How To Make Amazing Highlights | Photoshop CS6

Aaron Nace: Today I’m going to show you
how to make some awesome highlights in Photoshop. Hey guys and welcome to Phlearn my name is
Aaron Nace. You can find me on Twitter @Aknace and today we’re editing one of your images.
This is Simon’s image. He won our contest. If you guys want to enter our contest be sure
to click we’ll leave it a link down below every single Monday we have a contest you
guys can submit your images and have them edited to your own Phlearn as well as win
a Phlearn Pro. We’re editing Simon’s images, it’s an
awesome image. What we’re going to do is we’re going to kind of take the overall
levels of the image and play with them a little bit and then really bring out some of the
really nice highlight detail in the image. I think you guys are going to love this tutorial.
It’s not too hard and it’s going to add a lot of pop to your images.
All right so getting into this image, we have, this is our image that Simon submitted. It’s
just awesome. Here’s a before, which we can see is a subject covered in some kind
of a goo. If you guys have a guess on what this goo is, let me know. I don’t know it’s
kind of interesting. Here’s the after that Simon submitted. Very, very cool.
Now a lot of you guys might be thinking well he just turned it black and white that’s
really not that hard. That’s really not the case, this image has a lot more done to
it than just turning black and white. It is really hard to get this look. Just to kind
of show you guys, it’s not the case. Just grab an adjustment layer let’s go over here
to black and white for instance and there we go. This is black and white. Even if you
play around with your levels here, you can see it’s not just like a straight interpretation.
The difference between that and this is really quite a bit. There’s a lot of dodging and
burning a lot of playing out with the shadows and highlights and really quite a big change
happened. It’s not just turned black and white.
Another thing, I trimmed an ear a little bit there just for some symmetry and that looks
really good, and then the eyes have been colored. Awesome image. One thing that I would like,
I was looking at this image, seeing this reflection here really, really nice reflection there
on her chest. I thought that detail was nice I would like
to see this brought out in the overall image a little bit more you know being able to see
that detail here in her face. You will run into a problem, let’s create a new layer,
and I’m just going to paint with white here on a brush, you’re going to run into a problem
if your image is too light. You can see I’m painting a highlight here
on her nose, you can’t really see it there on her cheek, and you kind of see it there
and over there you can kind of see it as well. On her cheek, I mean on her nose rather, it’s
pretty much already white. If I were to try to add highlights to her face right now, you
wouldn’t really be able to see them because it’s already so light.
What we’re going to do is I’m going to take down the overall brightness of the image
and then we’re going to bring back up certain areas. You can do this on any image you work
with. You can just take the overall brightness down and then bring those highlight details
in there and it really helps people pop out. The first thing I’d like to do is go ahead
and bring down the brightness. We’re going to grab an adjustment layer here, and we’re
going to go to levels, and I’m going to click right over here, you have your input
levels and your output levels. Now most people stick with their input levels.
You can take your mid-tone slider and kind of drag this either way and have some fun
with that. This button will just undo that. Here we’ll take everything that’s to the
right of this and turn it completely white which is a cool effect but we’re not going
to be doing that today. This basically takes your black level and
takes everything that’s to the left and turns it completely black, compressing it
against the ground basically. Now a lot of people ignore the output slider right here.
That’s actually in my opinion the more powerful one. Take a look down here. On the bottom
end what we do, if I bring this, it takes the black point and brings it up.
It just makes the darkest point in your image a little bit lighter. The right side will
do the opposite. It takes the lightest point of your image and makes it a little bit darker,
so all the way down to the black or whatever. What we’re going to do is we’re just going
to take this down and not go like super dramatic but just take it right down to about there,
so now the lightest point in our image is not white.
It’s something around like 80 percent gray, which means we’re kind of opening ourselves
up for an opportunity to get that really nice highlight on over top of the skin. Okay, now
there’s a bunch of different ways you guys can do this, just kind of looking at this
image because we have lost a little bit of the details here after this conversion happened,
what I’m going to do is I’m going to go all the way back down to the original where
we can see, look at all that really nice detail there, this highlight detail.
We’re going to go all the way back down to this and get our information from this
layer. Now, there is one slight difference between this layer and that layer. It’s
the ear is just a little bit different so I’m going to take care of that. I’m going
to, I’ll show you why we need to take care of that in just a second.
Okay, so we’re going to use our channels to draw out the color from, draw out the highlights
rather from our background layer. Make sure all your other layers are invisible, you just
want your background layer. We’re going to go to channels, and then we’re going
to click on red channel, green channel, and blue channel.
What we’re looking for here is a big difference, I have a blue copy because I’ve already
done this, we can just delete that, you’re looking for a difference between the highlights
and the shadows. The larger of difference the larger of a contrast you see, the easier
you’re going to be able to bring out all of the highlights and shadows.
You can see here on the red channel I can’t really see a difference, green is okay, and
blue is even better. What we’re going to do is duplicate our blue channel. Click and
drag that down to the new channel icon, we have a blue copy here and I’m going to hit
Command + L and that brings up our levels. You can go to Image, Adjustments, and Levels
also. Okay so now with our levels now what we’re going to do is that we’re going
to take this mid-tone slider, just like we did before and I’m going to really crank
that to the right and then bring this to the left.
What’s it’s doing is it’s isolating our highlights a little bit more. You can
see that not a whole lot of detail is visible here in the rest of the skin, but the highlight
area is light. The reason we use channels is to make selections. Channels are really
great for making selections and if you have a light area against a dark area, it’s going
to select the light area and not select the dark area.
It’s perfect, that’s exactly what we want. Now what we’re going to do is I’m going
to hold down Command click right here on our thumbnail which is going to select out the
letter areas. It doesn’t look like everything is selected, but it is. Anything that’s
lighter than complete black will be selected. Okay, so now we’re back to our layers and
you can see our selection is still active. What we need to do is create a new layer right
above that and I’m just going to use my brush tool and we’re just going to paint
white. Let’s use the nice kind of hard brush to paint white and I can choose where I’d
like to put it, not only that but I can play around with this layer later.
Whenever I’m doing this I really don’t like being able to see all these little marching
ants, I like knowing that I have a selection that’s cool but I don’t like them, I think
it gets in the way. I am going to hit Command + H and that’s just going to ask you if
you want to hide Photoshop or the extras and we’ll say hide the extras. My selection
is still active, you can hit Command + H and go back and forth, it’s just going to not
be visible. Okay, so the selection is active, and now
with a white paintbrush everything is normal, I’m just going to start painting, and it’s
using that selection that I already made from my channel to now paint. It won’t paint
anywhere else basically. It’s only going to paint wherever I already had selected.
In this case, it’s focusing on the highlights. I’m going to use layer maps in just a little
bit. There we go. I’ve gone ahead and painted all those highlights. Let’s put a layer
map on there and just make our brush a little bit softer and paint black, just for like
this edgework and things like that. All right, just make sure that you deselect when you
start playing on your layer map. Very nice, so we can see we brought out those
highlights, now and there are many ways you can do this. What I’m going to do is I’m
going to take this even a step further. All you have to do is duplicate that layer and
you have even more highlights. In this case I really don’t want this layer to be visible
everywhere. This is where like just you know the really,
really nice details come out. We’re going to take our layer map and I’m just going
to fill it with black. I’m just going to hit Shift + Delete, and fill with black. That’s
going to make everything on this layer invisible. How we’ll just go in here and like the really
nice details, we’ll just paint white on our layer map.
That’s just going to bring that extra layer in maybe a little bit here on the lips. Anytime
you want I’m just trying to be careful because if I completely paint that in you’re going
to lose that really nice detail and we really don’t want that. All right so here in like
the eyebrows and here in the eyes. Again remember the only thing visible in this
layer is the highlights, are the highlights rather. That’s what I’m trying to maintain
and a little bit of sculpting on the cheeks. You can see there just adds a little bit more
dimension to the image. All right, and I do this a lot, you’re like
watching me like turn my layer off and on. I do that a lot in Photoshop just trying to
see like the before and after really quick. All right, and paint that white in there as
well. Very nice. What we’ve done, is we’ve taken an image that was already great.
Let’s just go ahead and shift click all those layers and hit Command + G, so here’s
our before, it’s really not that different. I know the overall image is a little bit darker.
I’m going to show you guys a way to lighten the background, but it reads a little bit
different. It’s not going to read like okay, it’s a dark image. It’s just going to
read like it has a little bit more detail. What I mean by read is like you see it and
that’s like kind of your impression of it. There’s the before, and there’s our after
with that little bit of nice detail here in the nose area. Now if you want to you can
go in this level’s adjustment layer and still kind of play around with it.
Let’s go into our levels and say you want a little bit less contrast or more contrast
all those highlights that we’ve painted, those are above this layer so you know we
can do really quite a bit you know playing with our contrast here, and those highlights
will stay in place. Let’s say we like something like that we can go either darker or lighter,
that’s over here and then our highlights are on these other two layers.
Again very cool. Now if we do want to, let’s just grab a new layer and I’m just going
to grab my brush tool and maybe we’ll just paint white here. There we go, on the outside
of this and I’m going to do the same thing on this side. Okay, make sure we get something
relatively even here. Then you can use all kinds of, I would have
just normally used the channel selection but because her ear changed, we couldn’t have,
it would have been a different selection. I’m going to double click on this layer
to bring up our blending style and here down where it says blend this, I’m going to have
this not be visible where the underlying layer is darker so the hold Alt + R option down
click on this little slider and just bring it from the left to the right.
That’s going to blend in really nicely and kind of like broke the boundary a little bit
which gives us a little of that milky look, I kind of like that in this case but if you
want to go ahead and refine that edge a little bit more let’s bring that in. You can see
it will wind up blending in quite well with the rest of your image. I’m going to give
it a little bit of a blur as well, just so it does blend in just a little bit better.
We’ll lower the opacity, there we go, so lightening the background but doing it in
a way that doesn’t really distract from the overall image.
All right guys, so anytime you’re editing an image in Photoshop if you want to bring
out your highlights if the image is already too light just grab that slider, bring it
down a little bit, you can then use channels to select out your highlights and then paint
them back over top of everything and you will have something that really stands out from
its background. Thanks so much for watching Phlearn. This is the end of the episode have
an awesome day and an awesome life. I’ll Phlearn you later.


  1. anisaproductionzz July 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Loved the tutorial, thank you.

  2. Juan Bautista July 10, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Awesome you get me inspired!

  3. George Chino July 31, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I love your tutorials!!!

  4. Mr Jee August 28, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    You feel like a buddy and that makes me learn more! SUBSCRIBING!

  5. Dickson Tee September 7, 2013 at 6:14 am

    I start to use this technique right away on one of my black and white images… very easy to remember

  6. Daniel Kuenstler September 24, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    hehe…always waiting for your "final quote"….

  7. Ricky097 October 6, 2013 at 3:59 am

    hey can you teach us how to make the skin white? like the 1 in the video.


  8. Mr Jee October 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Try using the channelmixer. Two times. Set the first one to monochrome with blendingmode screen. Then the second one, monochrome, blendingmode overlay or soft light. Experiment with opacity for the best result.

  9. Ricky097 October 21, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    thnks 🙂

  10. Mr Jee October 21, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    No prob. Let me know how it works

  11. Neorade Cheung December 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    it's totally magic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. cybercab December 26, 2013 at 10:10 am

    So what was on the girl's face?

  13. 無大郎 January 4, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    需要 中文字幕

  14. BreaktimeTraveler February 21, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Great Tut. I had this technique kind of sitting in the back of my head. I'm glad you've made it so approachable. I'll be playing with this effect soon!

  15. Edward Carlile February 22, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Love this guy.

  16. nico tello March 3, 2014 at 1:24 am


  17. shaz X April 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    show us how to get that white effect

  18. Tyler James Thompson April 19, 2014 at 5:58 am

    Can you please do a tutorial on how to do the white effect?

  19. tekhiun May 8, 2014 at 11:56 am

    You can easily make the  white effect using the camera raw filter.  Make a layer copy  (layer 1) and  use  the camera raw filter to raise shadows and blacks  and turn the image to black and white. Repeat this once or twice depending on how much of whiteness you want

    when you are done copy the original image into a new layer (layer 2)  , make it black and white and  blend it over layer 1  using soft light/overlay. 

    Then apply some gaussian blur to layer 2 and you should have something pretty similar  to the image used here.  All you need to do is blend the eyes using a masked copy of the original image. 

    This is probably the quick and dirty way of doing the effect but it works for me. 

  20. pete.g L June 24, 2014 at 3:58 am

    how to get that white effect?

  21. max fraguas July 7, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    For a long time I´ve been looking how to make that white look. Could you do another tut explaining how to get it?   Great Channel!

  22. Angie S August 28, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    thank you thank you thank you!!!

  23. Vortekz January 4, 2015 at 12:51 am

    Where can we get all the images you're using in your tutorials ?

  24. Marlom Azul Aparicio January 9, 2015 at 11:35 am


  25. Robert Hofer January 30, 2015 at 10:50 am

    excellent way to select highlights! Thanks for that lesson!

  26. Simon Woodward Fine Art Photography February 17, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Stunning Technique! Thanks for sharing @Aaron Nace. 🙂

  27. MaverickLotus May 13, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Hey Aaron, I really like this tutorial. My Challenge though is recreating an image like that (all white) from just a regular high res image of someone. could you do a tutorial demonstrating how i can get that effect. A close reference to this style can be seen in Hunger Games (Snow's all white ads).

  28. Claudio Gonzalez July 2, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Pfff, you didn't shared how you turned the original colored picture to all white, you just said it was a very advanced technique etc. That's kind of what we're looking for dude!

  29. susandutt July 29, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    6:25 what is the shortcut for changing the size of the brush the way you do it here??

  30. Hubbak Khan August 7, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    awesome tut, could you please tell me what type/company of pen tablet you use for Photoshop?

  31. Willdorak February 15, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    I prefer the way it was before.

  32. Jan Prototyp February 25, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    tel us how to get this lock ^^ the wite one un know wat i mean ^^

  33. Rodo G April 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Thank you for this great tip !

  34. labelluvah April 27, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    u guys are amazing

  35. Harry Gilbert May 9, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    How do you get that skin effect??!! I have been searching everywhere and cant find it????

  36. Laura Eme August 28, 2017 at 10:43 am

    You speak very fast now, before it was easier for me to understand you because you explained speaking more slowly.,, THANK U 😉

  37. robertgarciaize June 12, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Great haircut finally lol

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