Brushes menu in Photoshop

The Narcissist’s Guide to Taking the Perfect Selfie

Zoe Butters Digital Marketing, Photoshop Tutorials Leave a Comment

Including Simple Editing Techniques in Photoshop

The online community is the biggest platform to getting yourself known as well as being home to the most difficult competition. You are forever playing with the camera trying to catch that perfect angle or that slight glint in your eye but something isn’t working and you just cant put your finger on it. Fear no more. Take that perfect selfie by following these simple steps and you could be uploading hundreds of photos online every minute.

Taking the Perfect Selfie:


First rule; never face the camera straight on, unless you’re an artist making a statement.

The most flattering angles are to the side. Face your body side on to the camera and turn your head. This technique ensures slimming to the face, breaks the light up and creates shadows.

Looking upwards towards the camera also creates shadows along the cheekbones, chin and along the nose.

Bring that chin forward.

On so many occasions when posing people, I have noticed a tendency to bring the chin inwards or moving the whole face up so I’m left staring at a neck. This is a big no. Just very slightly move the chin towards the camera; this again, creates shadows, slimming the neck and jaw line and eliminates that dreaded double chin.

Don’t overdo it however as you may end up resembling a turkey.


Lighting is the most important element when taking a photo.

If you have the wrong kind of lighting, such as yellow florescent kitchen lighting, this is never going to produce a flattering self-portrait. Of course, I’m not telling you to go out and buy the latest studio lighting on the market, in fact windows can work perfectly.

The flooded white light that is often reproduced from a window is soft and very forgiving on the skin. Place yourself near a window and try it out, you’ll be surprised at the difference it’ll make to your photos.

Avoid on-camera flash; this light can be very harsh and unforgiving. It has a knack of bringing out every blemish and pimple, unless that’s what you’re going for of course.


The window to your soul as they say, so let’s see how you can make the most of them.

Try to use the focusing point on the camera to focus on your eyes. Most smartphones have a focusing box that can be moved manually, use this to your advantage. The sharpest point in a portrait should be the eyes, these are what draws the viewer in and helps them to relate to you as a person.

Try to use catch-light.

Catching light in the eyes makes them pop. Look for the source of the light you want to catch in the pupil and look at it when taking the photo, or if possible angle the light in such a position as to how you want it to shine.

Another great technique that I have used as a photographer is asking the model to close the eyes and then having them open them at the last second as the photo is being taken. On many occasions I have looked at the photo and the time between the model standing and the shutter closing, the model has changed the expression in the eyes subconsciously. This technique brings an element of surprise to the eyes therefore giving the impression of a bright and alert gaze.

Editing Techniques in Photoshop


There are many tools in Photoshop used in conjunction with the skin to smooth, slim, colour, tone, erase.. the list goes on.

If I explained how to use them all I think we would all get lost and somewhat confused.

So instead, I’ll show you the most effective, yet simple methods.

Spot Healing Brush Tool

For this, Photoshop uses Content-Aware, processing the images elements when using the tool to automatically clone another part of the same content. This tool is ideally suited to ridding your image of any blemishes and spots. Simply click on the area of the skin that you want to remove and Photoshop does the rest.

If you’re looking for more control over your selection, click on the Healing Brush Tool located underneath the Spot Healing tool on the tools panel (hold down the left mouse click to access the hidden associated tools). Hold down the ALT key to select the part of the image you want to replace the blemish with, this will ensure it will only take the selection from where you have clicked on the image.

How to take the perfect selfie

Surface Blur

Applying a surface blur is very quick and simple.

This tool basically blurs the skin area and effectively reduces any wrinkles, lines and blemishes.

First, go to Filter on the menu panel, then click Blur and Surface Blur.

A task box will appear with two sliders. Use the top slider to apply the amount of the effect you want to use; the second slider controls the threshold of the blur.

Photoshop screenshot

Photoshop menu screenshot

You can use the Eraser Tool over the eyes and eyebrows after using surface blur to preserve the sharpness in the eyes and hairs.


Start by clicking on the Brush Tool, at the top of the window select the airbrush preset as shown below.

Photoshop techniques

Going left along the top panel click on Opacity and take that down to around 23%

Photoshop screenshot for editing selfies

Then make sure the brush hardness in the brush tools box is set to 0% and choose the size of the brush.

Brushes menu in Photoshop

Hold down the ALT key to select the colour of the brush from an area of the face you want to airbrush, you will need to do this for lighter and darker areas of the face. Simply brush over the area. If you make a mistake, simply press Command Z or Control Z for Windows Users and redo, play around with the Opacity and colour.

Editing Eyes

The Spot Healing Brush tool can also be used to remove any veins or lines in the eyes and any makeup beneath the eyes.

Leave enough detail however so you don’t look like a mannequin the eyes are the area of your face that make your personality shine, so do try to bear this in mind.

Use the Dodge Tool to lighten areas of the eyes and the Burn Tool to darken. These can be used on makeup or shadows underneath the eyes and to brighten the whites of the eyes. When selecting these tools, do make sure the effect is subtle by adjusting the hardness of the brush to low and the flow of the brush to 50%, this is found at the top of the window.

The Sponge Tool is useful for bringing out the colour of the iris’. Select the Sponge tool from the tools panel, at the top of the window and take the Brush Hardness down to 0%, Mode to Saturate and flow to 50%. Move the sponge over the iris to increase the saturation.Photoshop screenshot editing menu

This will give your iris’ that full colour glow.

It’s important to note that these tools require a soft touch approach. Overdo it and you may end up regretting it and ending up with an image that looks nothing like you and comes across as fake. Use these wisely, and these simple tools can really accentuate your fabulous features.

Selfies are of course all the rage these days and even the post teens/twenties can often be found taking a portrait when out and about with their own kids or grandkids. It’s a bit of fun and a great way to catalogue life in the digital age.

So get yourself out there – avoid duck face – and take some amazing selfies – the perfect selfie -, then get home and edit so that you can present your best face to the world. Hey, it might not be 100% your true face, but it works for celebs so us lesser mortals might as well have a crack – huh? 😉

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Zoe is a BA Hons Photographer who has sailed the world as a cruise ship photographer, honing her skills on Adobe products and creating wonderful landscapes and urban artwork. She enjoys teaching Adobe tips and tricks to markITwrite readers who want to learn design and its principles and art.

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