How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App

How to use the Windows 10 free photo editing app 'Photos' to enhance and edit portraits.

| Portraits and People

If you've downloaded Windows 10, you'll be able to access the free photo editing app which is simply titled 'Photos'. You don't have to download it from the Windows app store has it's already installed and for a basic piece of editing software, it's actually really good. Previously, we've taken a look at all of the tools and features this software has to offer so if you're looking for a basic introduction to the app, that's the article for you. This time, we're focusing on portraits so you can see what exactly can be achieved with this free photo editing app when you put your people shots through it. 


Edit Options 

Once you've opened your image (see our previous for instructions on how to do this) you need to click on the pencil icon (Edit) to access the various photo editing tools / options available to you. 

How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Windows Photos App Edit Options


By clicking this icon, the following options become available to you: Basic fixes, Filters, Light, Color and Effects. These options appear to the left of the image and the subedits found under each of these options appear to the right of the image. 


Basic Fixes

At the top of the list is Basic fixes which give you access to: Enhance, Rotate, Crop, Straighten, Red-eye and Retouch. Enhance makes automatic adjustments to your image should you wish the software to correct / adjust your shot for you. These can be manually tweaked should you think they need it, too.

Rotate, Crop, Straighten and  Red-eye are all rather self-explanatory and probably aren't tools you'll use for every portrait, plus we've talked through them in more detail in the Photos app overview we previously published on site. However, the final option under this heading is a tool you'll more than likely put into use each time you want to edit a photo in this app and it's called Retouch.


How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Windows 10 Photos editing app


Retouch Option 

As the name suggests, Retouch is used to, well, retouch your image. If you've ever used the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop you'll soon see that the Retouch tool is a very simplified version of this. When selected, a blue circle appears which you place over a blemish you want to remove. To remove it, simply click your mouse button and the software disguises / removes it. The tool seems to work by looking at the pixels around it and cloning them in place over the blemish you want to be removed. As a result, it doesn't always work successfully but you can just undo your action and try again if this is so. We had some trouble with the dark areas under the eyes as the tool kept placing small dark circles on our lovely model's skin but after undoing the process and starting again from another direction, the problem was soon eradicated.

Unlike the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop, the Retouch tool can't be adjusted in size or strength so if you have large areas that need retouching, it can take a while. However, for the odd spot removal it's very useful and you can use the + tool which appears in the bottom right of the screen to zoom in to make editing easier, too. 


How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Retouch option in Windows 10 photos app


How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Before and after using the retouch tool in Windows Photos App

Left: Before the Retouch tool was used, Right: After making edits with the Retouch tool. 

Applying Filters 

Under this option, you'll find pre-defined filters you can apply to your image to change its look / feel. Two add warmth, one more than the other, one cools the temperature of the shot and the final two options add a vignette and convert your image to black and white. To apply a filter effect, simply click on the one you wish to apply.  

if you like the look of one of the filter effects but feel it needs a little adjustment, you can use the options found under the other headings (Light, Color, Effects) to do this. For example, we used the black & white filter but then tweaked the highlights, shadows and contrast options to improve the shot further.


How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Before shot on the left and the after shot with a filter applied on the right

Left: No filter, Right: b&w filter applied.


How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Before shot on the left and the after shot with a filter applied on the right

Left: No filter, Right: filter applied. 

Adjusting Light Options 

Under the Light tab you'll find options for adjusting the Brightness, Contrast, Highlights and Shadows in your image. To edit a particular option, click on it and a circle will appear which you can drag clockwise or anticlockwise to reduce / increase the effect. When working with a portrait, you could find all of these options useful. On our image, we increased the brightness and contrast levels slightly then increased the shadows slider by around 20 points to bring out more detail in the shadow areas. 

How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Light adjustments in Windows 10 Photos App

Left: No filter, Right: After brightness, contrast, highlights and shadows were adjusted, plus Retouch tool used. 


Playing Around With Colour

The Color tab gives you access to Temperature, Tint, Saturation and Color boost options. As with previous edits, click on one of the options and a circle will appear which you can drag clockwise or anticlockwise to reduce / increase the effect. Although, Color boost works a little differently which will discuss in more detail shortly.

As the name suggests, Temperature adjusts the warmth / coolness of the shot. To add a little summer light, pull the dial clockwise or if a cool, winter feel is more your thing, move the dial anticlockwise instead. We found subtlety was the key with this particular adjustment option, but you may find a stronger effect works well with your image so do experiment. 

Tint adds a colour tint to your shot and it won't suit all portraits but it can give your images a lomo twist if you like that particular effect, while Saturation can boost colour or remove it completely from the image. 


How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Temperature adjustment on a portrait in the windows 10 photos app

Left: Original, Right: Temperature cooled. 


Boosting Colours 

The Color boost option is actually a really interesting feature that can be used to make a particular colour 'pop'. You can make the adjustments as subtle or strong as you like and you can also boost more than one colour.

To use the tool, click and drag it to a colour in the image you want to boost. For example, we placed it on our model's hair to boost the shade. Be careful when using this tool as by boosting certain colours you can create colour casts on other parts of the image. In our shot, an orange glow appeared around the edges of the face when we boosted the colour of our model's hair too much. This tool can also be used to reduce the punch of a particular colour, too. This feature's useful for toning down distracting colours that may be in the background of a shot such as the yellow strip you can see just to the right of our model's head in the image below.

To make an adjustment on a different part of the image, simply click and drag the dropper symbol to where you want it to be. 


How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Colour boosting in the Windows 10 Photos App


Create A Vignette

Vignettes are a really useful tool photographers can use to subtly focus the viewer's attention on a particular part of an image. In our shot, we want focus to fall on our lovely model's face so a subtle dark vignette was applied around the edges to pull the viewer's eyes to her face. To add a dark vignette, click on the tool and pull the circular control clockwise. You can also create a white vignette by pulling the control the other way. We've used the word 'subtle' as you don't want the vignette to be too obvious as it'll just become a distraction if it is. 

How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Adding a vignette


Playing With Selective Focus 

This tool doesn't have a circular control you turn, instead a circle with anchor points and a + symbol in its centre appears. Everything inside the shape is in focus while everything around it is thrown out of focus. For portraits, you may want to throw the background out of focus so all attention falls on the person in your shot so by placing the circle over their face and adjusting the anchor points, you'll be able to do this. 

The shape can be clicked and dragged to alter its position, plus its height and width can be adjusted. Towards the top of the interface you'll see an aperture symbol and this allows you to adjust the strength of the effect, making the out of focus areas more / less blurry (as you would when adjusting the aperture on a camera). Next to this symbol are the icons you use to apply the effect when you're happy (tick) and a button which allows you to exit this mode without making any changes (X). 

How To Edit Portraits In The Windows 10 Photos App: Adjusting focus in the Windows 10 Photos App


Saving & Sharing Images 

In the top toolbar there are floppy disc icons which are used for saving your work. By clicking on the first floppy disc symbol you can save a copy of your new portrait without overwriting the original while the second icon overwrites the original file. You can also close the image without making any changes and toggle between a 'before and after' view, too. Here's where the 'undo' and 'redo' buttons also sit, but you can also use the Windows keyboard shortcuts of Ctrl + Z and Ctrl + Y to use these. 

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