Whether you are a professional photographer or do it as a hobby, people expect you to click great portraits. One of the recurring problems with portrait photography is a barrier between the subject and the light source while clicking the photo.

For example, someone raises their hand if a light source is in front of them. This creates unwanted shadows that are challenging to remove.

This wikiHow teaches you how to remove unwanted shadows from portraits in Photoshop without losing a lot of photo detail. This technique is also useful for removing shadows from another image.

how to remove shadow from portrait in photoshop

Depending on the hardness of the shade, the complexity and time to remove it will vary. Follow these steps to remove shadows from your portrait.

You’ve created a check layer to get rid of the colors when working with shadows. Since there will be a certain color shift in the dark area when brightening the image, it is best to use a check layer. After doing that, keep following the steps below.

2. Fix Glare

Now, we’re going to remove the shadow from the portrait.

Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and select the Hand Tool. Place it on the shadow part and run the curves tool to make it shiny. You can also reduce the brightness of the light areas if necessary. If you’re not sure how to do this, see our Photoshop Curves Tool guide.

If you’ve done additional brightening on areas other than the shadows, press X to change the foreground color to black and paint over the bright part with Flow set to 1%.

Create another Curves adjustment layer, select a point in the center of the curve, and slide it slightly toward the left-top corner.

This will brighten up the image more for a natural look.

Double-click the right side of the new Curves layer to open Blend If, and while holding down the Alt key, click the white pointer below the underlying layer to break it. Now, bring one part of the pointer near the deepest part. This will only affect the shadow part to make it a bit brighter.

That’s it. You have taken care of the shadows. You can now hide the gray checked layer to see how your image looks.

3. Color Correct

Sometimes you miss the natural colors when working with shadows. To remove any spotty colors from your portrait, follow the steps below.

Start painting over your image to make the colors look as natural as possible. You may have to repeat this process for smaller parts of your portrait, choosing a closer color each time.

Finally, press Shift + Alt + Ctrl + E to create a new layer of all visible layers—this will create one layer out of all your edits.

Go to Filters > Camera Raw Filters, and tweak settings like exposure, shadows, textures, details, clarity, etc. to give the final touch to your image. Press Enter once you are satisfied with your edits. Check out our complete guide on using Camera Raw in Photoshop.

That is all. You have successfully removed unwanted shadows from your portrait.

Depending on the intensity of the light source, it can sometimes be challenging to brighten an image without losing detail. In this case you have to take some additional steps…

What if the shadows are too harsh?

If the shadows are too harsh, ie the light source is too strong or too close to the subject, it can be difficult to get the proper brightness level and color. If you’ve followed the above steps and still can’t remove the shadow from the image, you’ll need to redraw that part of the image.

In the portrait examples below, it is impossible to remove the shadows using the above method alone. Therefore, you should use the Patch Tool and Content-Aware Fill to help you remove the shadow completely.

Start by selecting the shadow borders and replacing them with the surrounding natural skin. This will create a mix of both the areas. So, you’ll get the skin texture back in the shadow while removing the harsh outline. Repeat this process until you have removed all parts of the shadow.

Hold down the Alt key and click the area you want to sample, then click the area you want to transform.

As a final touch, press Shift + Alt + Ctrl + E to create a new layer containing all visible layers and open the Camera Raw filter once again. Now you can make any other minor adjustments like texture and clarity.

Improve your portraits by removing unwanted shadows

Eliminating unwanted shadows on portraits can be one of the most challenging tasks for a photographer. If you are observant enough, you can avoid this mistake at the shooting stage. However, if luck is not on your side, use this method to effortlessly remove shadows from your images.

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