Great boudoir photography starts with great poses, but if you’re just starting out it may be hard to know how to direct your models to get those amazing shots right off the bat, or, you see things after the shoot that you would like to fix. Either way, Photoshop is an amazing tool that all photographers need to know how to navigate to help take their photos to the next level. It’s pretty much standard for everyone in the nude photography and boudoir industry to know how to work their way around Photoshop, but if you’re just getting started, there are some essential tools you need to know about to help aid you in post-production of your shoots.

Liquify
The first tool in Photoshop that you should know about is the liquify filter. It’s one of the most common tools used in Photoshop for any photographer, not just nude and boudoir photographers, and can help you with many aspects of your photos. It’s used for photo manipulation, meaning you can transform or alter your photograph and the subject in it. With the liquify filter, you can push, pull, rotate, reflect, pucker, or bloat any area of an image. Nude and boudoir photographers typically use the liquify filter to transform body shape when they want to make an area smaller, or larger, depending on the part of the body. It can also be used to fix wardrobe issues that don’t look right.

To get to the liquify tool, you must select ‘Liquify’ in the ‘Filter’ tab of Photoshop. Once there, you can choose to use the ‘Forward Warp’ tool to push pixels in and out from the image, and you can also work with the ‘Pucker’ and ‘Bloat’ tools to manipulate your image. The pucker tool moves pixels towards the center of the brush as you drag, and the bloat tool moves pixels away from the center of the brush as you pull.

Both are extremely helpful and can be applied to nude and boudoir photography.

Patch Tool
The next tool you should familiarize yourself with is the patch tool. Used as a retouching and repairing tool, the patch tool can help enhance the skin or clothing of your models. Applying the patch tool allows you to get rid of small details on a large surface area of an image, such as the face, skin, and some clothing items. It’s easy to use the patch tool to remove small blemishes on the skin, scars, or any other imperfections you wish to get rid of. It also works on clothing when attempting to remove small stains on wardrobe items that you didn’t notice before.

You can locate the patch tool by clicking and holding down on the ‘Healing Brush’ in Photoshop’s toolbar. When you have the Patch tool selected, you can create a selection around the part of the image you want to remove, and by dragging your selection to the area you want to replace it with, it gets rid of the blemish, or whatever it is you’re removing. Using the patch tool is a quick and easy way to correct your model’s skin and is one of the essential tools for retouching in nude and boudoir photography.

Dodge & Burn
One trick all great Photoshop users know when attempting to create depth in their images is the Dodge and Burn tool. Dodging and burning is a technique used in Photoshop to enhance highlights and shadows in an image and place them where you want. Using dodging and burning in nude and boudoir photography is beneficial to convey a more intimate mood in your photos and also makes your model’s skin and body look amazing. You can use the dodge and burn tool to create highlights and shadows in legs to give them depth, on her chest, and anywhere else you’d want to enhance.

You can find both the dodge and burn tools in the toolbar of Photoshop, and whichever one you choose to select, you can pick your brush tip and size, among other options, in the options bar to get more control over your edits. You can also choose in the options bar to work with either mid-tones, shadows, or highlights, and once you’ve got your settings down, you can drag your cursos over the parts you want to lighten or darken.

Spot Healing Brush
Lastly, the spot healing brush is useful for nude and boudoir photography because it can help remove wrinkles in clothing, and can also be used as another tool to remove spots and blemishes for smaller areas. The spot healing brush works by painting with sampled pixels from the image you’re editing and matches the texture, lighting, transparency, and shading of those pixels and applying them to the spot being healed.

To utilize the spot healing brush, simply locate it in the toolbar of Photoshop inside the Healing brush tool, and once selected, choose your brush size and blending mode to make your corrections.

Layers
All of these techniques, including any other edits you may want to do, should be applied in a duplicate layer of your photograph. Everyone who works with Photoshop knows that nothing can be done to your image without working in a layer, as they’re the framework and core feature to Photoshop. Almost every edit you do works in a layer, and you need to create a separate layer of every image you plan to edit. Learning how to work with layers is the most essential part of learning Photoshop, and sets the groundwork for all your edits. You don’t want to work on the original layer of your photo because it can cause you to make edits over something you didn’t want to, and helps create a more flawless image. You can also move things around more seamlessly and place them where you want.

Your layers panel can be found at the bottom right-hand corner of Photoshop, and its icon looks like a page being turned from the bottom left-hand corner. Selecting this will let you see your layers, and it’s where you can create layers, delete them, name them, group them, mask them, blend them, add efects to them, change their opacity, and more. Layers are so crucial to Photoshop edits, no matter the style of photography, that they should be the first thing you do when opening up Photoshop.