One of the big problems that we encounter when we are working with photos that comprise two people is the issue of one being light and the other being dark. The problem with this contrast is that typically the darker skinned person lasers to much (because the image has so many dots) and thus that person looks washed out. Typically to correct this r(lighten our image) requires that we adjust our photo to create more contrast in the darker skinned person. The problem is that we end up blowing out the detail on our lighter skinned person at the same time when we lighten the dark image. For this reason we need to adjust our image for the lighter skin person and then to do some localized adjustment on our darker skinned person.
Note: I know that some people may be offended by suggesting that you lighten themselves up but the alternative is that they will not be engraved out as well which may offset their issue.
In this lesson we will look at how this technique is done.
Here is our Text Image
Here is our test image. We have a good difference in terms of dark skin versus white skin. I can not use the contrast enhancement command as lightening up the male would blow out the female. Vice Versa the darkening of the female will blow out the make.
Desaturate Our Image
Desatuate the image so that we remove the colour within the image.
Here is Our Desaturated Image
Here is our image desaturated. The difference in the colour of the two people will create issues when I go to laser engrave the photo.
Do A Contrast Enhancement
My first step after converting my image to grayscale is to apply a contrast enhancement to the image. This is a standard effect that I use all the time. The problem with a person that is white skin and one that is dark skin is that if we adjust for the white skin the dark does not get done enough. Vice versa if we adjust for the dark skin the light skin gets blown out. Thus we can only adjust for one person. Typically I will adjust for the white skinned person as opposed to the dark skin person. Note: my adjustment has lightened up both but more so the girl than the guy. Notice how I have got my 4 areas of lightness happening here that I have outlined with red circles. These areas are typically zones of more whiteness that the surrounding area. Typically when I am laser engraving a photo I am looking to create a large contrast in the image as well as to eliminate some of the detail. This technique does this for me. The image on the right has more contrast than the image on the left (original).
We are now going to selectively lighten up our photo.
The Effect Propery Bar
When you select the Effects command you will notice that the property bar shows the characteristics of the Effects command. The pull down menu is allows me to select either dodge commands or burn commands (1). The shape of the nib is (2). You can change the size of the nib to make it bigger or smaller (3).
Select the Dodge Highlights
From the pull down menu I have selected the Dodge Highlights (1).
Paint the Whole Image WIth The Dodge Highlights Command
When you select the Dodge tool your cursor will turn in to a circle (1). Drag the cursor around the face of the male.
Our First Pass
Our first pass has lightened up our image but only the highlights which are the whitest areas. We now need to tackle the mid tones as these are the most prevalent in the image. Note: when you are dragging your cursor around you need to never let it go and finish the whole area that you want to adjust which in this case is the whole face. When you done let go of the mouse. Using this technique will only allow you to do one adjustment until you let go of the mouse. This keeps your adjustment consistent.
Select Dodge Mid tones
Select Dodge Mid tones from the pull down menu.
Our Second Pass
I repeated the same steps with the second pass as I did with the first pass. Notice the person on the right is getting lighter.
Our Third Pass
Here is our second pass with the mid tone brush. Our two people are now getting closer to each other in terms of skin tone.
Our Fourth Pass
Here is our third pass with the mid tone brush. Our two people are now a lot closer to each other in terms of skin tone.
Apply Unsharp Mask
As is usual I never process a photo without applying an unsharp mask adjustment
Our Image is Ready to Engrave
Here is my adjusted image and is ready to sent to the laser machine
We Need a Control Image
Before we go to engrave the photo that we adjusted it is best to see what the original image is going to look like when it is engraved. As you can see it is actually engraving really well. Now you may be asking me why would you even worry about the image if it engraves up fine with out being adjusted. Well maybe the image looks fine on anodized aluminum but it does not look good on wood or granite or glass. The problem is that the lighter parts of the image require more power to engrave than the darker images. Thus if we apply more power to engrave the lighter parts the dark parts get blown out. Wen it comes to anodized aluminum it will show very fine detail and you do not need a lot of power to laser the image. As you can see this image is crystal clear. All I did was convert it to gray sharpen the image and laser it.
Here Is Our Adjusted Image
Here is our adjusted image lasered on a piece of aluminum. Now I know you are probably saying heh Mike the first image looks better and you are right. However what is important to note is that the two individuals here have the same complexion now. They are even and this is what this tutorial is about. I have lightened up the person on the right so that they are similar in terms of colouring. Doing this allows me to be more consistent with my power.
Here is Our image on Wood
Okay now let us look at wood. You can see that now we are running into the problem where the person on the left is blown out while the person on the right is good. If the two people had a similar skin tone than I would get more consistent results.
Here is Our Adjusted Image
Here is our adjusted image. You can see from the example that the images are consistent. However the image is not that good. But if we look at the previous image you will notice the male is good and the female is not. Thus because our male image is darker we need to make our female image darker.
We need to Burn Our image
Instead of dodging our image we will burn our image (1). To darken our image we use the same techniques as we did with the Dodge command.
Our Burned Image
You can see that we have achieved very good detail now on both images using the burn technique. I have darkened up the girl so that she matches the boy.