Fast and Easy Matte Photo Effect in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop

01
of 03

Enhance Your Photos with a Fast and Easy Matte Effect

A Fast and Easy Matte Effect for Your Photos
Text © Liz Masoner, Photo Public Domain via Pixabay.

The bright and slightly gauzy matte effect has become very popular in portrait photography over the last year or two.  Presets for this look are out there by the boatload and can cost a lot of money.  Five minutes on Pinterest and you are likely to see over a dozen different completing plug-ins all wanting your money. There really is no need to spend money on those presets though.  Getting a great matte effect for your photos is as simple as a levels adjustment.  Let me show you how in this step by step tutorial.  You will see how fast and easy it really is to give your photos a matte effect in just a few mouse clicks.

I’m using PSE12 for this particular tutorial but the process should work in any version that allows level adjustments and masks, including regular Photoshop.

02
of 03

Create a Levels Adjustment Layer

Create a Levels Adjustment Layer
Text © Liz Masoner, Photo Public Domain via Pixabay.

Once you have your photo open and basic editing (cropping, sharpening, color, etc.) done, create a .  The fastest way to do this is to click on the small two-color circle icon above the layers display and select Levels from the drop down menu.  Photoshop Elements will create a masked adjustment layer and open the levels adjustment menu.  Use the black slider at the bottom of the levels menu, Output Levels, and slide it to the right a bit.  This changes the darkest black point in the photo.  As you drag the slider right, you will see the photo become more matte and gauzy.  Then use the normal sliders at the top of the menu and brighten the photo overall a bit with the white and midtone sliders.

Do not worry about blown out highlights right now.  We will fix those in a moment.  Right now, concentrate on getting the amount of bright matte effect you want to give your photo.  Remember you can always make another levels adjustment later if you decide you want more light after you finish the tutorial.

03
of 03

Final Adjustments to the Fast Matte Effect

Final Adjustments to the Fast Matte Effect
Text © Liz Masoner, Photo Public Domain via Pixabay.

Okay, now we’ll fix any blown out highlights that creating the matte effect may have caused in your photo.  Click on the mask next to the layers icon to highlight the mask.  This is why we used a levels adjustment layer instead of just adjusting levels directly on the photo in the last step.

Select a fuzzy brush from the brush menu and set opacity to around 50% with the brush color set to black.  Now, paint over the blown out areas on the mask.  This will remove some of the matte effect from that area and reduce the blown out highlight.  Because these areas are already so bright, they will not stand out from the rest of the photo as you paint away the matte effect.

Do not worry about blending in your edges right now, just get the blown out sections painted away.  Once you have done that, go to the filter menu and select Gaussian blur.  Move the slider until the painted area of the mask is fuzzy and will blend well.

Now you have a fast and easy matte look to your photo without the expense of a plug in.

Further editing options:

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Masoner, Liz. "Fast and Easy Matte Photo Effect in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop." ThoughtCo, Feb. 17, 2016, thoughtco.com/photoshop-elements-matte-effect-1702656. Masoner, Liz. (2016, February 17). Fast and Easy Matte Photo Effect in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/photoshop-elements-matte-effect-1702656 Masoner, Liz. "Fast and Easy Matte Photo Effect in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/photoshop-elements-matte-effect-1702656 (accessed December 11, 2017).