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How to Retouch a Portrait in Pixelmator Pro

If you're looking for an affordable photo editing software that contains more than enough features to use for retouching a portrait, look no further than Pixelmator Pro. This Mac-based software is easy to use and with a one-time purchase price of $39.99 USD, it might just be the only photo editor you ever need.

Pixelmator Pro also offers a free trial with no restrictions for 15 days, so you can give it a good test of your own before committing to purchasing the software.

In previous lessons we learned how to use a non-destructive editing workflow, and how to colour grade a photo. Now let me show you how we can use Pixelmator Pro to retouch a portrait.

Retouching a Portrait in Pixelmator Pro

First thing's first, let's open up a portrait in Pixelmator Pro. I'm going to use this headshot of an actor. Click on the '3 circles' icon on the right side menu to arrive in the Color Adjustments menu.

Basic Adjustments

What do I mean by basic adjustments? I'm referring to the White Balance and Lightness adjustments. This includes Exposure, Highlights, Contrast, etc.

This portrait, straight out of camera, is looking a little bit flat to my eyes, so I'll use these basic adjustments to increase the contrast a little bit, and warm up the image.

That's looking quite a bit better, and gives me an overall tone and feel I'm happy with.

Hue/Saturation & Selective Color Adjustments

The next variables to turn our attention to is the Hue & Saturation and Selective Color adjustments. These are conveniently next in line down in the Color Adjustments menu.

The overall colour of the image is looking a tiny bit flat to me, so in the Hue/Saturation sub-menu, I'll increase the Vibrance by 20%. Vibrance increases (or decreased) the overall saturation of the image, but with built-in AI to avoid overly affecting the skin tones.

For the background, it's feeling a little bit darker then I would like it to read, and also a bit purple. Using the Selective Color adjustment here makes this fix really easy. In Selective Color, I've clicked the Blues, and slightly altered the Hue and Saturation adjustments, as well as a 70% increase to the Brightness of the blues.

Now those edits are really helping the image feel more balanced.

Local Adjustments

Every actor wants their eyes a major focal point in their headshot. Let's make a local adjustment to her eyes so they really grab our attention.

We'll need to make a selection of the eyes in order to affect them, and only them. I'll do this by using the Quick Selection tool.

Select 'New' and then click 'Select and Mask...' to create an overlay where you can then create your selection.

Choose the 'Basic Brush' and begin to manually paint in the eyes. Don't worry that this is looking clown-like at the moment. The yellow wash is so you can easily see what areas you're selecting.

After you've brushed your selection, click 'Apply' in the bottom right corner to create this selection. You'll now see the portrait as it was, but with some marching ants around her eyes, where we've selected and masked.

Now, click back over to the Color Adjustments menu to make the adjustments to this selection. I've increased the Contrast by 50% and the Vibrance by 50% to really make the eyes pop.

And there you have it! That's an edit of a portrait I'd be happy to deliver to the client, all done in Pixelmator Pro.

As you can see the process of editing a portrait with Pixelmator Pro is very easy, and most importantly, logical. The software is laid out very intuitively for photographers, with all of our most commonly used adjustments just a click away.

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