{Before & After} Making Freckles Pop in Photoshop

August 9, 2012

in Before & After, Fix-It Friday, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop

I Heart Faces Photo Editing Tutorial for Freckles

Follow along as Maryanne Gobble demonstrates her black and white photo editing process to emphasize freckles in this week’s Before & After photo editing tutorial.

Bring Out the Freckles

I have to admit, I’m a bit ga ga over freckles. While I notice my son’s freckles in real life, they often do a disappearing act in photos. Let me lead you through a black and white process that is freckle friendly. This black and white conversion is not for all pictures. It’s a once-in-awhile deal to have in your arsenal. I’ve outlined quite a few steps. If you are a beginner I suggest just paying attention to the first couple steps of this photo editing tutorial and letting the others go for now. So here we have the straight out of camera shot taken in my kitchen with his face looking towards a naturally lit window. I will be using Adobe Photoshop CS3 for editing.

How to Bring Out Freckles - A Black & White Editing Tutorial for Photoshop via I Heart Faces

Step #1|  Convert

Go to your layers palette and choose the ‘Black & White’ option.

Making Freckles Pop - I Heart Faces Photoshop Tutorial


Look at all those sliders. You can adjust by hand right from here if you desire. This feature is commonly used to darken blue skies in black and white conversions. Easy does it: if you slide things too much in can turn ugly. The image below is without any adjustments and looks pretty flat.

Making Freckles Pop - I Heart Faces Photoshop Tutorial


Step #2|  Filter

I’m going to choose a Black and White preset filter for this photo. Go to the drop down menu and choose the ‘Blue Filter’ to get those freckles bursting. Now try ‘High Contrast Blue Filter’. Ahh, leprosy! Go back, I repeat, go back! The blue filter can also be a great option to bring out the manliness in a male portrait depending on their skin tone. The sliders are all adjustable if you need to scale back the blue filter. This filter also lightens blue eyes and can result in alien eyes. Just ease those blue sliders down if that’s the case. Moderation is key.

Making Freckles Pop - I Heart Faces Photoshop Tutorial

Step #3|  Lighten up

The photo is looking dark. Time for a curve bump. I’ve chosen the “Curves” option in the layers pallete and plotted out two points to lighten things up with some contrast as pictured below.

Making Freckles Pop - I Heart Faces Photoshop Tutorial

Step #4|  Cleaning up!

Make sure all layers are flattened at this point. [From the Layer drop-down menu across the top of the screen, choose Flatten.] I used the healing tool to fix a small blemish on my back and then used the clone tool to cover a messy part in my hair. I also cleaned up a few spots on the wall and cropped out the rest. If I wanted to get really crazy I could have used the liquify tool to smooth the hair lumping out the side of my head. Lets not even go there. Liquify is terrifying and may result in hate mail.

Making Freckles Pop - I Heart Faces Photoshop Tutorial

Step #5|  Sharpen up

There are several ways to sharpen a photo when editing, but I love to use the high pass filter. Start by duplicating the background layer (Ctrl J). Select the top layer then go to Filter> Other > Highpass. For this image I used a radius of 4.3. You basically just need to move the slider up until there is a light basic outline showing in the image (see below). Then change the top layer to “Soft Light’ mode and flatten. If it’s too sharp just down the opacity to taste before flattening.

Making Freckles Pop - I Heart Faces Photoshop Tutorial


Step #6|  Getting edgy

This is looking satisfactory, but like I said, I’m head over heels for freckles. There is a way to bring out texture a step up from basic sharpening. Duplicate your layer and choose highpass filter one more time. This time crank up the radius a bit more. I used a radius of 18. Choose the ‘Soft Light’ mode as we did above and then add a layer mask. Fill it with black and then paint white anywhere you want the texture (freckles in our case) to show through. Remember you can use your opacity slider to tone down the whole layer if needed.

Making Freckles Pop - I Heart Faces Photoshop Tutorial

Step #7|  Soften up

Now I’m just getting picky. But if there is one thing that drives me nuts about some photos is the blacks are so black and the whites so white. Go to “Selective Color” in the layers palette. Choose “Blacks” in the drop down box and slide the black slider down a bit. I did -7. Next choose ‘Whites’ from the drop down box and move the black slider up a few notches. I did +7. It was looking a little muddy so I chose an opacity of around 35% on this layer and then flattened.

Making Freckles Pop - I Heart Faces Photoshop Tutorial


And the Final Image!

How to Bring Out Freckles - Black & White Photoshop Tutorial via I Heart Faces

And here’s the Before & After so you can compare:

How to Bring Out Freckles - Black & White Photoshop Tutorial via I Heart Faces

Maryanne Gobble for I Heart Faces Maryanne Gobble is a Fine Art Photographer located in Redding, CA. She used to squint her eyes in the mirror as a kid in an effort to erase her freckles. Now she wants them back. Follow her on Facebook or check out what inspires her on Pinterest.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jas November 19, 2015

What a beautiful image! Great tips, I love freckles.


Linda September 27, 2013

Wow! What an amazingly simple tutorial. I love photoshop, but I know that there are SO MANY things that I do not know how to do in it. This would be one of those things. I have never used the bxw colour filters before. Thanks so much for a great how to article.


näsplastik June 1, 2013

I read this article fully regarding the resemblance
of latest and preceding technologies, it’s awesome article.


Diana Stanshop August 15, 2012

This is awesome so thank you for the short tutorial. This is really nice for me since I have many freckles and I want to be out on the photos. I love this tutorial.


Christy Harper August 12, 2012

wonderful post! My daughter and I both have freckles so this will be a good help 🙂


Kel August 11, 2012

Wow! I love this tutorial!

I love freckles, and could never figure out how to make them pop in black and white photos. Thank you so much for sharing this!! Also, the photos is absolutely precious!!


Declan Mc Glone August 11, 2012

{Before & After} Making Freckles Pop in Photoshop #photography http://t.co/2bcaKU43


Marisa August 9, 2012

This is great! I love seeing the process step by step. Thank you.
My daughter has freckles and I love to bring them out in photos. As always, there are several ways to accomplish the same edit. I mainly use Lightroom, and for color images, I find if I decrease the orange Luminance slider a little, her freckles pop right out.


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