Subtle but Powerful Portrait Editing with Photoshop Actions

Subtle but Powerful Portrait Editing with Photoshop Actions

A few weeks ago, I shared an edit I did in a private Photoshop mentoring with Tammy Miller, who lives near me in Michigan. Her daughter is gorgeous and I wanted to share some more step-by-step Blueprint edits with you.  Tammy is not a professional photographer but wants to take and edit better images of her daughter as well as friends and relatives. So I am here to help.

This particular photo is so sweet and classic. I love the serious expression, her eyes and the overall feel of the image.  With a photo like this, less is more.  I have to restrain myself from over-editing.

I started by using MCP Fusion Photoshop actions.  I only ran Color Fusion Mix and Match, which allows me to combine any of the color actions from the entire set by running one action. I chose Lemonade Stand at 19%, Passion at 55%, and Peachy at 57% opacity. I loved the subtle toning and contrast.  Her skin looked so smooth and creamy after using these Photoshop actions, even though no skin smoothing actions were used.

At this point, I wanted to bring attention to her eyes, so I played the Eye Doctor action. This Photoshop action is the best way to enhance eyes by adding light and sharpening. It is important not to over-do the eyes. You want to enhance them but want to avoid “alien eyes.” I used the Catchlight, Sharp as a Tack, and Iris layers all at the default opacity, but skipped the other layers in the action.

I was very pleased with the results of this edit. I hope this helped you see how I approach editing an image using actions. If you are interested in seeing how I edit your images using MCP products, consider taking our Watch Me Work group class or a one-on-one Photoshop training class.

editing portraits with photoshop actions

And here is one more edit from this session. Again, I started with Color Fusion Mix and Match. This time I mixed Summer Camp at 84%, Crave at 23%, Peachy at 68%, Vanilla Cream at 50%, and Urban Revival at 50%. It’s so fun playing and layering the actions in just one click. Lastly I used Dodge Ball and painted the effect on her face with a low opacity brush to lighten the shadows. I did not process her eyes in this one, as I wanted emphasis to be on her mouth and hands. Lastly I picked a better crop so that she was not facing out of the frame.

I was very pleased with the results of these subtle yet powerful Photoshop edits. I hope this helped you see how I approach editing an image using actions. If you are interested in seeing how I edit your images using MCP products, consider taking our Watch Me Work group class or a one-on-one Photoshop training class.

photoshop actions to edit

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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  1. 1
    Tammy says:

    Love seeing the combinations. Thanks for the quick tutorials to start my Friday morning!

  2. 2
    Brenda says:

    I was wondering if you do one on one sessions teaching photoshop and all your tools. I would be very interested in learning from you, but I would learn much better in person. Is that a possibility? Could you send me information if it is? Thank you!

    • 2.1

      Brenda – where are you located? I am in Michigan. I do, on occasion, teach people in person. The way I teach online really is close to the in person experience with our one-on-one private training and group trainings. Contact me through our site and let me know more about what you are looking for and we can see if it is a good fit.
      Thanks – Jodi

  3. 3
    Carlita says:

    Beautiful! Your actions are always a success. However, for those of us who can’t afford them (haha), maybe once in a while you could give us a little peek into how to do some cool stuff like this without actions?

  4. 4

    Beautifully edited, as always. Love Fusion!

  5. 5
    bobbie says:

    love the fusion… i too am just an amateur, grandmother who likes to learn and take photos of family, espec 2 year old grandson… and do scrapbook i loved seeing the how to and decided to give it a try..the photo i have is one with a shadow cause i am trying to learn to use my it unfortunately has a shadow but i love how the fusion worked on the photo … i am going to scrap the photo too …when you use the fusion mix do you keep the basic layer and then add the lemonade, passion etc..or do you turn off the basic layer or it just depends on the photo?

  6. 6
    bobbie says:

    here is before photo

  7. 7
    bobbie says:

    here is the photo in a scrapbook page

  8. 8
    Stephanie says:

    I love the edits. So subtle and so beautifully done! Looks professional to me. :)

  9. 9
    Tammy Miller says:

    Beautiful, Jodi! I love what you did to both of the photos & I love being able to read the blue prints on them!!
    Thank you

  10. 10

    Nice job, Bobbi! Bravo! And thanks, Jodi, for making MCP et al. happen!

  11. 11
    Nicole says:

    Hi Jodi – Gorgeous pictures! In the first one, when you were discussing the little girl’s eyes, you said you “…skipped the other layers in the action.” How do you do this? Do you simply open the action and adjust that particular layer’s opacity to 0% ??

    Am I asking that right??

    Again, gorgeous little girl.

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