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Dramatic Portrait Effect

How to Add Dramatic Portrait Effect to Your Images in Photoshop

by Waseem Abbas on Feb 19, 2016

Are you looking to add a dramatic portrait effect to your photos? Adding a dramatic effect can really help your photos stand out. In this article, we will show you how to add dramatic portrait effect to your images in Photoshop.

Adding Dramatic Portrait Effect to Images

First thing you need to do is open your photo in Photoshop.

Next, you need to create a duplicate layer, so your original image will be safe.

Duplicate Layer

After creating the duplicate layer, you can simply go to the Image » Adjustments » Shadows / Highlights to light up the dark areas of your portrait.

Shadows / Highlights

A new window will popup with the settings for Shadows and Highlights. You can go ahead and click on Show More Options.

Shadow / Highlight Settings

It will display more settings for you. We recommend you leave everything as-is and only adjust the Shadow setting.

Shadows Setting

Next, you need to go to the Filter » Sharpen » Unsharp Mask to add sharpness in your image.

Unsharp Mask

You can view the effect of Unsharp Mask on the image as you adjust the Amount of sharpness.

The other two settings that includes Radius and Threshold can be adjusted as shown in the image below.

Unsharp Mask Setting

Check out this guide to learn in detail about how to sharpen your images using Photoshop.

Now you can simply add an adjustment layer for Levels from the bottom right corner of your Photoshop screen.

Adjustment Layer Levels

In this step, you need to adjust a number for the Levels, so your portrait looks stunning.

Adjust Levels

After the Levels, you can go ahead and adjust the Brightness / Contrast by adding another adjustment layer.

Adjustment Layer Brightness Contrast

I recommend leaving the Brightness as-is and lift up the Contrast for best results.

Adjust Brightness Contrast

Now, the last thing you need to do is adjust the Vibrance and Saturation on your portrait.

You can do this by adding another adjustment layer for Vibrance.

Adjustment Layer Vibrance

Simply increase the Vibrance by a little bit, and reduce the Saturation.

Adjust Vibrance

That’s all. You can see the before and after image below.

Dramatic Portrait Effect Before and After

Like always, the settings to achieve the best dramatic portrait effect may vary from portrait to portrait. So play around with the numbers until you see what you like.

We hope this article has helped you to learn how to add dramatic portrait effect to your images in Photoshop. You may also want to check out our guide on how to add an old film effect to your images in Photoshop.

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