Photoshop Friday : Newborn Editing

A lot of people asked me about my newborn post processing, and what I “do to my photos” in photoshop.  For many images, my goal is as little as possible other than white balance!  That works much of the time, but newborns usually have some magenta and blotchiness that needs some further tweaking in PS.

So we will cover how to go from blue blotchy baby:

photoshop newborn post processing

to gorgeous warm creamy skin!


This video is in two parts because it’s a bit long.. the first part covers how I use a digital grey kard while I’m shooting , how I use it to adjust white balance in LR (or ACR it would be the same) and then how I use an inverted highlights selection to brighten everything but the highlights:

The second part covers using the spot healing and patch tools to get rid of blotches and blemishes and also how to use a levels adjustment layer mask to get rid of any remaining dark magenta areas:

Let me know if you have any questions!

PS, I did this on a different monitor that hasn’t been calibrated for quite some time, so my skin tones may be look  a tad off, but the principles are the same :)

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carol brewerton says:

i have just done first baby shoot and the whole body has that red mottled look, what tecnique would you use for that much editing…..

ariana says:

You could use the patch tool on the really bad spots, but for these situations portraiture will be your best friend!

carol brewerton says:

Thanks Ariana, i have just bought Portrature and it works so well with the problem . baby looks so much better

Tracey says:

Hi there,

So love your website and fantastic tools – thank you for sharing!!

Won’t you send me a price for the wall display guide?

Many thanks, Tracey.

Tina Hursh says:

Thank you, thank you, so much! Your instruction was so clear and easy to understand. I appreciate your taking time to make this for us. :)

Jenn says:

Love the tutorial! I am SO glad I found this!!! Love the selection tip on the 1st video!! Thank you!!!!!

chantelle prejean says:

hey i want to know what ps version you are using here and how to get those specific windows up i recently started using cs5 and have no idea what im doing

I love the recovery slider and wb stuff
and all the tools under the basic window

Gina says:

This is so helpful!!Thank you for taking the time to do this!

Julia says:

I just found you! Awesome, thank you so much! I’m really struggling though highlighting….I have CS5 and I’m on a Mac. Do you know the shortcut? I can’t even find it w/out the shortcut. Thanks!

Maru says:

Great tutorial! Can’t wait to try it. My question is that I only have photoshop. Can I adjust the white balance with a picture using the graycard like you did in Photoshop instead of LR?

Amber says:

Thank you for this. It helped me a lot!

ariana says:

Hi Sarah, the CS3 command to select the hightlights is different, I believe it’s Cntl+alt+~ but for you or anyone else that is having a hard time getting this selection to work, you can always go under the select menu and choose “color range” and from there choose “highlights” from the drop down! Then, from the select menu choose select inverse, and then do your curves adjustment!

Sarah says:

Hi! So glad I found your blog! GREAT tutorials :) When I follow your steps to lighten midtones/shadows for some reason it’s applying the levels adjustment to the whole photo and not just the selection. Do you think I’m missing something obvious? Or is it maybe just a setting on my CS3? Thanks so much!

ashley h says:

HI…GOOD stuff!!

Do you know if there’s a shortcut in Elements 8.0 to select highlights like you did with CS3 (the CTRL/Shift/~)? I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find it…

ariana says:

Kelsey – no, it TOTALLY doesn’t matter what is in the picture with the gray card! The reason I use the doll is so that I have something to meter off of, which is a whole separate issue :)

I like to use the doll to position, check that I like the lighting, meter off of the doll’s “skin” all before I lay the baby down so I don’t waste any shots once baby is in place!

Kelsey says:

K so this will probably sound really stupid but this will be my first newborn shoot on saturday, when taking a picture with the digital grey card do you need to put a doll in it? haha I am a complete beginner so I just wanted to make sure :]

Alicia says:

Ari! I FINALLY got around to watching this as I just downloaded the Lightroom trial (for the next 8 days – eek)! Your tuts are the best by far – thank you SO much! You rock!!!

Andrea says:

Your tips are great! Is there anyway to fix the skin tones in just lightroom? I have tried the lightroom trial and LOVE it, but can not afford both lightroom and photoshop, so I’m trying to do as much as possible in lightroom alone. Can it be done?

Tammy says:

Thanks for you video.

Natasha says:

Hi there

I just watched your video and I am trying to figure out the quick keys for selecting highlights and inverse on a mac cs3?!? Can you help!?!? Thanks for the great video!

Lisa says:

Thanks for the awesome tutorial!

Sarah says:

I loved your recent newborn photo posts. So precious! It’s easy to forget how delicate they are in the beginning (I say this as Finn runs and jumps around in front of me like a little wildman). My sister is pregnant with twins, and I can’t wait to photograph them in a few months. But although I just got a new lens for my birthday, I have yet to get any good editing software. Perhaps I should have put that on my wishlist instead…

Nallely says:

Hi Ariana, I just found your website today. I think you are awesome. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Will be back to visit!

Michelle Dry says:

I couldn’t understand what you said was to select highlight in CS3. It sounded like Ctrl+Alt+ tilda ? If that is what you said, what is tilda?

ariana says:

Michelle, it’s ctl+alt+ ~

Emily says:

You are so wonderful to share this with us. I have learned so much from you! And I think I am getting mojo from your camera!

Kristen says:

Thanks Ariana!!

ariana says:

I decided to post it today instead of Friday but I guess my attempt to change the post title didn’t work.. oh well, I’m sure you all will appreciate the weekend coming a day early :)

Ava says:

I love Photoshop Fridays :)

Amanda says:

Awesome tutorial!! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this for us. Really, really helpful!!

Lindsay says:

Thanks for posting this! I never realized that you could do a curves adjustment on only the inverse of the highlights and never understood how you use adding color to correct color. I can’t wait to try this out!

Catharine says:

wow, fantastic. Love to see the workflow!