How to Achieve Dreamy Photos in Photoshop - FREE Editing Tutorial (with pictures)

Author: Forough Mohammadianfar

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Hello! My name is Forough Mohammadianfar. I was born in 1992 and live in the beautiful city of Dezful, Iran. I have been interested in photography since I was a child. Some of my photos were published in magazines around the world. When I was 27 years old, I realized that photography is my life. My main purpose is to convey emotion and feeling in photographs to help make a stronger connection with viewers.

Retouching is a form of art.

In this article Forough go over how she edit her photos for instructables and for the clients.

Before you start photographing a project, make sure you think about how you want to photograph it. If you take bad photos, it will be harder to rescue them during editing. While you can always tweak the brightness, contrast and saturation, you probably won't be able to fix blurry photos, extremely dark photos or photos taken with a bright flash as easily.

Creating Soft and Dreamy Photograph

1. Copy the layer.

In Photoshop the shortcut CTRL + J (pc) or COMMAND + J (Mac) can be used to duplicate a layer or multiple layers within a document.

* Adjustments vary depending on the photo. The following settings apply to a specific photo. Have fun with the adjustments and be sure that they match your vision.

2. Shadows and Clarity.

In this point of editing, to make the photos more dreamy, we play with shadows and clarity, Filter - camera Raw Filter.


Highlights - 40

White - 40

Shadow + 40

and I lighten the Blacks a little + 41

To increase the contrast in image and the emerge of the subject, I set a small amount of Clarity to 42. Finally, a more beautiful feeling is created on the image.

3. Black and White Adjustment

Now I create a black and white adjustment.

Select the darken mode and set the Opacity to %50, thats help see more of the colours.

Play with black and white adjustment. You want the middle parts - neutral light be a little darker and light parts of the photograph to remain.

4. Level Adjustment Layer

I use the levels adjustment layer and lighten the light part to 230 and the middle part - neutral light darken to create a better mood in the image.

4. Brightness / Contrast Adjustment layer

Another way is going up to the Layer menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen, choosing New Adjustment Layer, then choosing Brightness/Contrast:

Lower contrast a bit. I set the Contrast to -30 and if I feel that the whole image is blurred, I increase the Brightness a little. Set Brightness to 15.

5. Gradient Map Adjustment Layer

I use the gradient map adjustment layer to be able to move the bright areas to the desired color tone. Click on Gradient and chose two colors.

I click on the white bottom square and chose a dark gray color and now click on the bottom right square and select a light orange color and click OK. Reduce the Opacity of the layer - %30.

5. Exposure Adjustment Layer

Increase Exposure by 24%.

6. Color Balance Adjustment Layer

To give a warmer effect to the image, we use Color Balance Adjustment Layer:

Cyan / Red color +16

Magenta / Green -5

Yellow / Blue -14

That will give us a warmer result.

7. Curves Adjustment Layer

Curves adjustment layer - by clicking Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves or directly clicking on the curves tool if you have the Adjustments tab open.

Lighten the dark part a little to make it look better, and return the middle part to its original state.

8. Vibrance Adjustment Layer

Vibrance adjustment layer is the icon on the far right of the top row. It's easy to remember because it looks like a letter V.

Set Saturation to +14.

9. Photo Filter Adjustment Layer

Set the color close to purple, and then set the Opacity of the layer to 50%.

10. Curves Adjustment Layer

Darken some contrast in the dark part and set the middle part to first state.

10. Healing Brush

To clean the texture of the subject skin, we first make a copy all existing layers into a single layer and place it as a new layer on top of the other layers.

SHIFT + CTRL + ALT +E (pc)


Then duplicate this layer and press:

CTRL + J (pc)


We start removing moles and blemishes on the face.

You can use the same tool for any imperfections you would like to remove - a stain on the model’s clothes that you didn’t notice during the shoot, a dirty background, as well as odd and fine patterns known as the moiré effect.

11. Gaussian Blur

To complete the subject set texture, place the first layer mode on layer 1 copy and select vivid

light option.

In adjustment menu, select the Invert option.

Now click layer 1, from the menu.

Set Hight pass to 25.

Select Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur, option and set number to 3 or 4. Press (Invert Selection):

CTRL + I (pc)

COMMAND + I (mac)

Choose Brush tool and set: Flow 70%, Opacity 80%.

Start dragging on model skin and clean.

Now let's show some parts of the model more clearly, such as hair, eyes, etc.

From the Filter menu choose High pass: Radius set to 9. Then we set the mode to Overlay.

After the lower layers, press

CTRL + I (pc)

COMMAND + I (mac)

Brush Tool: Flow 70%, Opacity 80%, we mark the places the we want to show prominently (hair, eyes, etc.) with a brush.

Extra tips for editing photos from Forough:

  • Use Gradient Filters, these filters allow you to increase or decrease the contrast of certain parts of the image, depending on what you want to focus.

  • The Radial Filter also allows you to focus on one part and draw the attention to the desired part.

  • Convert black and white photos: There are several ways to convert a color image to a monochrome image. It is better to use photoshop tool so we can control tons at the same time to maintain the natural flow when converting colors.

  • Calibrate your monitor every few months.

What mistakes should you avoid when editing a photo?

  • You shouldn’t edit in a single layer. Multi-layer editing allows you to edit effectively and allows you to go back without damaging other edits.

  • Don't lighten the whiteness of eyes, this will make your image looks unnatural.

  • You shouldn’t use excessive sharpening tools and a good example of this is hair. In overly sharpened photos, you will notice a lot of breakage in the hair.

  • You shouldn't leave everything to the editing stage.

Good edit comes with practice, but ultimately it's best if you can convey your project in a few really good and clear photos instead of eight million slightly blurred ones. Always try to whittle it down!

Retouching is a form of art.



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