How to Make Yourself Tan on Photoshop

By Danielle Mathieux

Photoshop is a fantastic tool for adding a fresh summer tan to your photographs. Whether you want a modest tan or a dark tone that makes it look like you spent a week at the beach, you can give yourself a tan digitally in just a few simple steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital Photograph of Yourself

Step 1

Open the photo you want to edit in Photoshop.

Step 2

Duplicate your image using quick key "CTRL/CMD + J." It's always a good idea to have a duplicate version of the original image in your working Photoshop file, just in case you need to start from scratch.

Step 3

Select the image you want to edit (this should be the top layer) and edit it in Quick Mask Mode. To select the Quick Mask, type "Q" or click on the icon that looks like a circle inside of a rectangle below the foreground and background color swatches in the tool palette.

Step 4

Paint over the skin using different brush sizes (it will look red, but this is normal). Make sure that you paint all of the skin that you want to be tanned, including the skin that's exposed under the hair, as well as the ears and fingers.

Step 5

Clean up your painted area by switching from black to white (type "X" to toggle between the colors) and painting over the areas you need to erase. When you paint using the Quick Mask, black selects an area and white takes the selection away.

Step 6

Exit Quick Mask Mode by clicking the Quick Mask icon again or typing "Q" again. You will see an area selected by a line that looks like marching ants.

Step 7

Make an inverse selection by going to Select > Inverse. You'll see the selection change slightly so it's enclosing the areas you painted in earlier.

Step 8

Copy the selection to a new layer by typing "CTRL/CMD + J." You can also do it manually by copying the selection and pasting it as a new layer.

Step 9

Adjust the curves on your new layer by selecting Image > Adjustment > Curves, or typing "CTRL/CMD + M." You'll want to drag the line from the center slightly to the right. The darker you want the tan to be the farther right you'll need to go.

Step 10

Save your edited photograph.

Tips & Warnings

  • Save your image as a .PSD file so you can alter it in the future if necessary. You can always save the file as a flattened image, like a .JPEG or .PNG, separately. Do not flatten your working Photoshop file if you plan on editing it again.
  • Please be sure that you modestly alter your image. If you push it too far it will look like it has been altered digitally, or "photoshopped."

References & Resources