Project Description

Exposure has the tools you need to create perfect portraits. This video demonstrates Exposure’s touch-up tools in action. Learn to use Spot Healing tool, quickly enhance eyes, and whiten teeth.

Photos: Frank Salas, Randy Kepple, Vincent Bernard, Jason Bone, Hernan Sanchez


Spot Healing

First, let’s start with the Spot Heal tool. When the Spot Heal panel is open, the Spot Heal brush cursor will appear when you hover over the image preview. Selecting the band aid icon on the editing toolbar will open the Spot Heal tool. Spot healing enables you to quickly remove distracting elements from your images.

Next, I’ll zoom in to an area in the photo where I want to make adjustments. Then, I’ll refine the brush behavior so it will fully cover the feature I’d like to remove. For small blemishes, simply click on your image to remove them. Exposure will intelligently chose an adjacent source area for the repair. You can easily reposition this if you’d rather select from a different source area.

You can create as many regions as you want to touch up your entire photo. To heal larger areas, simply click and drag. You can always relocate the region Exposure chooses. Notice the hand icon, which indicates that the cursor is over a region you can move. To delete a region, right-click and select Delete from the menu, or you can select a region and press Backspace or Delete on the keyboard. Additionally, from the right-click menu you can set show outlines to Auto or Always. If my image is too crowded with all the displayed borders, I can switch to only Active, or to Never.

You can easily customize the appearance of your spot healing regions by adjusting the Size, Feather, and Opacity sliders. Feathering adjusts how the healed area fades out around the edges, while opacity sets the transparency of the blend. Lower settings show more of the original area while higher settings completely cover it. Notice the two sets of spot heal region controls. The top set of sliders control the active spot, and the bottom set of sliders control your next brush.

Each brush has two modes: Heal, which is mostly used for portrait retouching, and Clone, which is useful for areas with strong patterns like grass or trees. I’ll use it here to replace one of the crooked tassels on her cowl. To compare the before and after, I’ll press the key.

Brush Tool

Exposure’s brush tool also works great for retouching. Open the tool by selecting the brush icon to the right of the Spot Heal tool. The brush tool has several useful presets listed in the dropdown. Some of these presets are well-suited for retouching portraits, which we will get to shortly.

You can create your own brush presets by making adjustments to Exposure’s editing panels and save them to this list, here.

On the brushing panel, notice the on new layer checkbox. When this is checked, Exposure will create a new layer for each new brush preset you select. This is helpful because it saves you from accidentally undoing or brushing over your edits to the previous layer. At the bottom of the panel, Reset will undo all the brush strokes for the layer.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is an especially helpful retouching preset. I’ll select Whiten Teeth from the preset dropdown. Before brushing, I’ll set the size, feather and flow parameters that work with my image. Then I’ll brush the effect on.

You can learn more about controlling Exposure’s layers, brushing, and masks in our Local Adjustments video.

You can see the teeth get brighter and whiter as I brush over them. Any areas where I’ve brushed too much, like I’ve shown here, can easily be cleaned up by switching to the Eraser brush, adjusting the brush parameters, and removing the excess effect. I can alternatively hold the Option or Alt key while the brush tool is active to switch to the Eraser brush on the fly. I’ll quickly clean up the overbrushing.

The brush strokes are placed where I want them, but the effect is a little too strong. I’ll adjust the Opacity slider for my layer to make it more subtle. Now let’s compare the edits with the original image by holding the / key.

Enhance Iris

Exposure’s Enhance Iris preset is a great way to make the eyes of your subject a bit more captivating. I’ll select it from the dropdown menu. This preset will boost exposure, saturation, and clarity to make eyes more bright and vivid. Just like with teeth whitening, I will adjust the Size, Feather, and Flow for the brush to make it work for this application.

Note the brush pins that are placed when you start brushing in Exposure. A pin will be visible for each brush layer when the brush panel is open. They dissapear when your cursor leaves the preview area so you can see your images without distractions. To make changes to another brush layer, click on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel and start working.

Before we finalize the look, let’s take a look at a before and after by holding the key.

Soften Skin

An easy way to reduce the appearance of unwanted skin texture is to use the Exposure’s Soften Skin preset. I’ll select that option from the dropdown. And, just like before, after making adjustments to the brush settings, I can apply the brushing to the section I’d like to clear up. I’ll adjust the opacity setting of the layer to decrease the softness amount and bring back some of the details from the original image.

Let’s take a look at the before and after with the key.

Multi-layer Presets

Exposure has portrait retouching presets that apply several layers all at once. They free you from having to start from scratch for each image you retouch, which saves you time. After one of these multiple-layer presets are applied to your image, you can then use Exposure’s brushing to control the application of each layer’s effects.

All three of these presets include the fundamental touch ups you’ll need. Touch Up covers the retouching basics. It includes a layer for softening skin, one for enhancing the iris, and one for whitening teeth.

The next option is Touch Up + Background, which includes the three basic touch up layers and an additional layer that blurs and darkens the background which helps you easily draw attention to your subject.

The last option is the Touch Up + Red Eye preset. It includes the basic three touch up layers, and a layer with an effect that removes red eye.

As with all of Exposure’s presets, you can use the default settings, or you can customize each setting as much as you like. You can create and save your own variations of these multi-layer presets for your signature workflow and style.