Adobe Photoshop: Dramatic photos in no time

We all have hundreds of photos on the calculator and do not know what to do with them. Often, just a few steps in Photoshop are enough to turn a good shot into an extraordinary photo. We give three examples and encourage you to try them out. So you come in a few steps to interesting variants of your best pictures.

teaser-photo effects

Photo Effect # 1: Soft lights

Especially with portraits in nature, a soft, magical and warm mood can be the right implementation for the photo. Learn from a good photo to develop a variant that shows more warmth. In doing so, a few levels of adjustment are used.

Girl on a bike in the countryside / # 137648174 / Masson

01 gradation curves

For a first color change, go to the menuLayer> New adjustment layer> Gradation curves, overRGBdo you have the possibility to call up the individual channels? There you choose firstredon. Pull the bottom grip point to the right side, leaving the top grip point in place, but making sure that the curve gets a slight upward bow.

in theGreen Channeldo you slightly increase the contrast? You can achieve this by generating an indicated S-curve. in theblue channeldo you pull the lower handle a little upwards. The shadow areas are so bluish, the lights yellowish.


02 Course implementation

Go to the menuLevel> New setting level> History conversion, Create a history from # 002255 (0, 34, 85) to # ffaa33 (RGB 255, 170, 51). Set the blending mode of this layerHard lightaround and reduce the opacity to about 14%. Copy the layer withCtrl + Jand change the blending modeTo multiply negativefrom. The opacity you set to about 30%. Of course, these values vary depending on the image content.


03 color balance

It followsLayer> New adjustment layer> Color Balance, Here you can regulate the depths, midtones and lights of the colors in a targeted manner, to intensify the blue tones even further in the depths and to increase the yellow tones in the lights.


04 Light thanks to colors

A nice effect is when you use a hue to draw “light” in the picture. Create a new level, aboutShift + Ctrl + N, Set the blending modeTo multiply negativeum and paint with thebrush, a very soft tool tip and a yellow tone, the light from one side.


05 dust in the air

Or on the lens … For some dust, you create a new level anyway and fill it with white paint. Go on thenFilter> Noise Filter> Add Noise, Monochromatic should be activated and the strength should be above 250%.


Go onFilter> Filter Galleryand activate theArt filter> Spongewith brush size: 3, texture: 25 and smoothing: 5. It follows theCharacter filter> Stampwith light / dark balance: 40 and smoothing: 9.

Turn thatGaussian Blurwith a radius of 7 pixels. ToLayer> New adjustment layer> Hue / Saturationdo you go on in the menuLayer> Create clipping mask, activateTo dyeand set a yellow tone. This additionally dyes the dust particles.


Photo Effect # 2: Interesting black and white realization

If the color of a recording is removed, the photo is missing something. But thanks to a targeted image editing, you can give something back to it and that’s a certain drama in a black and white version, achieved through tougher contrasts and that certain something.

Portrait of a beautiful steampunk woman # 166891430 / Kiselev Andrey Valerevich

01 Neutralize

Since we want to determine quite specifically how the contrasts in the image are distributed, we neutralize the initial image first with the following steps: Copy the layer overCtrl + J, turn that overFilters> Blur> Gaussian Blurwith a radius of about 8 pixels, pressCtrl + Ito turn around andShift + Ctrl + Ufor decolorizing. Reduce opacity by 50%. The picture is now more neutral, we now have everything else in our hands. The principle is not dissimilar to the use of depths / lights, but here we get the desired result easier.


02 black and white with contrast

Go to the menuLayer> New adjustment layer> Black and Whiteand adjust the controls of the individual color range so that the achromatic version is implemented beautifully contrast rich. You can also activate the tool to direct left and right motion in the image to determine how the black and white transformation works.

For a targeted intervention you create a new levelShift + Ctrl + N, set the blending modeOverlayand activateFill with neutral color, Now draw specifically with theDodgeTool lights on, with theBurnTool shadow. In the options bar you can adjust the size, softness and opacity of the tools.


03 Add dirt

For a bit more dirt in the picture, you create a new layer and pressDon the keyboard, for the standard colors black and white. ToFilter> Render Filter> Cloudsdo you turn thatRender filter> Difference cloudson. Set the blending modeOverlayaround and reduce the opacity to about 70%. Click on in the menuLayer> Layer Mask> Show Alland use the created maskRender filter> cloudson.


04 Colored light

You can easily draw in colored light when it suits the motif. On another level, the screen was highlighted here in light blue color. The blending method was onTo multiply negativechanged. On another level, a selection followed with thePolygonal lasso toolin a star shape to this with theGradient tool, a course from white to transparent and radial gradient was filled.

Ctrl + Dpicks up the selection, theGaussian Blurmakes for a smooth transition. Important is still the filling methodOverlayfor the light effect.


05 Finest details

pressuresShift + Ctrl + Alt + Eto drop all levels (as reduced) to a new level. pressuresCtrl + Jand select the two layers while holding down the Ctrl key in the Layers panel. pressuresCtrl + Gto group these levels. The blending mode of the group will now openOverlaychanged. Open the group. You set the blending mode of the lower level to Normal, the upper level you change toShining lightfrom. pressuresCtrl + Ito invert.

Turn now theFilter> Blur> Matteron. Smaller values provide for finer details, coarse values for larger contrast gradients in the picture. That’s why I copied the group here once and was thus able to implement a small value in one group and a much greater value in the other group. In combination, you get a very nice contrast combination in the photo.


Photo Effect # 3: Fairytale Forest

In Germany it is quite easy to discover a dark, cold forest, which in the morning, thanks to fog, creates a mystical atmosphere. So practically anyone can take such a picture. But what to do with it? We show how a normal forest photograph turns into a fairytale version.

path / # 101562784 / andreiuc88 & Gold glittering / # 104344673 / Ron Dale

Implement 01 colors

A mystical forest is certainly much more colorful than the gloomy German forest. Create a new layer and change the blending modeOverlayfrom. The opacity is reduced to 65%. With a shade of blue here was the edge of the forest with thebrushand painted over with a soft tool tip. In the middle, the complementary orange color was used. Even this slight change leads to a completely different impression.


02 glitter and vignette

If you want to move the viewer’s gaze further into the middle, create another layer and paint with black paint and a big, very soft onebrusha vignette. The layer-covering force controls the strength of the conversion.

If you like, you can now use this image as the basis for a composition. As a quick example, here’s some glitter on a black background, and this one with the blending modeTo multiply negativecalculated into the picture.


(The post first appeared in February 2014 and has been kept up to date since then, with the last update in April 2019.)

(Post picture ofKordula Vahleonpixabay)