Remember my Wordless Wednesday post from a couple of weeks ago?
This is my cat Sparkle, who happens to have a blog that is far more popular than my own! People really liked the effect I put on this photo, and it was ridiculously easy to do in Photoshop. Below is the original, unretouched photo:
As you can see, it was a fairly decent photo to begin with. And that is the important thing when you add photo effects: start with a good image. Yes, you can polish a turd in Photoshop, and I have done so more times than I would like to admit, but starting with a good photo really will give you much better results!
The first thing I did was make some basic corrections — color and contrast fixes, a touch of sharpening. I also made it lighter than I normally would, and you will see why shortly.
Duplicate the layer (either drag the original image layer down to the layer symbol in the Layers window or hit Command+J (Mac) or Ctrl+J (Windows). Then, with the duplicate layer highlighted, go to the drop-down list I’ve marked here (Blend Mode) and go to “Overlay.” See? It’s a lot darker now.
Next, go to the Filter Menu up top, to Filter->Blur->Gaussian Blur. Slide the radius until you are happy with the results (make sure you have Preview ticked!). Most of the time it will be around 8 pixels.
In this case, I thought the effect was overdone, so I lowered the opacity of the duplicate layer to about 70%. You can also change the Blend Mode from Overlay to Soft Light, which will do pretty much the same thing. That’s it!
Depending on the lighting of the original photo, you will get different effects. In the above case, it gave Sparkle a glamorous look with almost Rembrandt-style lighting. I used the very same effect on a less contrasty shot of her and got a softer, more dreamy effect: