The Dave Hill Look Tutorial

One of the more sought after photo effects is to duplicate the type of stylized, high impact, sharp focus photography that has been popularized by the photographer, Dave Hill. Fortunately, you do not have to be a professional photographer to create these types of high quality images. All you will need is Photoshop and a little bit of patience and attention to detail to start creating your own images with the recognizable "Dave Hill" look. Below you will find the steps necessary to complete this effect.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Computer
  • Digital Image File
  • Adobe Photoshop

Step 1: Open Photoshop and Open an Image

First, you will need to open Photoshop and open an image file to edit by selecting "File > Open" and navigate to the image that you would like to apply the Dave Hill effect to. One thing to note is that this effect typically works better on images involving people than it does with landscape shots.

Step 2: Convert Image Layer to Smart Object

In order to ensure that you will be able to change the filter settings on your image whenever you want, you will want to change your image layer to a smart object. To do this, right click on the image layer in the layers tab on the right of your screen and select "Convert To Smart Object."

Step 3: Highlight Shadows

Next, you will want to make the shadowy areas of your image more visible. To do this, select "Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights" and slide the shadow bar to roughly 50% so that the shadowy areas are more visible.

Step 4: Add Harsh Lighting

In the layers palette on the bottom right of your screen, locate the icon that appears as a circle with half white and half black. After clicking on this icon, select "Black & White" from the menu, and then click "Auto," and finally click "OK."

Step 5: Overlay Black and White Layer

Right click on the Black & White image layer and select "Blending Options." Change the blending of this layer to "Overlay," and click "OK."

Step 6: Duplicate Layer 0

Right click on Layer 0 (your original image layer) and select "Duplicate Layer."

Step 7: Sharpen Layer 0 Copy

Select Layer 0 Copy and go to "Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen." With the amount set to 100%, adjust the radius until you begin to see very slight halos around the details of your image.

Step 8: Add Layer Mask

With the Layer 0 Copy still selected, apply a layer mask by clicking on "Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All."

Step 9: Use Brush Tool on Layer Mask

Make sure that your foreground and background colors are black and white, then use the brush tool to paint in the layer mask in the areas where you want to apply the sharpen tool.

Step 10: Adjust Brightness on Layer Mask

Hold down the Ctrl key and click on the layer mask to select the mask. Then, click on the black and white circle icon on the bottom right of the screen. Choose "Brightness/Contrast" and set the brightness to -50.

Step 11: Finishing Touches

If you are not happy with the way your layer mask turned out, you can use the brush or eraser tools to touch them up at this point. After that, you should be done!


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