High Key of Sorts: evolving style

Started Jan 30, 2012 | Discussions thread
OP GPapa Senior Member • Posts: 1,919


1) Start with sharply focused images where the faces are well exposed. (Exposure not absolutelly required but the examples previouslly posted all started with fairly high ISO images and the shadows are full of noise that can be problematic.)

2) Duplicate the base layer. Then reduce saturation to about 20% (or 0% for monochrome)

3) Duplicate that layer and set the mode to Screen. Tweak the levels to bring the skin to near white.

4) Merge the screen layer onto the reduced saturation layer and set the layer blend mode to Darken.

5) Create a white Fill layer.

6) Duplicate the Screen layer and move to top, above the white layer, for each part of the image you want to show. I do this one element at a time so I can see the image taking shape.

7) I have a gradient tool set up with a round shape. It works like a white vignette with the center point showing through 100% and fading to white background.

Type is Solid
Smoothness 100%
Upper Left: 0% at location 0%
Upper Right: 100% at location 100%
Mid point set 38%
Lower Left: Color is white at 100%
Lower Right: Color is white at 60%
Midpoint: 7%

8) I normally start with the eyes. I create one layer for each eye and do the vignette from the center of the eye out to the edge of the eyebrow or perhaps a bit beyond. I then merge both eyes to one layer. The eyes usually remain the topmost layer.

I will usually do one layer that centers on the forehead, one for each cheek, one for the mouth and chin. and sometimes one or two for the neck and shoulders. It kind of depends on how much of the original you want to include and how big the vignettes are. sometimes I just create one vignette for the whole face and it works. Other times it doesn’t work so well.

I adjust the Opacity of each layer to create the combined effect I am looking for.

I use the Eraser set to about 15% to reduce some of the unwanted background in some cases. I will use the Dodge Tool to lighten some areas and the Burn Tool to darken others on the various layers.

I don’t completely under stand how the Darken layer blend mode works but often you will get white patterns where the different layers overlap. Adjusting the Opacity of the layers will sometimes correct this. Other times rearranging the order of the layers will correct the unwanted white patterns. Sometimes I create a special Multiply layer with opacity set as low as 10% to correct the white pattern issue.

If there is more than one subject in the image I create a full set of layers for each subject then adjust the opacity of the two subjects independant from each other before the final layer merge.

When I’m done messing with the individual layers, I merge them all into one new layer. (Control-Alt-Shift-E). I then resize the canvas so I can crop and center the image. Finally I create a new white base layer the same size as the copped image.

For sharing on the web the last thing I do is flatten the image and save as a jpeg.

That should get you started.

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