Category: Tutorials

Creating a bar

The bar in the background of the “Happy hour” composite I made in Photoshop using a couple of stock images.
If you would like to try this out for yourself, you can find all the links to the used resources in the text below.

The complete project looks like this:Bargirl_scr-1

After placing and manipulating all the resources the empty bar looks like this:

A wall of bottles is a paid stockimage and can be found here: 123rf I copied the image and flipped it horizontal to fill the whole wall. The part in the middle will be covered by the model, so it doen’t matter that it won’t fit completely.


The next couple of resources are alle great and free resources.

The lensflare can be found here: PSDBox

A cocktail neon sign came from a public domain image that can be found here: PublicDomainPictures.

And the bar can be found on CGtextures. Also the wooden texture used for the bar can be found on CGtextures and also the front of the bar is found on this great resource.

The two neon signs are scaled, placed with screen blending mode and masked out parts I didn’t wanted to use.
On the wood for the top of the bar I did a perspective transform (Edit/Transform/Perspective) to give it depth and with a curves adjustement layer placed in multiply blending mode I darkened the edges. With a gradient mask I masked out the end of the bar. The reflection was a layer copy of the wall with the neon signs flipped vertically on a very low opacity.

Adding smoke and light

Adding smoke and light really creates the right atmosphere I was looking for.
bar_bg_empty_smokeyThe smoke is added by creating a new layer, set the colors to default back and white (CTRL+D of CMD+D on a mac) then go to filters/render/clouds.
The whole layer will be filled with clouds.


Now select the rectangular marquee tool and pick a small part of the layer as a selection and copy your selection on a new layer by pressing CTR+J of CMD+J on a mac. You can now delete the rendered clouds layer so that you are left with only the small copied part.
Now resize this small part of the clouds to fit the complete image so that you have a zoomed in version of part of the rendered clouds.

clouds2Now adjust the blending mode of this layer to screen and place a black layer mask on the layer to hide all of it and paint with a soft large white brush set to 10% opacity on the places where you want to let smoke appear.
I did this render clouds process two times to create some depth by combining two different smoke layers.

Add some light on/in the smoke by creating a new layer on top of the smoke layers and set this layer to overlay blending mode and paint with a soft large white brush on the places where you want to have some more backlight.

For the last part place a cutout model on top of the bar. and some final touches, color grading, etc.

Making of “Big black dress”

The following video is a timelapse of the editing I did on the Big black dress photo. The photo consists of a background (hdr) photo I took in the “De Rotterdam” building. I combined this with a studio photograph of model Nisa. To make the dress I had my sweet assistant Vera hold and move a large black sheet in the studio while I took the photo’s.
The result image:
[singlepic id=282 w= h= float=center]

The making of video

Do you want to try such a project for yourself and you are interested in a bunch of hi-res images of the black sheets I used for this photograph then download them here. Non-commercial use only and a link back would be appreciated.
This file is a psd file for use in photoshop and contains different images each on its own layer. I have already made the images transparant, but that was a quick and dirty way, so you might want to finetune the masking here and there.

Cleaning up (white) seamless background

Everyone that shoots using a paper white seamless background will recognise the problems cleaning up spots and stains on the paper while retouching. Especially the floor will become dirty very quickly. Changing the paper very often is a way to avoid the stains and spots but can become an expensive task.
Take a look at a shot I made during a recent shoot. I cropped the image to only show the floor of the seamless background.
Seamless background dirty floorThis can take a long while to clean up by hand using the healing brush or clone stamp tool. I know I have been doing that for hours and hours in the past. Not a great way to fill up your day.

Another option to make life easier is to blow out the white background so the spots and stains won’t be as visible. But blowing out the background also means changing the image. Maybe you don’t want a blown out background, maybe you want the shadows to be visible. A seamless background that is completely blown out on the floor doesn’t really look good because your subject/model will seam to be floating in mid air.

My solution is very simple and super fast!
First of all I made a copy of the layer and in the filters menu I selected blur/surface blur.
surface blurPlay around with the radius and threshold until you can’t see the spots and stains in the preview. I used a radius of 20 and a threshold of 25 for this image.
Rendering the surface blur might take a couple of minutes depending on the performance of your computer.
Now all the spots and stains are gone, but so is all the detail. Time to add a layer mask and fill the mask with black to hide the effect. This way all the detail is visible again.
Now with a soft white brush with opacity set to around 60% paint (on the mask) on the floor. Don’t worry too much if you hit the shoes for a small bit because you won’t notice it when you go over the edges a small bit. Paint the harder spots and stains for a second time to make sure you can’t see them anymore.
maskAnd there you go. All the spots and stains are gone but shadows and detail in the shoes and pants is still there.
tut_seamless_postHope this trick will save you some time editing the seamless white backgrounds so you can spent your time on being creative.

Skin softening using dust & scratches

One of my first steps in retouching a female face is to soften the skin and remove blemishes without losing too much detail. A very simple way to do this is by using the “Dust & Scratches” filter in the filters menu in Photoshop under the category “noise”.
The best way to use this technique is to use it at a 100% zoom level to be able to really see the skin pores etc. Then select the “Dust & scratches” filter and drag the radius slider up until you see that the detail in the skin is lost.
softening skin 1Next drag the Threshold slider up while watching the preview until you see the fine detail in the skin again.

skin softening 2


Click on OK to apply the filter on the image. Of course we now lost a great amount of detail in areas like the lips and eyes. The filter should only be used on the skin so let’s create a layer mask and fill it with black to mask out the effect.
softening skin 3Now select the mask layer (the brackets must be around the layer instead of around the thumbnail of the image as seen is the image above) and paint with a soft brush set to white at 50% opacity on the skin parts where you want the skin softening effect.
Zoomed in you can really see the effect in action:
skin softening4 ds_ss5


After you are done the layer will look something like this:skin softening 6Next step is to remove blemishes in the skin. I always use a new layer for this part to be able to fix mistakes I make. So start by creating a new layer on top of the other layers and give it a recognisable name. I retouch a lot using the healing brush tool. Make sure you click “current & below in the options bar.
skin softening 7

Take your time to go over all the blemishes. This part may take you a long time. It’s a dull task that has to be done.
To make your life a little easier finding the blemishes you can add an “Black & White” adjustment layer as top layer. Drag the red an yellow sliders a bit to the left to really make the blemishes stand out.

skin softening 8Use this layer as a helper layer just to help you find all the blemishes you will want to remove. Just make sure the sample option in the options bar isn’t set to all layers while you do this. This way working on the retouch layer will retouch the image using the data of the layers underneath the retouch layer and not be affected by the black and white helper layer.
Afterwards remove the helper layer. and your retouch layer will look like this:
skin softening 9And the final result



Dodge & burn two passes

dodge & burn tutorial before and after
This time I would like to demonstrate my technique for dodging and burning when I retouch a photo. Typically I will come to this part of the retouching after removing blemishes etc.
To dodge & burn you can of course use the dodge & burn tools within photoshop and even when you click “protect tones” generally it will be a destructive way to edit the photo and the tones will change eventually.
To be able to dodge & burn in a non-destructive way makes fixing mistakes really easy. Also it becomes possible to adjust the opacity of the dodge & burn and you can apply a layer mask to it to mask out parts of the editing. I do this by making two different passes with two partial different ways to do the doge & burning.

First pass
I add a new layer on top of whatever layers you already have when you come to this point of the retouch and I fill this layer with 50% gray and set the layer style to “soft light”.
new_layer_pass1Then set the brush tool to white for dodging or set to black for burning.  Make sure you set the flow to around 05 (or use a pressure sensitive tablet) so that the dodging and burning is really subtle. Don’t worry if the effect is not enough, you can easily add more of the effect by making multiple strokes over the same area.
As you can see in the befor/after shot I moved the place the light hit the face of the model using this first pass.

Take your time doing this and don’t forget to walk away from the retouch for a few minutes (a few times) to make sure your eyes don’t adjust to the image to much.

Second pass
Above the first pass layer we add a new layer also filled with 50% gray, but this layer style is set to “overlay”
new_layer_pass2Now this time around I use the photoshop tools for Dodge and Burn. With the exposure of the dodge tool set to around 5 and the exposure for the burn tool set a little higher around 8 I fine-tune the dodge and burn to add highlights in the hair, eyes and so on. I also use this layer to make small color adjustments by using the eyedropper tool to select the right color and with a brush on very low opacity paint some of this color on the image. In this example I used this to add a little bit more color to the hair of the model.
The second pass I use for fine-tuning the whole dodging and burning effect.


With tis technique for dodging and burning it’s really easy to fix mistakes. Just change the blend mode to “normal” and paint the mistake in with 50% gray to fix the mistake. Or you can use a layer mask of course to mask out parts of the layer.
If the effect is to hard you can dial it down a bit by lowering the opacity.

Making of “Troubled Road”

This won’t be a tutorial, but I will will show you how I made “Troubled Road” by doing a walk thru. This image is part of “The Road” project. A project where I will make use of a piece of road and tell a couple of stories that take place on that road.

The road itself is a photo I downloaded from A really great website for getting images you can use in your own projects. You can find the photo here.
Also the power poles and the Ford Mustang came from that website.
The sky (also used for the mist) and both models I photographed in the studio.
troubled road blog sky

First of I started work on the road. Adjusted the contrast and made the concrete a lot darker.
Troubled Road Blog RoadThe next step was adding the mist. I used the sky photo for this by duplicating the layer a few times and flipping it both horizontal as vertical. Put the blend mode on screen on all the layers. This way only the lighter parts of the sky photo will be visible. I finetuned this part by drawing with a soft brush and low opacity with a white color on the parts where I wanted the mist to be a little thicker.
Troubled Road Blog MistThis will not be all the mist, because I will be adding more mist later on that needs to be on top of the layers with the car and the power poles and cables.
Next I added two layers withe the sky image. One of those layers is flipped, just to add some extra highlighted areas in the image. I adjusted the color balance to add a bit of blue in the whole image and added some more mist/fog by adjusting the exposure of the mist.
troubled road blog sky addedBy now the background is done, so let start adding some of the foreground parts by starting with the Ford Mustang. I manually added the part of the hood that is missing in the source photo, adjusted the size, made a cut-out and placed it in the left corner of the image.
troubled road blog white mustangNext I changed the color of the car with a gradient map on the color blend mode and made the orange a bit deeper by using an exposure adjustment layer. Also I painted a bit of the same orange color on the road as a very light reflection with a low opacity soft brush.
troubled road blog mustang orangeNext I added the pwerpoles on the right on blend mode “darken” to only use the dark parts with an hue/saturation adjustment layer set to desaturate to loose all the color. I made a few copies of the layer for the second and third pole and used different parts of the layer by masking the rest out. The cabled where drawn by hand by clicking with a hard brush set to black on the first pole then while holding the shift key clicking on the second pole to create a straight line. With the warp tool I pulled the cables a bit down in the middle and with the perspective tool I made the cables thinner in the distant. Also I adjusted the opacity in the distance to make the cables and poles a bit more realistic in the mist.
troubled road blog power poles

Next I hand drawn the power cables and used blending option bevel and emboss to give them a 3d look. Also I added some more mist but this time allowing it in front of the poles and the car to give the mist some more depth.
troubled road blog start cables

Now we need some models to let the scene come to life! So let’s start with adding Nick in the image. I already did all the retouching and the cut-out on Nick before bringing him over to this image. I added lot’s of detail to him, cleaned up the skin and used dodge & burning to highlight his muscles, eyes, etc.
troubled road blog NickNext I want to jumpstart cabled to spark. I did that with a custum brush and added some flares and light effects on an overlay blend mode.
troubled road blog sparks

Next I added the other model Kimberley. I also did all the retouching and the cutout before bringing her over to this image. Sadly Kimberley did not fit the height of the car So I used the puppet warp tool to make her lean onto the car as you can read in my previous blog post.
troubled road blog KimberleyNow all the parts are in place, so let’s start with the final part of the composite by doing the final touches. I added some tonal contrast (plug in), darkened the whole image with an exposure adjustment layer, added a gradient map (blue orange) on multiply blend mode to give the color an overall mood. This also helps to get all the pieces glued together better. And finally I added some vignette to the image

The final result:

[singlepic id=227 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Hope you liked seeing my workflow on an image like this. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or leave a reply on this page.

Puppet Warp

A small and fast tutorial to show you how to use the Puppet Warp tool in Photoshop.

When combining elements in a composite photo, not always everything fits exactly like you want it to fit. For example the model in this image is shot in the studio. I can’t fit a car in my small studio, so I made a cut-out of the model and made a composite with this nice car. As you can see this doesn’t really fit.
Puppet Warp StartLuckily the model is a cut-out so I can adjust her pose using the Puppet Warp tool in Photoshop.
First select the layer where the cut-out of the model is on. Then from the menu select “edit” and then “Puppet Warp”. You will see a wire-frame like this:
Puppet Warp WireframeNow we have to add pins on the joints of the model. I want her to lean over against the car so I want to adjust her from her hip.
To make sure her legs won’t be adjusted I place a pin on both her knees. Then I place a pin on her hip. The exact location is important since this is the spot where most of the adjustment is going to take place. A little trial and error will probably give you the perfect spot.
Next I place a pin on her hands so I have a pin to pull down towards the car.
Puppet Warp pinsIt’s a little hard to see the pins in the image, but if you look closely to her hip, hands and both her knees you see a small black dot on all the places I put a pin.

Next you pull down the pin on her hand until her pose is adjusted to your liking.
Puppet Warp pins adjustedPress “Enter” to finalise the Puppet Warp and you’re done!

Double RAW Converting Technique tutorial

The Double RAW Converting Technique

I really love to have to most detail as possible in my images. Especially when I am making a composite I need a lot of detail because in my workflow I will eventually loose a lot of detail.
To get the best results doing this we will need a RAW photo to start with. It will also work with JPG’s but the results are not as impressive.
In this tutorial I use this technique on a photo of a male model shot in the studio, but it also works great on other types of photographs like landscapes, etc.
This technique which I learned from Calvin Hollywood, will give you a great way to add detail to your images.

Step 1.
Open the RAW in photoshop as an smart object from lightroom or open it in Adobe Camera Raw and hold the shift key. The “Open Image” button now changes to “Open Object”. Click on it to open the file as a smart object.
Open Smart Object in Photoshop

Step 2.
In the layers panel you can see the smart object sign on the bottom right of the thumbnail of the image.
smart object thumbRight-click the layer and select “New Smart Object via Copy”. This will make another smart object of the same image. Do not just duplicate the layer because that way the next step won’t work.
The layers panel will look like this:
Two Smart ObjectsStep 3.
Now on the top layer, double click on the thumbnail itself. Don’t double click the layer text, just the icon. This will open the Adobe Camera Raw screen again. This is where the magic of this technique is done. Because we made a new copy of the smart-object we can adjust this new smart object with it’s own settings in Adobe Camera RAW.
– First drag the saturation slider all the way down to -100%.
The next settings depend on your image, but I usually adjust more or less around the same way, just with different numbers.
– I pull up the Clarity a lot. The Clarity will give way more detail and sharpness (I used 77).
– Next I pull down the contrast to compensate for the high amount of clarity (I used -16).
– The highlights I pull down and the shadows I pull up. Usually I pull up around the same amount for shadows as I pull down for highlight. In this particular case I pulled down the highlights a little more because the photo has a lot of highlights.( I used -64 for highlights and +53 for the shadows)
If the photo is a little over or underexposed I compensate a little with the white and black sliders. In this case that wasn’t necessary.
Settings Smart ObjectWhen you’re done click on OK.

Step 4.
Your image is now a nice black and white photo, so now we need to bring back the color by adjusting the blend mode of the black and white layer to “Luminosity”.
Blending mode Luninosity

As you can see this brings back the color. You might want to fine-tune now by again double clicking on the thumbnail if your not pleased yet.

The end result is a much sharper image with much more detail. Of course you can bring down the Opacity of the layer to bring down the effect on the image or use a layer-mask to add this technique to just part of the image.
Before & After the Double RAW Converting

Tutorials & Language change

I am still busy working on the website. Besides a different design (which will probably still take a while) I want to add some new functionality. This new functionality will be the addition of tutorials on photography and on photo-editing.
Expect not only tutorials on my style of retouching, compositing using photoshop but also on the studiowork that goes with them.

Up until now the website was written in the Dutch language because I figured my audience would probably only be Dutch. The addition of tutorials will probably attract a more international audience, so I decided to change the language of the website to English.
Of course this is a lot of work, so this won’t be done straight away. Please give me some time to change all pages and to start publishing the tutorials. In the mean time you can suggest tutorials you would like me to make.

In the mean time, here is a timelapse video I made ealier.

Speed retouch

De afgelopen week heb ik gewerkt aan de foto’s van Jannet. In onderstaand filmpje kan je de bewerking van een foto zien. Dit geeft een mooi beeld hoe een bewerking eruit kan zien en wat het voor een verschil maakt. De bewerkingen zijn in dit geval vrij simpel.
– als eerste stap zorg ik voor meer details in de foto
– de huid maak ik wat gladder
– oneffenheden, moedervlekjes, rimpeltjes iets minder aanwezig maken
– ogen oplichten
– met dodge & burn wat lichteffecten op de huid schilderen
– het haar wat meer diepte geven
– als laatste stap wat verschillende filters geprobeerd om tot het eindresultaat te komen. In deze stap probeer ik verschillende dingen om te kijken wat wel en wat niet bij deze specifieke foto werkt. Dit is vaak het leukste deel van de bewerking.

Het eindresultaat: