Attention to Highlights Will Make Your Textured Photograph Shine

Back when I taught Hand Coloring, I always emphasized how important highlights are. Cleaning up the highlights in an image can make the difference between an OK image and an image that comes to life. Note: I’ve stopped using mouse hovers for the Before / After as they do not work on touch devices such as iPads.

Rose Image After

Final image with adjustments.


Rose Image Before

Image before adjustments

Hand-coloring is a lot like using textures. In Hand-coloring, we would rub color over the photograph and then rub it off where we didn’t want it. The same holds true for textures. We cover our image with texture and then we brush off what we don’t want with a Layer Mask. I wanted to keep some of the brush strokes over the glass jar, so I lightly brushed with a large brush tip, and then cleaned up the spectral highlights with a small brush tip.

Detail Before

Detail before adjustments.

Detail After

Detail after adjustments.

Here’s the Layer Mask view. Note how I’ve gone over the highlight areas with a finer brush tip.

Layer Mask

Layer Mask

The Layer Panel And A Few Details

Rather than give a detailed account of the adjustments in this image, I’m going to show you the layer panel and point out the more interesting details. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Details of Note:

  • One of my favorite tricks is duplicating a texture layer and setting the Blend Mode to Normal. I can get a concentrated texture effect. I brush away enough of the texture from the important part of the image with a layer mask so that it mostly affects the textured area.
  • I also used a levels adjustment layer to add blue to the highlights. I felt the warm color cast of the texture was dulling the highlights. Notice how I used a layer mask to retain the warmth of the color in the outer areas of the texture.

Layer Panel

Texture Resource

Charmante is available in the l’Artiste Collection

Charmante Texture


Overlay Available in Tour Eiffel 1903 Ephemera & Overlays

, , , , ,

8 Responses to Attention to Highlights Will Make Your Textured Photograph Shine

  1. Lyne Nagele February 14, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    Love the tips. Excuse me for my ignorance but how and where do you add a blue layer. I could use a little clarification on that. Thanks

    • Leslie Nicole February 14, 2012 at 7:57 am #

      Hi Lyne,
      Thanks for your question! See the layer that’s 3rd down in the layer panel? That’s a Level’s Adjustment Layer. I selected the Blue channel and pulled the highlights to the right a little bit, thus adding Blue to the highlights (or you can also think of it as subtracting yellow). I have a tutorial on using adjustment layers if you aren’t familiar with them. Would it be helpful for me to do a little tutorial about using Levels?

      • lyne nagele February 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

        Thank you!!!

  2. teresa February 14, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    Leslie you’ve been so generous in sharing these wonderful tips with us all . . . thank you so much for this . . .x
    teresa recently posted..Happiness is . . . . . . . .

  3. Kathleen June 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Hallo Leslie, thanks for your great work you show everybody, what helps us develop our on style. Just one very important question for me: I use photoshop elements. I´m very used with the applying of layers, adjustments and so on. The only thing is, I can´t find a way to brush off the colour in a layer mask. There are a lot of other tools for layer mask, where you can higlight, darken oder colour the isolated areas.But: textures stays still there. However, I have never found a way to rub off the area like you always do. Maybe you know the answer. I just thought about the fact, that elements does not have that application. It really narrows my possibilities and limits the fruits of my work. Thank you et a bientot, Kathleen

  4. Kathleen June 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Me again: I have just found your starter tutorial and worked it out step by step, so I got the solution. I recognized where I made my mistake, so it couldn´t work. Although elements offers limited possibilies I can do the most of what you show in the tutorial with the same applications. Just one thing left: In step four in the starter kit you explain: “If you go too far and want to apply less mask, just switch your color to white and paint over those areas of the mask that you want to diminish.” Where can I adjust the colour for diminishing in the layer mask? What do I have to proceed?

    Thanks again and sorry for so much question, yesterday and today…

    • Leslie Nicole June 23, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Hi Kathleen,
      If you go too far taking away the texture, change the color in the color picker to white. (Note: the keyboard shortcut is “d” to make the color picker the default and then “x” to change it to white in the foreground.) Then with the brush, just brush over the image areas that you want to bring back the texture. Changing the opacity of the brush will determine how much of the effect you put on or take off. Also, it depends on what version of Elements you have. Older versions didn’t have layer masking options. I’m going to do a video tutorial using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements next month. (Busy working on a new texture collection this month.) Thanks for your questions.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes