How to Pastel Edit Your Photos

I thought with summer vacations just around the corner, it would be fun to share how to I put a pretty pastel tone onto my photos. If you have children, a pastel tone makes the perfect photo edit, and if you can get your children near water – the ocean, a river or a lake…kids+beach=one sweet PASTEL vacation memory. Or maybe you already have some beach photos tucked away on a computer or cell phone? If so, get them out, today I’m going to walk you through the tools I use to make those sweet sun & sand photos of family even more precious, simply by adding a pastel tint.

For today’s sample beach photo, I went into my archives to pull out a beach photo I shot while on vacation at Carpinteria Beach, California. Carpinteria is an artsy little community near, better known, Santa Barbara. One morning I spotted these two kiddos playing in the sand. They looked about the same age difference as my (now) adult kids, it reminded me of my kids playing together on the beach at that young age. So adorable! I know, I am a big fan of photos with children on a beach…the sun-kissed tones of sea foam, soft sunlight and sand…suddenly those little rascals become Angels.


A detailed PDF tutorial download is at end of post, but in a nutshell... My original (SOOC) shot was poorly composed, however, by shooting in landscape orientation allowed for a good crop later. Notice how in the SOOC photo, the children are centered…the new crop will position them at a Rule of Thirds grid intersection.

I’m getting ahead of myself…before the crop, I took the SOOC image into Photoshop Elements 12 to run the  Florabella Collection, Trinity Action bundle, Pastel Film action to give it the pastel coloration and add golden sunlight gradient in the upper left corner.

Then I opened a saved copy in Elements again. (At that time) I cropped the new pastel-edit photo into a square and, also, used the Elements “healing tool” to eliminate the oil drilling rigs that lined the horizon. *I duplicate the FB pastel layer so when I run Topaz edit it is done on a separate layer. That duplicate layer is taken into Topaz Labs, Black & White Effects to further enhance it into a dreamy look. In TL, Black & White Effects, I selected the Opalotype Collection of Presets. Oh my gosh, the photo looked good in so many of the opalotype collection choices! Finally, I chose the Milk Memories preset effect within that Opalotype Collection (photo below.)

This may look extreme, but remember it will be a layer (in Elements) above the Florabella edit with its opacity pulled way down.

I brought that Topaz Labs, Milk Memories, edit back into Elements, as a layer above the FB pastel image. Reduced the opacity (as I mentioned) of the Milk Memories layer to 38%, revealing more color & detail from the FB layer. This makes more sense looking at the screen shot in the PDF tutorial.

At that point the edited photo is ready to print at a quality  300 dpi, or for online viewing. I add a solid layer (soft blue) to frame-out the photo for viewing online, (see PDF tutorial for details).

That’s it! Honestly, it took 5 times longer to type this post than to edit it. That is what I love about Topaz Labs and Florabella  They’re as easy as Click & Go. If you love pastel photos, these are the two tools you should have in your photo editing toolbox. The biggest advantage is the degree of control you have over the look you wish to create. That is not something you get from photo-editing apps. When these two are used in combination, as I am showing, your creative possibilities are ENDLESS.

Download my Pastel Edit of Photos tutorial, for a detailed walk-thru HERE.

Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside!