In this post I will show you how I created my profile picture and what I think that is important in profile pictures and their editing in general. The programs used for this edit are Photoshop and Lightroom. The things stated in this post are completely my own opinions on things and I have learnt everything on my own. Here is a before and after image of this edit. As you can see I go kinda crazy with my editing. This is written at the same time I created the image again and that's why it isn't 100% the same with my profile picture but it's close enough. Hope you like it and learn a lot of new things.
1. STARTING IMAGE
I think that you should use an image of yourself as a profile picture. Usually it's the only image where people are going to recognize you from around the different social media platforms. When taking the image, I recommend taking a picture where the background is blurred and simple. The background should also be darker than your face or upper body is. Never use a profile picture where people cant see your face. There are exceptions to this but mostly your own portraits will be the best profile pictures you can use. But yeah lets start this tutorial now.
I imported the image to Lightroom and the first thing I did was that I created a radial filter (the circle tool) and I put it over my face. I brought the exposure, shadows and blacks down a lot to make the background black. One problem with this is that it hid a lot of my hair also and I used the ''brush'' mode next to the ''edit'' to brush some of the effect of the radial filter off.
I brushed some of my hair back to visible. For the next step I want you to focus mainly on clarity and saturation. If you want to create more like a black and white type of image I recommend decreasing the saturation a lot in Lightroom. For every profile picture that includes a close up face, It's important to increase clarity A LOT. Clarity increases a lot of details and makes the image look much better and sharp in general. Don't still go too crazy with the clarity since that can lead into a horrible result. I also played a little with the basic adjustments. Boosting the highlights made my face brighter and decreasing exposure made the shadows a little darker.
This next part is completely optional but I wanted to do it since I like sharp sharp images (maybe sometimes I increase the sharpness too much). I added new radial filter and I inverted it so it only affects the inside area of the filter. I boosted sharpness and clarity again a little more.
This next thing is the most important editing step in editing any close up portraits. EYES. Enhance the eyes a lot. As an editor I don't care that much whether the portrait looks realistic or not, and I like to go kinda crazy but with portrait photographing in general, I think that increasing the sharpness and colours of the eyes is important. You can do it slightly if you want a more realistic look, but I enhanced the eyes a lot in this one. If you want the eyes to be blue, I recommend taking the temperature down a bit and then increasing the saturation a little. If you want to do it in some other color, you can use the ''color'' adjustment and change it to the color you like. (You can also change the color with the hue sliders in Lightroom but I think it's simple to do it with the basic adjustmens.) To increase the brightness, boost the exposure, HIGHLIGHTS, and the whites a little bit. Then to duplicate the radial filter click on the filter with right mouse button and choose ''duplicate''. Now you have your eyes ready.
We are almost done with editing in lightroom. The last thing I did and what I always do is scroll down to the ''detail'' section in Lightroom and increase up the luminance to get rid of excess noise and then I increase the sharpness to make it look crisp. Now its time to start doing the magic in Photoshop. Lets begin.
3. EDITING IN PHOTOSHOP
For me editing pictures in Photoshop is way more fun but I have found that the basic adjustments are just way better and easier to do in Lightroom. It is hands off the best editing software for every photographer but of course, if you want to do composites, you need to have Photoshop. Nowadays I do a lot of final color grading in PS but for this image we are getting back to Lightroom at the end. To move the image from Lightroom to Photoshop, click with right mouse button on the image and choose ''edit in'' and then ''open as a smart object in Photoshop''. You should never export the image and then open a new project manually in photoshop since it's way slower. If you want to edit the image again in Lightroom at the end, it will automatically make all the changes made in Photoshop appear in Lightroom as well when you save it. This will only happen if you have moved the image to Photoshop by the steps I stated above.
Now that we have moved the image to Photoshop, I want to remove some blemishes. This is also completely optional but I just like to do it to make the image smoother and look a little better. (the paint will eventually hide most of the blemishes but I still like to ''clean'' it) To remove the blemishes use the spot healing brush tool. Make the brush hardness low ( to 5-20%). Now you just have to click on all imperfections and Photoshop does the magic for you. You should also always duplicate the original layer to the bottom. I like to do it so I can see before and after quickly and if you mess up everything it's good to have a original backup. To duplicate the layer, click on the layer with right mouse and then ''duplicate layer.''
Here is b&a of removing the blemishes. As you can see the face looks a lot smoother and I personally like the look better when its cleaner. Next we are going to add paint on the face.
Adding paint to face can sometimes be pretty hard but I'll try to explain it as good as I can. First you need to find some paint splash images. After you have found those, try to set them in a good position over the face. When you have found the position for the paint, combine the layers (ctrl+e) and set the blending mode to ''multiply''. Multiply blending mode removes every white part of the image and leaves the colors visible, so It's important to find an image that has a white background.
Now you need to bloat the paint to to make it fit better on the face. You can find the pinch tool from: filter-->distort-->pinch. Then you have to make it bloat over the face. I have found that -40% works pretty well, but of course you can try different numbers. After bloating, put a layer mask on the paint layer and brush the paint off from the parts that you don't want the paint to be visible with black brush. (eyes. eyebrows etc) Couldn't find the exact same paint splashes and couldn't get the composition similar to the original one, but this worked just fine. I also erased the excess parts that went over my face. Now we are going to add some lighting to the image.
Okay as you can see the change is huge in terms of lighting on the face. I don't go over every single adjustment layer seperately, since it would make this tutorial too long but I'll try to explain every layer well. With the ''Exposure 1'' I painted black over the face on the layer mask and then decreased the exposure so it made everything else except my face darker. With ''Exposure 2'' I painted the whole mask black and then brushed white over the face. Then I increased the exposure and gamma correction on that adjustment layer and that created this awesome contrast on the face. Remember this with any layer mask: WHITE REVEALS, BLACK REMOVES. I also decreased the saturation a little of the whole image.
4. FINAL LIGHTROOM ADJUSTMENTS
Im glad if you made it this far. Now we are going to save the image and as I told earlier, you can just click save and the changes will appear in Lightroom. You can see the b&a of the final lightroom adjustments below.
Don't worry, I will explain what I did in lightroom. As you can see the after image has a certain glow in it and everything blends better together. Below you can see all the adjustments I have done and I will point out the most important adjustments here. First I boosted the brightness a bit with exposure and whites. Then I made the curve. Left corner in the curve means blacks and right corner means whites. I brought the blacks up a bit. That blends everything better together. Then I brought the midtones a little down and increased the highlights a bit. This curve is called the ''contrast curve'' and I use it almost in every one of my images. Then the colors. As you can see I increased luminance almost in every color. That makes the paint parts brighter (luminance makes colors brighter). I also played a little with the hues. You really just need to play with these color settings and come up with something that you personally like. It might seem hard at first but I promise that you will get the hang of it fast. For split toning I gave the higlights a warmer tone and made the shadows slightly cooler. One last thing that I did was that I added a radial filter to my hair and increased the clarity.
5. FINAL THOUGHTS
That's basically it for this tutorial. Now you have the information, put it to the test! It's fun to play around with Photoshop and I'm sure you will be able to create now an image like that! I worked really hard on this tutorial and hope that you enjoy it and learn a lot of new things! Remember that none of the things that I stated in this tutorial is based on a true fact since i'm self-taught and I just tell how I do certain things. Sorry if some of the images have a bad quality, I just took always a screenshot and then made the image steps in Photoshop. I tried my best to explain everything and you should understand most of it without clearly even seeing the pictures. Let me know what did you think about this tutorial! If you have any questions, feel free to ask in my DM's