A Glamorous Photoshop Tutorial

In this tutorial, you'll see how I edit a modern glamour portrait in Photoshop. Learn how to correct skin, extend backgrounds, contour the body and face using the dodge and burn tools, apply skin smoothing filters using Aperture Portraiture, and use Alien Skin Exposure 4 for a fine-art look. 

You'll also get a look at my workflow, beginning with Lightroom, into Photoshop, and back to Lightroom to keep the editing as non-destructive as possible.

Follow along with this full-sized PDF Guide to view detailed setting information.

In this tutorial, Utah Glamor Portrait Photographer, Emily London, will teach how to edit a modern glamour portrait in Photoshop.

Step 1: Adjustments in Lightroom

Correct Exposure and White Balance, make necessary color adjustments and sharpen as desired.

These are my default settings, which I have saved as a preset that is automatically applied to all my images during import. (With the exceptions of Exposure and White Balance, which I manually adjust based on each image). 

Open the image in Photoshop. (Right Click > Edit In > Photoshop

Step 2: Skin Corrections

Using the Clone Stamp Tool (S) with the settings above, source a clear spot of skin near the area to fix, being sure to match colors and shading as closely as possible. 

Increase and decrease your brush size using the bracket keys ( [ ] ) to match the size of the area you’re working on.

Clone with short taps repeatedly until the area is fixed. Do not click and drag, which can be too strong. Be sure to select a new source often.

Clone out any large blemishes on the body. 

Step 3: Fix Clothing & Wobbly Bits

There are many ways to correct any uneven edges, and I often switch up my “weapon of choice” depending on the type and size of adjustment needed. For this video, I was fixing a few very small lumps in the dress.

Using the Clone Stamp Tool (S) with a soft but very small brush, source a background area to duplicate. Keep it far enough away to not create a noticeable repeated patch. 

Carefully draw the new edge you’d like to create, holding the stroke down until the full section is completed. 

Step 4: Dodge & Burn

Using the Dodge Tool (O) with the settings above, paint highlights on the face and body. 

To Burn in shadows, hold down the Ctrl/Command key while painting with the same Dodge Tool (thus making it become the Burn Tool.)

Use the Dodge Tool to create highlights, and the Burn Tool to add shadows. This adds dimension and has a slimming effect.

Increase and decrease your brush size using the bracket keys ( [ ] ) to match the size of the area you’re working on. 

Step 5: compare original and fix over-editing

In the History Window, Select the Original File (at the very top). Then Undo (Ctrl/Command + Z) and watch your image change. Undo repeatedly until it’s easy to isolate the adjustments you made. Return to the current history state.

Using the History Brush Tool (Y) restore any areas that have been over-edited. 

Keep in mind that a smaller brush will be more precise, while a larger one will be more soft and diffused. 

Repeat as necessary.

Step 6: Adjust Levels

In the Adjustments Window, add a Levels Adjustment Layer.

In the Properties Window you can then boost your blacks, mid-tones, or whites as desired. For this image I used the settings at left, and based my decision on how the image looked. 

Check to see if your adjustments made an improvement by hiding the layer, and possibly decrease the opacity of the layer. Spot-mask any sections that are too intense if needed.

Flatten the image. (Ctrl/Command + E) 

Step 7: Extend Backdrop

Select the section of the image you want to replace, using the Marquee Tool (M). 

(Right Click > Fill...)

Select “Content-Aware” From the drop-down menu.

Repeat as necessary; ‘Undo’ (Ctrl/Command + Z) if fill is very uneven.)

Use the Clone Stamp Tool (S) to smooth any duplicate patches, if needed. 

Step 8: Run Imagenomic > Portraiture Plugin

(This step only applies if you have purchased and installed Portraiture.)

From the Filter Menu select Imagenomic > Portraiture. 

My Portraiture settings are shown at left for a very light handed softening effect. Modify yours as desired.

Select the ‘Background Copy’ layer and, using the Eraser Tool (E), remove the over-softened layer over the face.

Flatten the image. (Ctrl/Command + E)

Step 9: Run Alien skin > Exposure 4

(This step only applies if you have purchased and installed Alien Skin Exposure.)

From the Filter Menu select Alien Skin > Exposure 4...

After browsing the Factory Setting Options available, choose the settings that suit your image and taste. 

Modify the settings using the menus on the right. Adjust grain strength and vignette settings as necessary.

Click OK. Save file (Ctrl/Command + S).

Step 10: Crop in Lightroom

Wait to crop the image until the final step, so you can easily change the crop ratio, orientation or composition as needed.

Begin by choosing the crop ratio you will need the final image to be. I provide images to clients with a crop ratio of 2:3, which is what my camera shoots. For my marketing materials and blog, I usually need something different.

Once you’ve chosen your crop ratio, compose your shot as desired.

Emily London

Emily London is a portrait photographer for women. She's also a wife (of 10 years!), mother of two, graphic designer, ukulele enthusiast, cookie dough connoisseur, and photography mentor.