Image Enhancing Effects Created in Photoshop

When You Want to Add a Touch of Glow, Color or Blur

There are limitless effects that one could create in Photoshop. One of my favorite effects is what I like to call the “soft glow”. It can add a dreamy feel to a picture without looking too blurry or diminishing the details of the photograph you are trying to edit.

To begin, open your Photoshop program. Go to File, which is on the top left the corner, and then select Open. Locate your picture. Know beforehand where your picture was saved. Was it saved on Desktop, or in a specific folder? Once you locate the picture, click on it once, and then click on Open. You should see your picture displayed on Photoshop.

You want to make two copies of these pictures on different layers. To do this, press the SHIFT key, the CTRL key, the ALT key, and the letters “N”, and “E” at the same time. Then you press the CTRL key, and the letter “J”. After doing this, on the right-hand side of your screen, you should see two extra copies of your picture in addition to your original, which makes a total of three. Go to the Filter option, which is near the top left of your screen, and under BLUR choose GAUSSIAN BLUR. Use the little slide to determine how much blur you want. Don’t cause too much blur to the point where all the details all gone. Using three pixels should be good enough for the effect you are trying to create. After you are done with this step, click OKAY.

On the right-hand side of your screen where you see the word LAYERS, you’ll see a little box under that word that says NORMAL. Click on the little arrow and look at the options. You should see options such as Darken, Multiply, Lighten, and Screen. At this point, there are many effects you can create as you scroll down that list. Since we are trying to do the “soft glow” effect, choose the OVERLAY option.

The effect should be a soft, pretty glow that would add a special touch to a favorite photograph.

Another effect that can be used is blurring. When blurring is used correctly, it can help make a subject in the image “pop” from the rest of the pictures. Locate and open the picture you would like to work with in Photoshop. Press CTRL and the letter “J” at the same time to make another layer. It’s always good to work with an extra layer in case you make a mistake and want to revert to the original. Go to FILTER, then BLUR, then GAUSSIAN BLUR, and instead of causing a slight blur as we did for the soft glow effect, we want to cause a lot of blurs. For this, I would use a blur that 40 pixels. After you are done adjusting the blur, press OKAY. On the left corner of your screen, you should see a tool box. Look for the ERASER tool. If you can’t find the Eraser tool, simply press the letter E. You are ready to use the eraser tool when you see that the mouse has turned into an “O” shape whenever you hover it in front of your blurred image. Make sure that your opacity is to 100, and that your brush is a pretty good size. To check these things, look on the top left corner of Photoshop. Since you chose to work with an eraser, there should be a tool box that appeared. You will see where it says Brush. Click the down arrow to choose what kind of brush you’d like to use. Do the same with Opacity. Once you have these set, you can begin to “draw” on the image, taking care to only draw over the subject that you want to have “pop” out. In the example shown, the cute little boy and the food he’s reaching for are the main subjects that I want highlighting against the blurry background. After you are done, use the Blur Tool, which looks like a little drop of water in the Photoshop toolbox, to clean up any hard edges that you may not like. Make sure that when you use the Blur tool, it’s at 100 so that it can have a better softening effect. After that, your picture and the effect should be completed.

An effect that many wedding photographers use is one where the overall photo is black and white, but a detail in the picture is colored. This is a very easy look to create. Just locate and select the picture you want to work with. Do CTRL and the letter “J” to create a new layer to work on. On the bottom right of Photoshop, you’ll see a little circle that is half white and half black. Click on that. Look for Hue/Saturation. Lower the Saturation bar ALL the way down. Your picture will turn black and white. Use the ERASER tool to “color in” the areas you want to be colored. Be careful, and change brush sizes if you have to in brush toolbar in the upper left corner. Working with smaller brushes is better and gives a cleaner effect.

As a little tip, if you want to remove little things from your face, or fix red eye, use the SMUDGE tool. The SMUDGE tool is available when you right click on the water drop which is the Blur Tool. When you right-click, you’ll get the option to use the Smudge tool. Magnify your photo to the object you want to fix. If it’s a pimple you’re trying to get rid of, use little strokes of Smudge in the motion of outward to inward toward a pimple. What you’re doing is blending the pimple in with the normal skin. And the same goes for red eyes. Blend the black of the pupil in toward the red area. Blend with small strokes.

These are a few simple effects that can be done on Photoshop to enhance pictures. Don’t be afraid to experiment with brush sizes, blur amounts, filters, colors and other options. Just remember to always make an extra duplicate layer of the picture you are working with. In case the effect you’re trying to create doesn’t work, you can always just delete the extra layer and start over with your original one. Good luck and have fun learning more with Photoshop!