Monday, December 13, 2010

Tutorial: Adding Catchlights!

Hi everyone! I have a great tutorial here to add a little oomph to your pictures before adding them to your layouts! Catchlights are the reflection in the eye of a light source. Catchlights can be from the sky, flash of a camera, even a TV screen; they add depth and dimension to the eyes in any photo. A little bit of glimmer can add so much more and even add a little sensitivity, beauty, life, inner emotion, ormostly in my personal case, mischief! Here is how to add catchlights to a photo:

Step #1: Open your photo. Zoom into a comfortable level to complete the re-touching. Some people like 200%, while I like to be even closer at about 300%.

Step #2: Create a New Layer above your photo by doing the following. Choose Layer; New Layer.

Step #3: Select a small, soft-edged Paintbrush. For my examples I used brushes that were sized between 5 and 18, and with 0% hardness.

Step #4: Set the foreground color to White or if that is too stark for you, try a shade of grey.

Step #5: Lower the Opacity of the brush to 10-20%. I start lower and then I can adjust as I go along.

Step #6: Brush just above and to the left or right of the iris to mimic a catchlight. If there is a small light in the eye in the 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock area of the eye, broaden and lighten that specific spot.

Step #7: This is optional. Create another New Layer. Paint another highlight opposite the main catchlight at reduced Opacity 5% or less, but you can always up the percentage to get your desired look. The second highlight will help reinforce the translucence of the eye. 

Complete the above steps to the other eye.

Some Examples -- with my 2 year old, Colin!




By working on separate layers, you maintain control of both Opacity and Blending modes, as well as preserve your original image since you can always delete the additional layers if you don't like the result.

Experiment with shapes, softness, and opacity. Be subtle. Remember, catchlights come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the shape and size of the light source, and its distance from the subject. There are no hard rules regarding catchlights! They are without a doubt a matter of personal taste and preference. Have fun experimenting with your photos!
You can get great articles like this one every month!  I wrote this one for the ScrapMatters Newsletter, which you can sign up for: Here!

Have a great day!

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