Editing….Keeping it simple!

How long does it take to edit one image? Well, that depends on the image. Some of my art images I spend a lot of time on. Portraits don’t usually take as long. I try to keep my edits pretty simple. Pretty easy. And pretty natural.
The first thing I do when I look at the image is figure out any skin issues I need to fix. We all have little blemishes and dark circles under the eyes, sometimes it is just more noticeable.
The easiest way to fix these is using the patch tool. You can use the clone tool, but the patch tool is so much easier to use.
Duplicate your layer. (CTRL +J on a PC or Command + J on a Mac)
Select your patch tool, circled on the left. (If you don’t have a patch tool, you will have to use your clone tool.)
Now what we are going to do is just take the patch tool and circle the blemishes we want to fix (#1) and then drag that little circle onto better skin (#2). Then let go of your mouse and it automatically fixes that blemish. So we do that for all the ones we want to fix. (For clone tool you will just hold down ALT + Click your mouse to identify the skin you want to use to fix the issue and then move it over and clone it over the are you want to fix.)
Can you only use the good skin in the same area where you are working? Nope. If you have better, prettier skin on their elbow, their arm, their nose, wherever…..you can move the patch tool over to there and use that.
Now I have finished getting rid of her tiny little blemishes on her skin. I also worked on her forehead to just remove the tiny little crinkles there.
Her skin looks pretty good, but she has a bit of dark circles under her eyes. It was late in the day and it was crazy, super hot. She was probably really tired of me pointing my camera at her by that point. But we are now going to minimize those spots too using the patch tool again!
Zoom in to where you are going to work. Using your patch tool draw a circle around the eye and then drag that circle over to a better area of skin and release the mouse and let it change it.
We don’t want this to be too dramatic and to look fake so we are going to drop that effect back a little bit. To do that go up to Edit> Fade Patch Selection > It will pop up with a box for you to choose your opacity. For this one I used the slider bar and moved it about 51%.

Then I used the patch tool and went to the other eye and did the same thing. I used the patch tool and circled the area I wanted to change, moved it to better skin, let the mouse go and then went up to Edit> Fade Patch Selection > and when the slider bar popped up I chose 53% opacity.
Now my image looks like this…..
Looking better. 
Now we are going to use a freebie action from Coffeeshop Blog called PowderRoom 2 to edit some more. It works in PS and in Elements.
First flatten your image. Otherwise when you run the action it could mess up what you have already done!
Load the action into your actions palette. Click play and let the action run. A window will pop up, just click continue…..
So to use these we are going to need to make sure that we are using a soft brush on a white foreground (circled on left) and that the black box on the Layer Palette (circled on right) gets clicked. We are painting this effect on.
At the top where you see the brush you are using, change your opacity to between 25-30% and 100% Flow. Then start painting this on the skin. 
Now you can add some highlights into her eyes. Click on Bright Eyes, make sure your foreground color is set to white. At about 8-10% opacity, take the brush and go over the color part in her eye. Also gently click your mouse on any catchlights in her eye as well. If the effect is too strong, you can decrease the overall opacity using the slider bar in the Layers Palette (as long as the Bright Eyes layer is selected) or you can switch the colors in your brush and go back over the eyes to undo the effect.
Once you have the color to your liking, we are going to define the eyes a bit more.
Then move down to Eyes Define (click the black box) make your brush large enough to go over her eye in a sweeping motion and go over that at about 25-30% opacity.
Now time to sharpen the photo a bit more.
We are going to run another FREE action from Pioneer Woman called Define and Sharpen. It is in her Set 1 found HERE for PS and HERE for Elements.
Load up the action and hit play.
This action really makes the image POP and add a sharpness and overall clarity to the image.
I ran the action on this image and thought it ended up being just a tad too strong so I changed the opacity of the action to about 70%.
Next I wanted to really brighten up my greens and make them POP too.
So, I duplicated my layer (CTRL + J on PC, Command +J on a Mac)
I changed my blending mode to soft light for the duplicated layer. 
As you can see my greens have brightened up, but now her skin is looking  a little orange. I don’t want that after all the work I just did on her skin. 
So, time for layer masking!
On the Layers palette go down and click the icon that looks like a  little rectangle with a circle  in it. That pops up a layer mask on for that layer.
Since white was my foreground color, nothing has changed.
I need to click the white box to change this…..So highlight the white box and then click CTRL + I on a PC or Command + I on a Mac. That will change the color of the box to black and then we can paint the effect where we want it. I just painted the effect onto the background. Not anywhere on her. When I was done, I flattened my layers.
Next up we are going to do a little dodging and burning. Dodging makes things lighter, Burning makes them darker.
So, hit CTRL + J on a PC, Command +J if you are on a Mac.

Around her eyes I am going to burn just a little bit to make it look a bit darker.  So at around 10-11 % percent I just use the burn tool around her eyes like eye makeup.

Next I want to accentuate the natural shadow on her face. Which is on her chin and the side of her nose. I drop my opacity on my burn tool down to about 7-9% and just go along those spots. While the burn tool was set low I also went around the dark edges of the colored part of her eyes.

I also burn a little bit of darkness here and there in the strands of her hair.

I decided I wanted to add a few lighter parts to her hair. So, now I switch over from the Burn tool to the Dodge tool. It’s in the same place, but the Dodge tool is a little circle with a line coming off of it (it looks like a lollipop to me!).

Click the dodge tool and change your exposure to about 7%. The difference between the dodge tool and the burn tool is that the dodge tool you have to click to get it to apply the transformation. The burn tool you can hold your mouse down and it works over and over. The dodge tool does not do that!

I am pretty much done, so I flatten my image.

Go up to Filter> Sharpen > Unsharp Mask and apply the following numbers:
Amount 50%
Radius 4.3 px
Threshold 7 levels

Using those steps you changed your image dramatically….

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