I've had a couple people ask me to do tutorials of PHOTOSHOPPING pictures. I'm actually terrible at executing tutorials of any kind.....but I'll try my best to break it down as easily and as elaborately as possible.

I do photoshop a lot of my pictures but more than just for vanity reasons, most of the time, I just don't capture or have the lighting I want and the colors turn out way off if I'm not using my DSLR. Especially webcam or cellphone quality photos, they tend to need a lot of editing to look "nice". One of the reasons I started photoshopping my pictures was because I have the world's shittiest lighting in my room and every time I wanted to take a nice picture of myself, I find that the image comes out rather blah looking. Sure, I think I LOOK nice, but when the picture in general looks so bad, I just can't even stand looking at it. So it's safe to say, I deleted a lot of pictures of myself off of my photo booth program. The lighting makes everything look green and dark and it just wasn't worth it. But then I started experimenting with photoshop on my own shitty quality pictures and found, they can actually turn out quite well! In a lot of ways, it's like salvaging bad photographs. I do a lot of photoshop work as a graphic design student, but doing it on my own face is definitely new.

There's no "easy" way to make a bad picture look GOOD. There are quite a few steps to make your picture look much better, but if you have basic PS knowledge, you can follow these steps to some of the basics of editing your photographs.

For the purpose of this tutorial, I'll do the theme of the edit on something specific -- I'll call this "FANTASY EFFECT".

We're going to take THIS (the lighting is "okay" here because I used my mini vanity light)

And turn it into THIS

I know you might be thinking, "But that's wayyyyyy fake! Why would you do that??" Well the purpose is to show you how much you can really do in just a few minutes to drastically change a photograph. A lot of bloggers tend to photoshop their faces for the purpose of their banner or something of that sort. It's boring to see a regular old photograph of someone's face as a banner, so as a way to look more aesthetically appealing and unique, something as dramatic as this ps edit might be what most people are going for.

So if you're ready, LETS BEGIN!

So open up your image in PHOTOSHOP. First thing you need to do is SAVE AS and rename it so that you still have your original, unedited copy.

The very first step after you save is COLOR changing. Fantasy photos and games have a very specific kind of "aura". There's a lot of soft colors and lots of blue and yellow tones.

Channel mixer is where you can change the overall color tone of your image.

In Channel Mixer, you're going to want to play around with your OUTPUT CHANNELS to create a more BLUE and YELLOW tone to your photograph. Below you can see my inputs but ignore it. It really depends on what your image originally looks like. Since my image was pretty yellowy, I only really had to change the BLUE output channel and throw more blue into it. I won't go into details but Channel Mixer is definitely something you need to experiment with in order to really understand it's usage.
The next step is to go into IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > LEVELS.
Levels is where you can change the 'level' or amount of light, color that is in your image.
Experiment with this so that your image is slightly lighter and softer.
Now it's time to tune up the colors a bit. Go into IMAGE > ADJUSTMENT > COLOR BALANCE.
Color Balance is your place for color tune-up. Shadows let's you change the overall dark spots in your image. Midtones change the color tone of your image in it's entirety. For example, my wig is PINK and it won't change the color of the wig, but it will change the color of the 'light' that hits the wig. You can tell the subtle difference from the picture right above this one. See how there's more of a "blue" tint hitting the wig? That's what midtones does.
Highlights changes the tint of the brightest parts of the image. (i.e. opposite of Shadows)
After messing with the colors, it's time to make the image a little more "fantasy" looking. Go to FILTERS > BLUR > GAUSSIAN BLUR. The point of blurring your image is to make the graininess and dots go away on your picture, making the image look softer. In the case of human skin, we do this to make the skin look 'flawless'.
I usually keep the radius at 3.5-4.5. Any more and your blur will be too much for skin.
Then go to EDIT > FADE BLUR. You'll see a box like this below. Click on the MODE drop down menu and you should select SCREEN. Screen will always make your images really super soft and bright. So since it's too bright at 100%, bring it down to about 50% or however you think is good. Again, experiment on your own image.
We're going to hit GAUSSIAN BLUR again and edit like we did previously. This time, we're going to hit the MULTIPLY mode. Multiply is kinda how it sounds, it's like fusing two of your images together so your images tend to be a bit dark and gloomy.

Since we don't want it to be too dark, again fade to about 50% or however you think will look good on your image.
Notice how my image looks darker but the lighting is still soft? This makes the skin look more flawless at the same time, the image doesn't look too bright or too fake.
Brightness makes the over all image brighter. Contrast makes the over all image have bolder and sharper edges. We're going to be subtle here and raise the brightness just a tad bit, so that the face looks more white. Contrast helps the image not to look too 'washed out'.
Next we're going to go into my favorite part; or what we like to call, "AIRBRUSHING".
Well, it's pretty much airbrushing.
So go into FILTER > LIQUIFY.
Liquify is how fat girls like to make themselves look skinny. Or in my case, this is the reason why I don't need to 'diet'. Like, ever. I know. I'm disgustingly deceiving like that. LOLL

Anyway, so if you've never used this tool before, I recommend looking it up online. I don't want this tutorial to be TOO elaborate, since I'm no expert. So I'll just say, stick with the bloat tool and the pinch tool (if you click on the image, it will show you the tools on the left side better) These are the only tools you'll need anyway. You can change the brush size to fit your image but basically what we want to do here is pinch things you think are too big, like my nose for instance. A couple clicks should do the trick. The bloat tool is to make things bigger, like my eyes. Be subtle though. Too much will make you look way too fake, which ruins the purpose. I use the pinch tool to make my face look a bit slimmer as well. Just experiment with this, it's not too hard to get down.
Next up we're going to manipulate my dark ass eyes into something a bit more "fantasy" appropriate. Since I'm not wearing contacts, I made my job a bit difficult. But if you have contacts, you can probably just skip this step. I decided to include it though since people sometimes ask me what contacts I'm wearing in pictures I am NOT wearing contacts in. keke
Here's the secret......

First step is to make a copy of the image. (right click the layer of your image on the layer side bar)
Then, taking your DODGE tool (on the left side as you can see) Make the radius of your pointer small so that it's about as big as your pupil, and slowly click around your eyes to make them appear much brighter and lighter.
(I'm using Midtone range) (Tip: Click the image to see full size and details)
Then you're going to take the round elipse tool and circle it around your eyes the best you can. CTRL + C and then immediately, CTRL + V (aka, Copy, Paste) or if you have Mac like me, obv. Command instead of CTRL.
Now you have eyeball layers to work with so that it's separate from your over all image.
Merge the two eye ball layers into one and rename it "EYES" or whatever.
Okay once you have your eye layer, you can now go into IMAGE > ADJUSTMENT > HUE / SATURATION to change your eye color. Hue changes the color of your image. I'd say keep playing around with the hue slider until you get a 'green' ish color or whatever you prefer. 

Take your eraser took and start shaping the eyes to the rest of the image. Be careful with this part.
Select your eyes layer and you should see a drop down menu next to the opacity box in your layers panel. Select LIGHTEN. This should now make your eyes look a bit realistic.
 Also made a PUPILS layer since my pupils got too washed out during the process of editing. Simply make a new layer on top of the eyes layer and using the brush tool, choose black foreground color and stamp two pupil dots to where your pupils are. Notice the difference? Use your opacity tool on the layers panel to bring it down a bit so the brush is softened.

Add the final touches by carefully erasing around the edges, blurring the edges to make them appear softer and less 'placed on' your face.
Now let's go back to the over all image. Go into IMAGE > ADJUSTMENT > VIBRANCE.
This is a subtle tweak so that the colors don't look TOO bold.

Next we're going to go back to the GAUSSIAN BLUR again. Again fade it except this time, on SOFT LIGHT mode. Again fade so it's around 40-60% of the blur. Soft Light makes your image brighter and give the edges a soft touch.
Curves is where you can change the variation of light and color in your image.
I used it very subtly here, but if your image is WAYY off in color, curves can usually help put color restoration in your picture. Again, this is an excellent tool to play with.
Once again, I'll go back to the COLOR BALANCE tool to change up the colors to how I like it. I'm very anal when it comes to my colors, so if you're like me, you'll find yourself going back to this tool quite a bit when editing.
Next up we're going to give the image it's final touches. You're almost done!

 Make a background copy of your image or a duplicate layer if you're using layers.

This is AWESOME for artificial lighting since I have close to none.....I edited my own artificial lighting! Trust me, it makes a big difference in your composition. Lighting makes things 10x's more dramatic than it really is.

Wait, so if it's artificial lighting....and I'm photoshopping it. Does that makes it Fake, fake lighting??


And VOILA! You're now a Final Fantasy character. :3

Like I said, a lot of people do this kind of thing to make little designs for their personal sites or blogs. Stamp some words on there and you got yourself a full on blog banner! Easy peasy.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! For any questions, feel free to leave me a comment. :)



  1. thats so cool how much you can do with photoshop! im currently using lightroom to edit my pics cuhs lighting/exposure is usually my biggest problem. i wish i knew the handles of photoshop though, i've really been wanting to make a new banner, something having to do with a sneaker/nail polish vector but i haven't gotten around to finding a tutorial for it yet sighss

  2. Holy crap how talented are you?! you should've seen my face when I looked at the before and after pic. it was like O o O

  3. Anonymous20.2.13

    Thanks for finally writing about > "Lo 101: FANTASY EFFECT, PHOTO EDIT TUTORIAL" < Loved it!

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