Digital Cosmetics

If you are over sixty, you probably do not like to have your picture taken. Older faces are prime victims to harsh lighting, deep shadows, sharp lenses and unforgiving close ups. You probably look fine at night with candle light on your face but once your grand daughter shows up with her digital camera, your pleasant image is history. Arcsoft, Adobe and Corel all image editors with the necessary tools.

There are a few measures you can take to alleviate the situation. One is to insist on a full length shot far enough away to produce a small and indistinct face. Another is to slather on the make up and hope for the best. Finally, you can beg to be out of the picture. This last punishes you as well as your loved ones and makes one look vain.

A favorite picture of you that everyone likes can be improved digitally quite easily. It just requires a little effort on the photographer's part to familiarize yourself with the necessary tools and methods.

Starting at the top, there are stray hairs and dark roots ruining the hair dew. Stray hair is easily cloned out of existence by copying the adjacent area with a feathered clone stamp set at fifty per cent transparency. Dark roots require cloning an area of ​​the hair of the proper color and running in the same direction if straight. I recommend a thirty per cent transparency using multiple passes for a realistic effect. Work at the highest enlargement of the working area that fits on your screen.

Shiny foreheads are tricky, but can often be improved with a touch of the disturb brush. Set the brush at medium strength and at fifty per cent transparency. Place the size at twice the area of ​​the highlight and feather at 100%. Do not try to darken the area but a fill fill with the air brush will do wonders. Use the eye dropper to choose an adjacent skin color and fill in the highlight at three per cent transparency.

Blemishes will disappear using the clone at seventy per cent transparency, copying from a near by unblemished area of ​​skin. At eighty five per cent transparency, drag the clone over the bags under the eyes for a younger look. Do not over do this effect.

The whites of the eyes can be lightened if done carefully. Outline the whites of the eyes with the dotted line mask and make an object of the masked areas. In the brightness / contrast box click on the brightness once at three per cent. Do not try to make any other adjustments to this area of ​​the eyes. It is possible to open the eyes somewhat but the method is quite advanced. If there is no highlight in the eye, you can place one with a two or three pixel brush using a light warm gray color. A round 100% feathered shape is normal or a crescent shape for an out of doors picture. If the highlight looks too prominent you can use the softener brush to dull it down without removing it.

Teeth often come out dark and yellowish in digital photographs. Draw a dotted circle around the teeth and using the brightness / contrast box, lighten the teeth at five per cent strength and change the color balance with a three per cent magenta adjustment. Crooked teeth can be fixed by reverse cloning a good tooth from the other side of the mouth. However, this method requires a little practice and advanced training to be successful.

Too pale skin can be corrected by using the histogram center arrow. Slide this arrow slightly to the right for darker skin. Conversely, sliding it to the left will darken the middle tones for a simulated sun tan. The ends of the histogram representing the whites (right side) and blacks (left side) remain attached to the extreme ends.

There are other effects that will improve the face. The softening brush used judiciously will smooth the skin, the soft focus filter has the same effect but might be too strong a result. The color balance can be used to warm up the face by masking the face and head and adjusting the color balance two per cent yellow and two per cent red. If the effect is too noticeable, try one per cent. Remember blemishes, windy conditions and dark shadows are temporary conditions. A photograph is forever.