Tutorial Tuesday: Dragan Effect

I have been eagerly anticipating this tutorial from Ramblings and Photographs which demonstrates how to create the Dragan effect on your photographs.  I don't know why, but I love the gritty, 3-dimensional quality of this effect SO MUCH, especially for portraits of rugged men.

My time has been stretched pretty thin lately, so please forgive the fact that I'm using an archived photo, and also that for my first attempt, I literally rushed through the editing process and didn't really fiddle around too much.  I literally just applied the suggested settings, and I know for certain that this photo's potential was not met, but hey, there's always tomorrow.

Here's the original.  My dear, sweet friend and neighbor, Clifford.  He truly is as soft and adorable as he seems in this portrait, but he is probably the hardest worker I know. 

 Here's my color edit.  I don't know that I love it in color...his skin still seems pretty ruddy even after desaturating.  But in any event, you can see much more definition and grit.  At the bottom of this post, I'll run through my adjusted steps I used to get here.

And here's my black and white.  I'm starting to think I should find a photo of someone who doesn't have such lovely skin.  This precious man is 82 years old, and I'm pretty sure I have more wrinkles.  Oooo, maybe I'll do a hideous self-portrait next!

So, here's what I did...basically following Ashley's steps, but tweaked slightly:

1.  Created a new layer and adjusted shadows/highlights.  Enhance>adjust lighting>shadows/highlights>sliders to 10% shadows, 40% highlights
2.  I didn't make my layer a Smart Object as suggested because, ironically, I was not smart enough to figure it out.  I think maybe PSE 9 doesn't give that option..?
3.  Performed an Unsharp Mask.  Enhance>unsharp mask.  60% with 2.0 radius and 0 threshold
4.  Created new layer to adjust colors.  Again, this step differed because I have PSE.  Enhance>Adjust color>hue/saturation.  For Cyan, I changed the drop down from "master" to "cyan" and adjusted to -45.  For Yellow, I changed the drop down to "yellow" and adjusted to -20.  I didn't have the option to preserve luminosity as far as I could tell...so I didn't.
5.  Next, I used a dodge/burn action that I have in a new layer to lighten the highlighted areas and darken the shadowed areas.
6.  Created new layer to adjust curves.  Enhance>adjust color>move highlights slider way up, midtones slightly up, and shadows way down.
7.  Create new adjustment layer for hue/saturation.  Desaturate big time.  Poor Clifford doesn't really have lips, or I would've brushed this layer off of them to keep them rosy.
8.  For the black and white, I just went to Enhance>convert to black and white> and adjusted the red/blue sliders.

Tutorial Tuesday


  1. This totally worked for this particular photo - I want to find a male photo to work on this with, looks great.

    1. After looking them both over again, I think I do prefer the color one. I agree that the effect does no favors for the ladies...kind of like reverse botox! LOL! I think I may google a tutorial that uses PSE...so many of the steps had to be altered or skipped...if I find a good one, or if I fiddle with these steps enough to figure out a few pse tips, I'll share!



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