Recently Yael, from Feet from Shore asked use which one would we choose in 2 versions of a self portrait. I liked the color one better as it was warmer and I also like my Black and White to be darker and contrasted. On both however there were some distracting elements in my opinion. I asked Yael if she was ok with me trying to edit these and below is my attempt at editing her portrait.

Original from Yael - Color

Original from Yael – Color

1. Straighten out: The tilted effect creates some dynamism but I’m not really fond of it. In PS CS6 I selected the ruler from the eye dropper tool group and used it on the frame of the door. Next Image–> Image Rotation –> Arbitrary. I used the cropping tool to remove most of the empty spaces created and got the below picture.

Edit - Step 1

Edit – Step 1

2. Filling the empty spaces: On the spaces left, I used a combination of Fill with Content Aware, Clone Stamp Tool, Healing Tool and straight out copies of existing sections

Edit - Step 2

Edit – Step 2

3. Removing the focus: There are a lot of elements that are catching attention here: door, white bloc, stuff on the floor.One reason they are so eye catcher is that they are very close to a dark area. A quick way to address that is by darkening it. To do that go to Layer –> New Adjustment Layer –> Exposure. I used -2 here. As I don’t want to darken all the picture I will add a layer mask. You use a mask to reveal or hide some sections of the picture. I painted the mask black with the bucket and then painted white on the areas I wanted the Exposure layer to be applied.

Step 3

Step 3

Mask for Step 3

Mask for Step 3

4. Removing the focus (again): I was still not really happy with the door handles and found that the blocks were still a minor distraction. I merged the previous layers with Command+E. I then used some copies to remove most of the focus grabbing stuff.

Edit - Step 4

Edit – Step 4

At this point I realized that what I really wanted to do was to remove the door. For this I created a new layer, and painted it black with a brush and a layer mask to keep the signature. I think I do prefer with the empty space. It even allowed me to move the signature easily later on.

Edit - Step 4 - Without Door

Edit – Step 4 – Without Door

[UPDATE] Should have seen this earlier, but Yael pointed out to me that she would have preferred a unified White background. Before her comment it didn’t even cross my mind but it seems obvious now…

5. Shiny Hair: One quick trick to bring out hair and do highlight is to duplicate the layer with Command+J and change the blending mode to Overlay. Then you add a layer mask to only reveal the parts you want. I also dropped the opacity to 40%

Edit - Step 5

Edit – Step 5

6. More details: Yael prefers the Black and White because it has more details in the scarf. Here’s how I brought some details. After merging with Command+E, I did copy the layer with Command+J. I then converted it to Black and White from Image–>Adjustment–>Black and White. I then used Filter–>Other–>High Pass with a value of 31px. I then changed the blending mode to Soft Light and used another mask to reveal only the scarf.

Yael - Color - Edited

Yael – Color – Edited

This is my final version for the color edit. I will use it as the starting point for the Black and White version.

7. Black and White version: Go to Image –> Adjustment –> Black and White and use the preset “Lighter”. I used this one as it keeps a good amount of details without bringing up too much “bad details”. Then duplicate the layer with Command+J and change the blending mode to Multiply and the opacity to 50-60%. Add a mask to hide some parts you want to keep lighter (eyes, signature…). Finally I used Layer –>New Adjustment Layer –> Levels and  used the preset Increase Contrast 1 with some minor tweaks.

Yael - Black and White

Yael – Black and White

Let me know what you think about this process and don’t hesitate to contact me if you wish me to edit some pictures for you like I did for Yael

By Sebastien Grobelny



  1. Imelda says:

    The result is much better than the original. Thanks for the tutorial. 🙂

  2. robert87004 says:

    I think I like the door treatment in step 4 best, but only because I can compare them all. I’d like any of the versions from there on.

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