Monthly Archives: September 2010

Another Photoshop miracle: virtual lipstick tutorial

During our Family Vacay 2010, many glorious pictures were taken of all family members. But every so often, briefly, my own camera was turned on me. In some cases, this turned out to be . . . a problem. Since I wasn’t usually wearing much make-up or any lip gloss, there was nothing to bring zip to my normally washed-out look. In reality, this is fine, and I fully support make-up-lessness. However, when captured on film . . . well, that’s a different matter. My lips, for example, had very little pink in them and slightly resembled the lips of a zombie. Yes, I am very, very pale, and this can play out in both wonderful and/or hideous ways on camera.

Thankfully, I grabbed a hold of Photoshop.

“Photoshop Photoshop on the wall, make me the prettiest one of all!” I implored.

And while I didn’t become the prettiest one of all, there was a vast improvement.

I am now going to walk you through steps that will essentially add more color to your lips. I call it ‘virtual lipstick.’ Yes, it’s completely cheating the system. Probably extremely vain as well. But every now and then, I really like a picture except for the death-like lips, and hey–I’m a solution-driven person, and this is my way to make it all better.

Let’s start with the picture at hand: me, at an outdoor flea market, sporting a visor cap with fur growing out of the top. Please don’t ask further questions about this visor cap. The answers can only be disturbing.

Open ‘er up in Photoshop CS4:

1. Using the lasso tool (indented icon to the very left, second from the top), select the lips. It does help to zoom in to the area at hand before lassoing. To do that in a Mac, simply press ‘Command +’ until you’re at your desired closeness. To drag the image around so that the lips are in the center of your screen, hold down the ‘space’ bar and use the mouse to move the image about. Oh, and please ignore my little “actions” folder on the right, where “Resize for web V” is selected. It has nothing to do with this post.

2. Go to Image —> Adjustments —> “Selective Color.” Ever since I discovered Selective Color, I’ve been using it non-stop. Non-stop, I tell you.

3. Now, the color in my lips is a combination of both “reds” and “neutral,” so we’ll play with both selections in turn. First, select “reds.” Essentially, we’re telling the program to take pixels that fall into the ‘reds’ category, and adjust the color in them.

Now it’s time to play with the different sliders. As you can see, I am adding some “black” to the existing red in the selection, which essentially just makes it darker. I can also add some yellow if I want to warm up the color, and I’m definitely adding a little magenta. Mmmm.

The sad fact is that the pixels in my lips don’t qualify enough as ‘reds’ for you to see much of a difference. But wait! There is another step. And that step will be our salvation.

4. Next, I select “neutral.” Let’s be honest–that’s the color we’re dealing with.

Time to play with those sliders again, and this time I promise you’ll see a difference. Let’s add a little black . . .

Whoa! OK, not that much black!

Basically, just play with them there sliders until you have the look you want. Using this technique, the applications are countless. If you suffer from redness under your eyes, you can use this trick to select that area and reduce the “black” therein (which will essentially lighten it, though you have to make sure it blends well with the rest of the image). You can increase the “white” and reduce the “black” in the neutral pixels of your teeth. You can use it to bring out the blue in your subject’s eyes, or turn one eye red and one eye yellow–it’s up to you as Photoshop Master in Command.

After scaling back the black, adding some yellow and magenta and reducing the cyan, this is what happened:

It is to my liking. Enhanced, but still natural-looking. Amen.

Here they are side by side. If I had been a good girl I would have made side by side collage of the before-and-after pictures with a witty caption on it . . . but I didn’t. Please don’t tell Santa. The holidays are approaching fast, and I just know he’s waiting for me to slip up.

Thank you Photoshop for one more little miracle.

My parting words of wisdom to you are as follows: don’t go too hog wild. Always remember to use a light touch. You don’t want to completely lose perspective and turn a nice, innocent photo like this . . .

. . . into this :

Because take it from a woman who’s been there–that’s only a hair-breadth away from this debacle:

Eyes everywhere, lips sprouting from every available surface . . . I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sleep again. Vessie, I’m sorry I had to involve you in this mess.

Think light touch, people! Light touch!

Over and out!

New muscle in the house

So a week and a half ago I wrote this post expressing my fears surrounding the 2 hour exercise block I have involved myself in on Mondays at our local City of Chicago gym. The second hour is my beloved yoga class from last year, but the preceding hour was the dreaded cross training/conditioning class (aerobic exercise, conditioning, and weights).

I promised an update . . . so here it is: I love it. And it hurts. And I love it. And it hurts. It’s Wednesday, and I can still barely walk up and down the steps to the train platform.

The class setting helps so much. When I’ve tried to make myself do aerobic exercise on my own (jogging, the elliptical, etc.), I spend half the time fighting against my own desire to stop. It’s the most gigantic mental battle for me. “You can stop in just 5 minutes! C’mon, just 5 minutes and you can totally be done with this ridiculous business!” I promise myself slyly, knowing in my secret inner being that I will have to keep going for at least another 20 minutes. Self-deception is the only way I can trick myself into going longer and harder. And it’s a hard game to play, turning yourself against yourself. However, when there’s a teacher involved, I don’t even toy with the idea of stopping. I’m a teacher-pleaser and I always have been, so instead of fighting a battle of the wills with myself, I can just focus on doing what she tells us and taking myself to the limit. During the yoga class afterwards, my legs were shaking so badly I could barely hold a warrior pose.

And now for the big announcement: after week #2 of this dynamic combo, I have just discovered a new muscle.

For real. After my class this past Monday I was at home, looking in our hallway mirror and wondering whether I was going to get some hot musculature at some point. And lo and behold, I suddenly saw a new muscle about a finger’s length above my left knee! I flexed my leg a few times just to make sure it wasn’t a trick of the light, and there it remained. The rounded shadow of a small bulge.

At first I wrote it off as some kind of swelling produced by the intensity of the exercise. But as I did my devotional last night with my legs stretched out in front of me, there it was again! I bookmarked my place in Colossians and set my Bible down in order to inspect this new anatomical wonder with the care and attention it deserved. Right there in front of me was a little curve that has never been there before. And yes, it’s only on one leg. “Baby!” I called to my husband. “C’mere and look at this muscle on my left leg!” He came, he observed. “I think it’s new!” I exclaimed. I think he thought I was joking. “No seriously, this is my new muscle from my cross training class!” I explained enthusiastically, flexing my leg back and forth for maximum effect and pointing vigorously. “Dontcha see it? Dontcha see it?”

I put the question forth–what is this mysterious new muscle? And why has it shown up so quickly? Does it have a name, and is this name ‘Fred’?

I have done this small drawing because I know for a fact there are some doctor type people in my lovely assembly of readers. Could you please identify this body part and get back to me as quickly as possible? Should I be worried? Elated? Or is it all just a figment of my overheated brain? Will new muscles continue to crop forth week after week? And more importantly, when will my right leg also have a Fred on it?

OK, that sounded kind of weird. But you get my meaning–symmetry is important in this whole legs business.