers! Keep your layers and label them in case you need to go back

•Always use Adjustment layers

•Finally, keep up to date with latest techniques, tips and plug-ins. Small things will make a big difference.

…Part 2: Plump, Red hot luscious Lips! (Coming soon)