Matte Photo Finish

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Matte Photo Finish
by Jenifer Juris

Use a levels adjustment layer to easily give a digital photo a matte finish.

Step One: Open a Photo

This technique can work on any photo, but it usually works best on photos that have good contrast with varying areas of highlights and shadows. Just make sure the shadows don’t have important details, as this effect will reduce the details visible in the shadowed areas.

  • Open a photo (File > Open).
  • In the Menu Bar, choose File > Duplicate. Click OK. (Photoshop: Choose Image > Duplicate.)
  • Close the original photo.

 

 

Step Two: Apply a Matte Finish

  • In the Layers panel, click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon and choose Levels.
  • In the Levels (Properties) panel, set the Channel to RGB.
  • Drag the Shadow slider to the right until the details in the shadows start to disappear. The photo should appear much darker.

Note: For bright photos, this will usually require a larger adjustment. For my photo, I moved the Shadow slider to 52. If you need help navigating the Levels dialog box, reference the image at the end of this step.

 

 

  • Drag the Black Output slider to the right until the photo looks properly exposed again.

Note: This will also add a slight amount of haze to the photo. For my photo, I moved the Black Output slider to 70. The amount of adjustment is up to you, just remember you still want the photo to have proper exposure.

 

 

  • (Optional) If the photo is too dark, drag the Highlights slider slightly to the left. You shouldn’t need to drag it very far in order to brighten it back up. For my photo, I did not need to do that.
  • The changes are saved automatically. Close the Levels (Properties) panel if you wish.
  • (Optional) To make additional changes to the levels, double click on the levels icon in the Layers panel to open it back up.

 

 

Step Three: Save the Photo

  • Press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd E) to merge the layers together.
  • Save the photo (File > Save As) as a JPG file with a unique name.

Here’s a side by side before and after look at my photo. As you can see, this effect is subtle, but it adds a softness to your image without sacrificing many of the details.

 

 

Whether you just want to add a hint of softness to your photo for an artsy scrapbook page or you want a matte finish for a photo project, you can use this quick and easy matte finish over and over again.

Here are a few examples of how I used this photo finish. This first example is a photo project:

 

Before the Matte Finish
Before the Matte Finish
After the Matte Finish
After the Matte Finish

Credits:
Photo: Jenifer Juris
Tutorial: Matte Photo Finish by Jenifer Juris
Font: Amelia Script

 

This second example is another photo project:

Before the Matte Finish
Before the Matte Finish
After the Matte Finish
After the Matte Finish

Credits:
Photo: Jenifer Juris
Tutorial: Matte Photo Finish by Jenifer Juris
Fonts: Money Penny, Amelia Script

 

And here’s the scrapbook page I made using the photo from this tutorial:

Before the Matte Finish
Before the Matte Finish
After the Matte Finish
After the Matte Finish

Credits:
Photo & Page: Jenifer Juris
Tutorial: Matte Photo Finish by Jenifer Juris
Kit: APP Beautiful Day by Anna Aspnes
Extras: Framed Fotoblendz 1 by Anna Aspnes, Framed Masks 1 by Anna Aspnes
Fonts: Veteran Typewriter, Adelicia Script

 

Using the matte finish here adds a subtle softness that really helped give my projects the artistic feel I wanted them to have. I can’t wait to see you use this technique in your digital art!

 

After posting your results online,
return here and include the link in the comments.

 

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Jenifer JurisAuthor: Jenifer Juris | Contact Us
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9 Responses

  1. Rikki
    | Reply

    This is great, thanks so much. It is such an easy way and the effect turns out wonderful.

  2. Regency Fan
    | Reply

    I guess these old eyes don’t see the same as others. The only difference I see in the before and after shots is a subtle enlargement in the after photos. I’ve enjoyed so many of the tutorials, but I can skip this one. That’s what is so great about Digital Scrapper. It provides such a wide variety of techniques that there will eventually be something for everyone.

  3. Mary King
    | Reply

    Thank you! I really like the large format of the PDF download, easy for “Senior eyes” to read. Since taking Jenifer’s card class I know I always like whatever she does. I will definitely give this one a try.

    • Jenifer Juris
      | Reply

      You’re welcome! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  4. Su Hall
    | Reply

    I have tried using Curves to achieve this look and never seem to get it right! LOL I will try your way and see what happens. I have been using Levels and moving only the left-side slider up, until the darks lighten up. It looks alright. I dunno!
    Thank you very much for your tutorial! The image is beautiful with it!

    • Jenifer Juris
      | Reply

      Thanks!! If you give this version a try, let me know how it goes! 🙂

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