PhotoShop Trick: Lightening An Area


Discovered my first original technique and had to share.

The problem I had was Sarah’s face was a little dark under the rim of her hat in the picture. It would be nice to just lighten that area. Could have used Channels, Level, or Shadows, but that would have effected the whole image.

Before After

I have a lightening technique I’ve used before where I create an empty layer, paint brush in solid white where I want lightening, then set the layer’s opacity way low until it just glows a little. Problem is it effects every thing painted equally.

Robert Sanders taught a method of darkening the edges of a picture to us at BOTB2. He also mentioned you could user Overlay to make an image darker and Lighten to make it lighter. So I thought of this variation and it worked great.

1. Make a duplicate layer of the image.

2. Set Layer popup to Screen.

This will way lighten the whole image.

3. Now create a layer mask for the layer.

Holding the alt/option key down will fill it with white, making all of the layer disappear.

4. Now use the brush tool to paint in the layer mask.

I set the brush opacity to 20% and paint the area you want lightened. This will let some of the lightened layer come through. Since it is based on the actual image it doesn’t lighten everything exactly the same.

This gives you a lot of control over how much and where the lightening occurs. If you make a mistake, switch the brush to black and paint over your mistake. You can play with opacity.

One caveat was it can leave harsh edges. In my case I just ended it at the hair and jawline, so the harsh edge works. You may want to mess with the brush settings.

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