photoshop creative

Create a soft glow effect

Posted in:
Magazine, by The Photoshop Creative Team
May 16, 2011

Give your portraits a studio look by applying a soft glow effect

Sometimes we need a little help to give portraits that professional edge, and you will be glad to hear that studio-quality shots are simple with some editing magic in Photoshop. Certain photographs, like our example, can be improved with the addition of soft diffused techniques to give them a look of old-fashioned Hollywood glamour. However, as this style has very strong associations, not all pictures will lend themselves to the softened effect. If you are aiming for an image with a harsh, dynamic edge, then adding blur and diffuse glow will not produce suitable results. Make sure you are working with the correct type of image when applying the effects in this tutorial for the best results.

It is important not to overdo the blurring when softening an image or it can begin to look unnatural. You will also find that detail is lost in areas such as the eyes, lips and any jewellery. This can be brought back with the help of layer masks by simply painting the detail back in using the Brush tool. This guide not only explains how to soften a portrait and add a diffused glow, but it also touches on introducing coloured layers to adjust the overall shade and feel of the image. If you are aiming for a piece with more punch you can still use this tutorial, however it may be best not to add the coloured layers detailed in the final few steps in that case. Be experimental with this effect and adjust the various techniques to suit the specific photograph you are working from.

This is an excerpt from a tutorial in issue 74 of Photoshop Creative. To read more, visit and order your copy today!