How To Fix A Bad Photograph

June 2, 2007 at 8:44 pm (Digital Art, Photoshop tips and tricks) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Transform A Poor Quality Image Into An Amazing Show Piece In Three Easy Steps:

View Animated Sequence of Steps
    The Original Image:
  • The photo had very harsh lighting, exposing facial flaws, frown lines and dark lipstick color. In addition, it was taken from a low angle, accentuating the jaw line. This made the model appear masculine, although in reality she is a beautiful woman with a lovely heart-shaped face. You’d never guess it from this photo or from the makeup applied to her face for this shot. Despite these photographic errors, the image was taken at high resolution with a lot of detail. The photographer was about to delete the image, but it occurred to me that it would be a wonderful challenge to see if it could be ressurected using Photoshop.

    Step 1:
  • Duplicate the image and use the Healing Brush to remove the wrinkle between the eyes and to mute the harsh makeup lines. Soften the lines under the eyes and remove the messy the hair from the left side of the model’s face by painting over it with white. Brighten the lip color by making a selection around the lips and use Hue And Saturation to give a more pleasing hue. Then make a copy of this new phase and set the new layer to Screen Blending Mode which will lighten the overall skin tone. Mask out areas that should remain dark and intense, such as the eyes, hair, eyebrows, and lips.

    Step 2:
  • Then comes the painstaking task of restoring the jaw line to a more feminine heart-shaped contour, that the bad camera angle has exaggerated. Select Edit, Transform, Distort to mold the jaw into a more pleasing line. If you compare this stage with the last stage of the image, you will see a noticable difference on the jaw line. Then use the Clone Stamp to add hair on the right side of the model’s neck to correct the gap created by distorting the image.

    Step 3:
  • Add some graphic flourishes for a final touch by opening an image of a rose, dragging it into the open file and masking away unwanted portions of the rose image. Once the masking is complete set this layer’s blending mode to Lighten to create a semi-transparent effect. This result is not intense enough so duplicate the layer and set the blending mode to Soft Light. Voila!

  • Afterwards, just for fun, you might want to experiment with other variations to elicit even more dramatic flare:

  • View Animated Sequence of Steps

    Visit my website: The Graphic Groove
    Or my gallery on Flickr

    Return To Gale’s Home Page


  1. Justin said,

    I think you’re very talented Gale. Keep up the good work, your portfolio is quite impressive.

  2. Joni Solis said,

    All I can say is double WOW! That is amazing! You can make anyone into a cover girl. Love that you shared this with us and I want to see more.

  3. galefraney said,

    Hello Justin and Joni,

    Thank you so much for your kind comments !

  4. Vaishali Gala said,

    It’s magnificent! Really 3 cheers to you and your so uncommon talent. Continue your good work!!

  5. mary dugan said,

    This wonderful graphic would be a wonderful addition to a presentation I am giving on Medical Aesthetics—I was wondering how to reach you and ask permission for a one time use with credit—-Please respond

  6. galefraney said,

    Not sure how this one would tie into medical asthetics, but sure, go ahead & use it … with credit & if possible link back to my blog or website. Cheers! 🙂

  7. Karen said,

    Gale,I think your work is amazing,and even more amazing that you take your time to help other’s learn. You have a talent and an eye I only wish one day to have. Never stop being you! ~Karen~

  8. galefraney said,

    Karen, thank you for such a wonderful comment ! 🙂

  9. isabelle ann said,

    Came here for inspiration and help, and found an abundance of both.

    This site is so elegant and interesting and the fact that you so generously share your techniques with us demonstrates that not only is your work beautiful, but so is your spirit.

  10. kevin caudill said,

    Thanks for the tips,I learned some new things today.Your sight is wonderful.I appreciate the fact that you share,and help others.I will remember to do the same.

  11. Abhishek Mishra said,

    wow i this is amazing

    • Abhishek Mishra said,

      he buddy please reply me

  12. kyleiskyle said,

    thats incredible! Well explained as well and extremely helpful

  13. Kathleen said,

    I will be back! Your work and willingness to share with others is very commendalbe in such a young girl!!. I wish you well and keep doing this!!!! Chase your dream, make it come true……

    • galefraney said,

      Your comment made me smile. I’m not sure where you got the idea that I am “young”, but I’m certainly not young, ha ha 🙂

      I will be uploading some video tutorials that I’ve put together for my students and will place links to these in my blog. At the moment I’ve put together some for Illustrator.

  14. Pat said,

    Gale your stuff is fantastic and I would imagine the blog will be very busy in the future if not now. Consider becoming an affiliate with google the link below is to someone who did and is succeeding . It costs nothing because you are already on wordpress. you may have to get a provider of your choice and add ads. I have no interests and Never will but I am just getting into fractals and have been in photoshop quite a while now (I just bought cs4) I haven’t got my blogs up yet but it will be on computers and mainly repair and maintenance. Also a blog on Art I paint in acrylics. I will in time be an affiliate that you can make money wherever you are. Good luck in the future whatever you do. By the way I just joined Deviantart.

  15. Bob Miller said,

    Gale…Thanks for posting the tutorials…I plan on using them alot….Thanks again!

  16. Jaline said,

    Wow, all your designs are amazing and so beautiful. So happy to have found your site.

  17. Maria José Martins Mendes said,

    A vossa página é magnifica…

  18. Bernie Burn-a-fair-bit said,

    Hi Gale!

    I sent you a Christmas update, but find that your address is rejecting my email.
    Is there a new one I should know about?
    Had a boo at your website, as soon as it opened, my first reaction was “Wow, holy shit!!”
    Really compelling!! Great music, too!
    Merry Ho-Ho-Ding-Dong to you, and I hope you can enjoy some laughs with your family!! Cheers

    • Gale Franey said,

      Hi “Bernie”,

      I moved to Prince Edward Island after my mom passing away and going through a bit of turmoil. You can reach me at


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