Editing Magical Fairy Photos (Like a Pro)

Fairy Photography

Editing Magical Fairy Photos

Edit Like a Pro Series (Part 3)

Pretty Presets and Actions have completely changed my editing.  When I first started photography, my work was inconsistent and far from where it is today.  Using the presets and actions have simultaneously improved my work so much, not to mention all the regular tips and tutorials that Pretty Presets and Actions emails to keep me posted on things I have wanted to learn or improve on.

For this post, I will show you how I edit this floral hoop photo to create a realistic and magical fairy image utilizing both Lightroom & Photoshop.

Lightroom & Photoshop Facebook Group

    Are you ready to have some fun?  We'll start the tutorial using my SOOC (straight out of camera) floral hoop image:

    How to Do Fairy Photography

    Step 1: Apply a Preset in Lightroom

    I always start my edits in Lightroom.  In Lightroom I make the basic edits to color and exposure as well as add any presets that I want to enhance my image.  For this image, I chose a preset from Pretty Presets Summer collection.

    Mystical Fairy Pictures

    Step 2: Take the Image to Photoshop

    Once I've completed all the the basic edits to my image in Lightroom, I move my photo to Photoshop for all the fun stuff! 

    Moving your photos from Lightroom to Photoshop is super easy!  Simply use the Lightroom Keyboard Shortcut CMD (Mac)/CTRL (PC) + E.  If Photoshop isn't already open, it will begin opening and your image will appear in Photoshop.

    Fairy Photo Effects

    Step 3: Use the Clone and Heal Tools

    Once the photo was open in Photoshop, I removed the legs of the floral hoop using the Heal tool.  You can access the Photoshop Heal tool using the Photoshop keyboard shortcut J and then quickly run the tool over the legs of the hoop to remove them from your image.

    If you find that you need to be more precise, then use the Photoshop Clone tool.  With the Clone tool, you can select the area of your photo that you want to clone from by alt+clicking on an area of your image and then painting over the area you want to remove.

    Step 4: Sharpening Eyes & Mouth

    I usually like to sharpen my subject's eyes and mouth.  Its super easy to do that using one of my favorite (and most frequently used) Photoshop Action collections - the Pretty Retouch & Makeup Collection.  This set has so many wonderful actions for retouching portraits in Photoshop that I can't live without

    All the Photoshop Actions I talk about below are from this collection unless I mention otherwise.

    The first action I like to use from this collection is the "On the Spot Sharpener".  To run it, just highlight the action and then press the "Play" button (small sideways triangle) at the bottom of the Actions Palette. 

    Then I use a soft white brush to paint over the eyes and mouth of my subject.  Of course you can play around with the opacity of the layer as needed.

    For this image, I ended up increasing the opacity of the On the Spot Sharpen layer to 100% opacity.  Then I ran the action again and left the opacity as set by the action. 

    How to Create a Fairy Photo

    Step 5: Retouching Eyes

    Next, I will focus on my subject's eyes.  I start with the "Whiten Whites" action from the same collection as above.  I zoom in on my image (keyboard shortcut CMD/CTRL + =) and paint over ONLY the whites of the eyes. 

    Then I run the "Brush on Color Pop" action and paint over ONLY the colored part of the eyes - this will help enhance the color more to what they actually look like "in person".

    Finally, I run the "Smokey Eyes" action.  But not to give her a smokey eye.  I run this action and brush over the eyelashes to make them just a little bit darker.  Once again, you can play with the opacity of each of these to achieve the effect you are going for.

    Step 6: Retouching Lips

    For retouching lips, I use a combination of two actions.  First, I run the "Chapped Lips Fix" action and brush it over the lips - this helps remove noise and softens the lips.

    Second, run the "Pink Glossy Lips" action and once again brush it over the lips.  (Note: I often reduce the opacity of this layer on YOUNGER SUBJECTS to keep a more natural look to the lips.

    How to Edit Fairy Photo in Photoshop

    Step 7: Retouching Skin

    To retouch skin, I use a combination of five actions from the Retouch and Makeup Actions

    In this image, I am going for a painted, ethereal-look so I am going to go strong on the smoothing and use the "Heavy Duty Smoother" action.  After running this action, paint with a white brush over the skin areas of the image.

    Next, to further smooth her skin, I run the "Insta-Smooth Skin" action and adjust the opacity as needed.

    In this photo, my subject's skin was just little too red, so I ran the "Bye Bye Red" action.  Red is often the color I most need to remove from my subjects skin.  To do that, I just run the action and paint over any skin areas that seem a little too red (using a white brush).

    Next, I want to bring back some warmth to my subject's skin, so I run the "Luminous Skin" action and, once again, paint with a white brush over the skin areas of the photo - and more specifically, the areas where I removed some of the red using the previous action.

    Finally, I run the "Radiant Brightener" action to brighten the skin slightly and give it that perfect glow.  Once again, apply this over the skin areas of your photo using a white brush.

    How to Add Fairies in Photoshop

    Step 8: Darkening the Background

    For my flower hoop photos, I generally like to darken the background slightly to provide a bit more contrast between the subject and the background.

    To do that, I use the "Insta Dark Scene" action from the Holiday Magic Photoshop Action collection.  (Note: this super fun collection is only available seasonally so look for it around holiday time).

    After I run "Insta Dark Scene", which will darken the "entire photo", I brush over my subject using a black brush to keep them bright and in contrast to the now slightly darker background.

    NOTE: If you don't have the Holiday Magic collection, there are several other action collections that include a similar "darken image" action: Fix Exposure-Darken action in the Pure Color Workflow collection and Sundown in the Pastel Dreams collection.

    How to Make a Fairy Photo in Photoshop

    Step 9: Adding Fairy Wings and Light Effects

    Now for my favorite part - adding some fun fairy effects!  This step will really bring out the magic in your image!

    My go to is the Fairyland Actions and Overlays Collection, which has everything I need - fairy wings, sunrays, sun glows, fairy dust brushes and more. 

    The first thing I want to is add some pretty fairy wings.  Start by running the Fairy Wing Applicator action which will prompt you to navigate to the place on your computer where you have saved your fairy wing overlays.

    Once you have selected the fairy wing you want to add, you will need to resize and skew it slightly for placement.  Press ENTER when finished.  Then use a black brush to paint over any areas of your subject where the wing SHOULDN'T be showing.

    Each wing will need to be placed and adjusted separately, so repeat the step above for the other wing.  However, this time, flip the wing horizontally.  You can do this manually (Image>Transform>Flip Horizontal) or just use the Flip Overlay Horizontal action that's included in the Fairyland collection.

    Finally, I want to enhance the sun flare already in the image.  I do this by running the Sunray Applicator action from the same Fairyland Actions and Overlays Collection which again, prompts me to navigate to where my sunray overlays are stored on my computer. 

    Once I select the Sunray overlay, I resize and adjust as needed and press ENTER to place it.  Keep in mind, the applicator action allows you to customize your sunray in several different ways, including making it warmer, cooler, brighter adding blur, etc.  In addition, you can adjust it using the opacity slider.

    How to Add Fairy Wings in Photoshop

    Now that I have added Fairy Wings and a Sunray, my edit is complete.  Here's the final before and after:

    Fairy Photoshop Overlays

    I know it can be challenging to shoot an image that works well for this type of magical fairy edit, so I wanted to include a few quick photoshoot tips to help you get there:

    Fairy Photoshoot Tip #1: 

    Location:  To find a good location for your fairy photos, look for areas that have lots of trees, bushes, wildflowers, etc. in the background.  The more greenery (or other brush) the better!

    Fairy Photoshoot Tip #2:

    Bokeh:  To get a beautiful background blur to your image, set your subject some distance from the background and shoot as wide open as you feel comfortable.  This will help you achieve that perfect creamy bokeh that will add to the whimsical feel of your photo.

    Fairy Photoshoot

    Fairy Photoshoot Tip #3:

    Background:  Avoid over-exposing the background.  Choose a heavily shaded area if possible with soft light peeking through - this is especially important if you want to add fireflies, fairy lights, and sun rays later in your edit.

    If you are a more visual learner or just want to follow along with me as I create my Fairy edit, make sure to watch my video below:

    Magical Fairy Edit Video

    Collections Karina used in her edit:

    Do you have any questions or comments about How to Edit Magical Fairy Photos?  Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (We really appreciate it)!

    Fairy Wing Overlays