Jodie Christmas Pinup

Last year I bought a Miss Santa outfit (for want of a better name for it) but sadly never got a chance to shoot anybody in it. In fairness it was about 3 days before Christmas when I bought it so I was chancing my arm a bit! This year I nearly missed using it again but managed to remember I had it just in time to secure a quick shoot with the lovely Jodie.

What I have been wanting to achieve for a while now is a kind of 50's pinup poster effect and I though this shoot would be a good opportunity to try to get it. This blog just runs through the various filter I applied to get to the final image I was after. The effects have been derived from a number of online tutorials I found and is a bit of a combination of all of them. You can click on the images in this blog to view them slightly larger. Unfortunately not all of the effects really show through unless you are looking at the full resolution image.

Starting Image

Let's have look at the starting image. It was shot in the studio with a green paper roll background. The lighting was a 105cm rice bowl soft box mounted on a boom and pointing down onto Jodie, and there was a rectangular soft box camera right as a fill. Too be honest we took the first shot and thought that was pretty much job done.

Converting the image to a smart object

After doing some basic adjustments in Lightroom to get the above image, I opened it in Photoshop. The first thing I needed to do was convert it to a smart object. This allows me to adjust the filters at any stage by applying them non-destructively. It is also worth checking at this point the the Image>Mode is set to 8 bits/Channel otherwise some of the filter options are not available later.

Shadows and Highlights

The next thing I did was apply a Shadows and Highlights adjustment layer. This can be found under the Image>Adjustments menu option. This is supposed to reduce the tonal range in the image. I only adjusted the amount for shadows and highlights leaving tone and radius settings alone as well as the Adjustments settings viewed by clicking on the Show More Options checkbox.

I chose a shadows amount of 50% and a Highlights amount of 20%. Your images may need different values but these can be a starting place as you can always go back and change them later.

Brightness and Contrast

Next I applied a Brightness and Contrast adjustment layer. This adjustment is also under the Image>Adjustments menu option. To be honest this seemed a bit counter-intuitive given we had just reduced the tonal range but my feeling is boosting the contrast to 100, as we have done here, would have been too much on the original image but adding it gives a slightly less lifelike look to the image and accentuates the edges.

I left Brightness as 0 and increased the Contrast to 100.

Add some surface blur

Next I added a Surface blur layer. This is to further reduce the lifelike look of the image and blends the colours. The filter is under the Filter>Blur menu option.

I set the radius to 80 pixels and the threshold to 10 but I was working with a high resolution version on the image.

Add an oil paint effect

What better way to make your image look like an oil painting than to use the Photoshop Oil Paint filter under the Filter>Stylize menu option? This filter is the one really worth playing around with in the brush settings to get the look you want.

I opted to go with a stylization value of 7.5 (don't be afraid to push it all the way to 10), cleanliness of 3.1 and scale of 0.2. Bristle detail and lighting I left as default.

Add a second surface blur

The advice I followed suggested adding a second surface blur filter. If I am honest I am not sure how necessary it was. Adding too much blur removed too much detail whereas lower values did not seem to make much difference.

Second shadows and highlights adjustment

It is also suggested to add a second shadows and highlights adjustment layer at this stage but this time play around with the Adjustments Colour and Midtone options in the Show More Options section. For me again I did not really see much difference .


Next I added a bit o f sharpening to accentuate the edges almost like an outline using the, always curiously titled, Unsharp mask from the Filter>Sharpen menu option.

I went with values of 70% for amount, 2.0 pixels radius, and a threshold of 0.

Dry brush effect

The next filter is the dry brush filter under Filter>Filter Gallery menu option. This adds to the painterly effect. Again you can play around with the settings. I have gone for a brush size and detail of 10 and texture of 1.


One more adjustment layer to add in Photoshop and it is the vibrance one under Image>Adjustments. Here you can adjust the overall vibrance and saturation to your taste. I have opted to tone down the overall vibrance with a value of -51 (affecting the mid-tones of the image like skin and the green background) and boosted the saturation overall with a value of +10.

Final Touches

Most of the online tutorials started with cutting the subject out of the background but I was happy with the one I photographed. Creating an accurate mask and cutting the model out is beyond the scope of this blog (I'd recommend learning and using the pen tool, and channels for hair masking, but the latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop have some really good new masking options for people that do a very good job). The final stage in producing the 50's style poster though is to add some texturing to the background. If you have cut your subject out you can download some great textures from the internet and add them as a background layer. Try playing around with the blending options to get a nice effect.

I use On1 Photo Raw to do a lot of my texturing and colour grading. To finish my image off I opened it, with all the adjustment and filter layers added, in On 1 and added a texture layer and vignette. I went for a recycled paper texture and reduced the opacity about a third. I also used the masking option to remove the text from the skin areas. The vignette can be applied in Lightroom using the Effects panel but I often use the On 1 option as it gives me a little more control.

Final Image

So this is the final image after applying the adjustments, filters and textures. I hope this blog has been of interest and maybe given you some ideas to try for yourself. I am pretty happy with the overall effect but I reckon there is still room to improve it. I think I may be doing some more shoots in the New Year that I can use it on!