April 08, 2010
Categories: Photography, PSE, Tutorials
Squeaky Clean
This afternoon, shortly after I posted today’s “Before & After,” I saw that Amy McMaster posted her latest Photoshop Elements freebie. It’s called “Squeaky Clean.”

“It’s a simple little action that plays out levels (to tweak lights and darks), a shadow boost to deepen shadows a bit, a color balance layer to tweak skin tones, a color booster that is easy on the skin tones, a layer for running Noiseware (or other noise removal software) or clone work, a simple eye pop, a red fix layer (great to use on bloodshot eyes, lessening red in areas of the skin etc) and a warm and cooling filter. It’s all there. Sweet and simple. You will run into images that may need more than this action offers, but if you nail it in camera- less work later.”

For basic post-processing, it’s absolutely perfect…therefore, I couldn’t wait to get home to test it out. Another one of the ladies on the photography board posted this cute picture of her daughter (and Kristen, I promise that I haven’t forgotten you). It really only needs a little post-processing, so I thought it would be a perfect example. Here’s the original:

The key with this action is in how you apply each layer. I took a screen capture of my work flow so you can see the multiple layers that are being applied. For some reason, it makes the actual photo look really weird, but you get the idea.
A few tips to remember:
  1. Make sure your exposure and white balance are as correct as you can get it before adjusting any layers.
  2. Use the masks. Use a soft black brush on the white mask to brush the effects OFF and use the a soft white brush on a lower opacity (I start somewhere between 20-40%) to reveal an effect.
  3. As you apply each layer, make sure that it didn’t negatively impact any other effect as it relates to the photograph. 
  4. Once you’re done with this action, you can merge the layers (press CTRL+E) and continue any other editing you wish.
While I’m here, I figured I might as well add my extra touch. For this, I thought Coffeeshop’s Sun Kissed action might work really nicely – it also makes the sunspot on her little head make sense.