How to fix shadows on a face in a photo

Written by william carne
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How to fix shadows on a face in a photo
Lightening dark shadows on the face can make a photo much more rounded. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Deep shadows can seemingly ruin an otherwise excellent photo, but thanks to powerful tools in modern high quality image editors like Adobe Photoshop, GIMP and Corel Paintshop Photo Pro, fixing shadows is a lot easier than it used to be. Most quality image editors have shadow/highlight tools that are specially designed to lighten shadows or darken highlights. Using these tools are excellent methods for novices to drastically improve problem shadow areas without having to spend a great deal of time learning the program.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Open your image editing software and load the photo you want to work on.

  2. 2

    Click on the selection tool, sometimes known as the magnetic selection tool. Use the tool to draw a selection around the whole face, and not just the shadowed area. If your selection isn't perfect, don't worry. It just has to be close. Open the "Feather" dialogue from the "Select" menu, sometimes located within the "Modify" submenu. Chose a value between 2 and 10 pixels depending on the file size of the image. A bigger image will need a larger number in the feathering box. This step softens the border of your selection so there are no hard edges after you make your modifications.

  3. 3

    Open the "Shadows/Highlights" dialogue usually located in the "Adjust" section of the "Image" menu. Make sure the "Preview" box is checked. Adjust the "shadows" slider to alter your image and lighten the shadows to whatever extent you desire. Be careful not to overdo it, as shadow areas can have a lot of grain in them when heavily lightened. When finished, click "OK." Save your work.

Tips and warnings

  • Save your modified work separately from the original, so that you can utilise the original photo later if needed.

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