Sunday, 3 July 2016

How To: Airbrush In Photoshop CS6

Probably a slightly controversial thing to write about, as there will probably end up being some people who will be all "you airbrush all your photos", "you're fake". But do you know what? I don't airbrush my photos, but it is a useful skill that can be used to edit photos that aren't necessarily portraits or selfies. Whilst doing A-Level photography, which seems a whole lifetime ago (but in reality was only a few years ago), knowing how to airbrush seemed invaluable. My portraits looked more professional, still life shots looked sleek, and I used the technique on pretty much every photo I took as part of my exhibitions. Now there are quite literally millions of ways to airbrush a photo, but one of the main reasons I prefer this particular technique is for the sheer simplicity of it (alongside the results it gives obvs). It's sort of like boom, boom, boom and you're done. And on that note, I'll get on with showing you how to do it...
For this little tutorial, I'm using one of my own photos as I know my friend won't mind me plastering her face on the internet as she is completely used to it. So once you have selected your photo and opened it up in Adobe Photoshop, we can begin. Now one of the first things I always recommend doing whenever you're editing a photo, is to duplicate the layer. Essentially this means if anything goes wrong, you can delete the duplicate layer and you're left with where you started. The more layers you have the better, as you are able to delete specific sections of your editing process. To do this you simply hit Ctrl + J on your keyboard (CMD + J on a Mac), and Photoshop has done it for you. If for some strange reason this doesn't work just go to Layer > Duplicate Layer, and just hit ok when a box pops up. 
Working on the new duplicate layer you want to change the layer blend mode to 'Overlay'. To do this you look on the right side of the screen, and you'll see a drop down box. At the moment 'Normal' will be selected, but to change the blend mode just click on 'Overlay'. Now when it has changed, you'll be like 'woah, why does my image look so orangey and dark' - DON'T WORRY! This is completely normal and it won't look like this for long! You then want to invert the layer, which is very important so don't forget!
Next you want to add a High Pass filter over the top. This makes your photo look quite blurry so that the skin still looks natural when you have airbrushed your photo. To do this you go to Filter > Other > High Pass, and when a window pops up asking you to adjust the pixel radius using a slider, you want to set it to 10 pixels. The pixel radius is usually set at 10 anyway, but if not just drag the slider along.
Similar to the last step, you want to go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. When the window pops up asking you to set the pixel radius. Set the slider to a radius of 3 pixels. Any more and your photo will look too fake, and if set any less the airbrush will be too sheer, and you will have completely wasted your time. Now you need to add a layer mask, which seems a bit stupid considering you've done all this work. But what this does is allow you to airbrush the parts of your image that you want to work with - rather than the whole thing. To do this you simply hold down the ALT key on your keyboard, and click the 'Add A Mask' button on the bottom right section of your screen. It will look like a rectangle with a smaller circle inside, if you can't see from my screenshot.
You're all thinking "this technique is meant to be teaching me how to airbrush, so when are we going to get to using an actual brush", well now it's time to do just that. Hit B on your keyboard, or select the brush tool from the toolbox, and select the preset 'Airbrush Soft Round 50% Flow' brush. Once you have selected your brush, the most important thing I need to tell you is not to click off the tool or swap layers or do anything until you are happy with your image, as otherwise you will have to repeat the whole process again. With the brush you want to simply brush over the areas of the image that you would like to airbrush. For example, if you are doing a face, you want to brush over the forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, etc. - but you need to avoid any natural lines and markings such as dimples and the contours of your nose otherwise your image will look flat and unnatural.

And you're done! I told you it was easy!

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