I followed one of his tutorials on how to soften and sharpen a portrait. Check out the picture of Desiree I used from our New Year's Eve party. The before and after difference is really dramatic.
Here's how he does it:
- Create a copy of your background layer.
- On the copy, go to Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur. Set it to 25 pixels.
- Lower the opacity of the new blurred out layer to 50%. Later we'll bring it down to about 35%.
- Hold down the option key (PC: Alt) and click the "add mask button" on the bottom of your Layers window. Holding the option key creates a black mask that hides the layer.
- With the newly created black mask selected, select the brush tool and use a medium sized "fuzzy" brush to paint in the areas you want softened. I painted in cheeks and shoulders; basically any skin that wasn't lips, hair, eyes or nostrils.
- Lower the layer opacity to 35%.
- Press Command+Option+Shift+E to create a flattened layer copy of your current visible layers. (Essentially flattening your image into a new layer while preserving your existing layers).
- Select the layer from step 7 and copy it.
- On the new copied layer, run sharpening. For female portraits, Scott uses unsharp mask with values of 120%, radius: 1.0, and threshold: 3.
- Hold option while clicking the new layer mask button. This gives you a black mask that hides the layer again.
- Use the brush to paint in the areas that you want sharpened. I painted in eyes, lips, nostrils and hair.
(Note: I also applied mild color correction to the "After" photo.)