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Sharpen & Add Grain in Alien Skin

Lesson 41 from: Powerful Portraits using Mirrorless Cameras

Miguel Quiles

Sharpen & Add Grain in Alien Skin

Lesson 41 from: Powerful Portraits using Mirrorless Cameras

Miguel Quiles

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Lesson Info

41. Sharpen & Add Grain in Alien Skin


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What is a Mirrorless Camera?


Mirrorless Camera Advantages


Mirrorless Compatibility


Live Shoot: Mirrorless vs. DSLR


Live Shoot: A7R II, A6300 & A7ii


Compare Mirrorless & DSLR Images


Posing Techniques Overview


Lesson Info

Sharpen & Add Grain in Alien Skin

So, I'm gonna select those two Alien Skin adjustment layers because, as you can see here, it's made the file 1.27 gigs, so now it's a biggin. So, now I'm gonna right-click after I selected those three, and I'm gonna merge the layers. So, instead of there being three layers, there'll be one layer all merged together, which drops it from 1.27 to 1.02 gigs, so we're getting a little bit better. This particular layer down here, we technically could get rid of it because it's not serving a purpose, because we now have this new adjusted layer above it. So, I'm actually gonna go ahead and delete that 'cause we don't really need it. So, let's look at we have so far. Let's go to Background. We'll go to before, then after. So, that's where we're at so far in our retouching process. And now, let's say if you want to sharpen specific parts of the image, so there's a lot ways to sharpen, just like there's a lot of ways to dodge and burn, all right, but I'm gonna show you a way that you could basica...

lly take any Alien Skin adjustment and localize it to any part of the image. So, in this case we're gonna do it with sharpening, but you could do it with color. You could do it with grain. You could do it with whatever. So, we're gonna go back again to Filter, Alien Skin, Exposure X2. And we're gonna reset, because again, it's gonna give kind of like the same adjustment. And in this case, you see what's happened here with the opacity? It actually merged the lower opacity of that one layer with the others, so now you can kind of see how it's transparent. That's not good. So, we're gonna Ctrl+Z here, let's go back. Step Backwards, Step Backwards, all right. So, for the sake of this class, I'm just gonna go ahead, we're gonna merge those, and then I'm gonna take that to Alien Skin Exposure X2. We're gonna have a big file. It's just the way it's gonna be. All right, so we'll reset this. And so, what I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna go to Focus, and I'm gonna select Sharpen-Low Radius. I'm gonna zoom into this image, and it's gonna sharpen everything. There's gonna be parts of this image that look like it's like super fried, you know, it's not what you want ideally speaking, but there's certain areas of the image where the sharpening actually ends up looking pretty good. Sometimes on the lips it looks great. In this case her eyes are brown. If you're photographing a blue eyed person, or green eyed, or a light colored eye person, when you sharpen the eye, it ends up looking really awesome, but then on the rest of the skin it looks crazy. So, here's what we're gonna do, we're just gonna hit Apply, and it's gonna go ahead and make that basically new layer that's like super crispy, we'll call it an extra crispy layer. And once that comes through, what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna use the same technique that I did for dodge and burn, where I basically add a mask to this image, and I'm gonna hide that sharpened layer under a mask. All right, so here's what we do, you click on this little mask icon down here. It's a little rectangle with the circle, and that adds a white mask to the image. And if you remember, white basically means you can see all of the adjustment, but if I go ahead and I CMD+I, it hides that super crispy layer under a black mask. So, you can see if I turn it off and on, it is no longer sharp like it used to be. So, how do I bring back the sharpness, and how do I selectively put it in a different part of the image? Well, if I brush with a white color chosen on that black mask, I can go ahead now, and I could sharpen specific parts of the image just by brushing that sharpness into the image. So, let's see, on the lips, and actually the flow is at 3%, so if you ever see that you brush, and it didn't do anything, just bring it up to 100. You can go ahead, and you can selectively go over the entire image and brush in that adjustment. That could have been a color. That could have been sharpness. That could have been grain. Any of the Alien Skin adjustments that you could have made, you basically do it the same way where you make that adjustment, you hide it under a mask, and then you kind of scan through the image, and you can selectively go and sharpen different areas. So, let's say for example, I don't wanna add the full amount of sharpening that I did, so I can change the opacity and the flow, and that way when I brush over, say like an area like this, I can sharpen it, and it's not gonna give that full 100% adjustment that was there originally in that layer. I can minimize it or increase it by adjusting the opacity and the flow of the actual brush. So, it could be, for example, that brushing in some of the sharpness on the skin, maybe I'll do something like, let's go 10 for the Flow, and let's go 10 for Opacity, so it's a very, very soft brush here. And basically I can brush in the sharpness over the skin, and start to add even more detail. So, this is how I get kind of that very sharp kind of HD type of look that I talk about with my shots. I can selectively brush in the sharpness over different parts of the image. So, let's go back here, and let's see from a distance before and after. And again, if you turn this thing off and on, and you see a big difference, if you can see the sharpening from one to the other when you turn it off and on, you went too far. Every single adjustment layer should be very, very minimal. If I go back to the first layer, now we should see a little more of a difference, because we'll go before and after. So, now you start to see a little bit more, and I'll zoom in here a little tiny bit. We'll go to this area, and we'll go before. Let's go here. Before. After. So, you can see what we've done. We've added a little bit of detail by sharpening parts of the skin, but we did it in a very controlled way where we can adjust the opacity and the flow of the brush, and brush that in selectively wherever we need it. So sometimes, kind of some real world scenarios of how I would use that, sometimes I like one preset for a majority of the image except for the skin tone. Other times I like another preset, and I don't like the color for the rest of it, but I love just the skin tone that the preset is adding, so I'll select that particular preset, add a mask to it, and then I'll take my brush, and I'll brush in just the skin. Just the areas like the nose and basically all of the skin, so that that way, that preset is only being applied to just the skin. Then I'll add another preset, and let's say that the skin doesn't look right, but the background, the hair, the clothes, all the colors for that look great. Well, I just go ahead, and I use the same mask that I just did, and I invert it, so that basically the skin tone is not being affected. Now, everything else that was not selected is being affected by that preset. I'm pretty cool with how this looks. One last thing that I sometimes do when I'm at the very end of my process here, is if I want to do a last minute check of like what would different colors look like, I go back to that Color Balance layer, I add a new layer, and sometimes I'll kind of play around with changing these sliders a tiny bit. Let's do a before and after. So, I just dropped the Midtones, I went a little more towards the Cyan side, and it kind of took away some of the warmth in the skin. And let me look at this a little closer 'cause this is how I go through toning and kind of coloring my images. Sometimes at the very end, especially if you've been working on an image for awhile, your eyes get tired and you're like, good enough, but as a last step I add thatcolor balance, and I'll play around with it. And I'm actually finding that I like this better than I like this. So from here, for me, it's done. Like the image is completely done.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Miguel's Exposure X2 Alien Skin Presets

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

I want to commend you for hosting Miguel Quiles. He is beyond competent and knowledgeable. Light is Light, but It is encouraging to see incredible minority photographers on your platform and to see diversity in the presenters. It is inspirational for minorities to see themselves on the center stage. I sincerely thank you for that. I am buying this course although I am not a mirrorless shooter because of my support of Miguel and the quality of his instruction of which benefits all photographers. He is a great addition to the Creative Live Family of Presenters that I have supported as well. Kudos Creative Live!

Danae Khan Jones

Wow! As a Newb and someone looking to get into portrait/studio photography, this course was perfect and comprehensive. SO MUCH GOOD CONTENT. Miguel is so approachable about questions, positive, and thorough in his explanations. This course broke down the gear and technical side very well. I recommend going to a class live. It was a great experience with food and beautiful facilities. The facility has a positive vibe and really encouraged me to be creative. Thank you for the experience and knowledge!


WOW!!! I LOVED THIS CLASS!!! I learned so much. He made lighting soooo simple, I finally understood. I liked the way he explained the why of his camera settings and how to overcome ambient light. he explained and made everything simple!!! I liked the way he talked about connecting with your clients. I am so happy I purchased this class. I finally understood lighting What a great teacher!! Thank you!!

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