How to make your screenshots look Realistic! (Detailed Editing Tutorial)

Hey Everyone! I have been receiving quite a few PM’s regarding as to which app I use to edit my photos or how do I make my shots look realistic so I have decided to come up with an editing tutorial. I’ll try and make it as detailed as I can so you can try this out step by step!

Step 1: Take a Screenshot

To start off, the first thing you want to do before you go into editing is to take a screenshot. There are two ways you can take a screenshot. One is using a combination of buttons on your device and the other being the in-built screenshot capture on the replay mode. To get the best out of your screenshots in terms of quality and resolution, I would highly recommend using the in-built screenshot capture. Here is a screenshot I will be using to demonstrate throughout this editing tutorial:


Step 2: Download PS Express / Apple in-built editor (IOS)

The app I use for editing is PS Express. It is available for free on Android and IOS. This is how it looks like on the respective app/playstore:

Apple Users (IOS): To all the Apple Users out there, the in-built editing tool is another resource I use to edit my shots (especially when it comes to colour filters). Here’s a preview of some of the colour filters available to enhance your screenshot:

The two that I most commonly use are Vivid Warm and Dramatic and for this particular shot, I chose to go with Dramatic as there was a good contrast between the dark and lighter shades.

(P.S. Android Users, if there is an in-built android editor then feel free to use that as well! If the options are limited, then avoid using it and stick to PS Express only.)


Step 3: Editing tools on PS Express

Once you’re done downloading the app, open the app and choose the image you want to edit. You’ll be brought onto this screen:

On the bottom of your of your screen, you will see a bunch of editing tools available to use. Click the option that’s circled and you will be redirected to another menu.

Step 4: Lighting of the Shot

A major aspect when editing is the lighting of a shot. Believe it or not, only adjusting the lighting in your shot can create stunning results. Here’s what I do for my edits:

Exposure: Exposure refers to the overall amount of light / brightness of an image. So say if the image is too dark, it has a low exposure. If the image is too bright, it has a high exposure. What I like to do is keep an appropriate balance between the colours and the brightness of the screenshot. For sunrise / sunset screenshots, I tend to keep the exposure around 15% - 20%. For Midday shots, I tend to fluctuate between 2% - 5%.

Contrast: Contrast refers to the scale of difference between the darkest and brightest areas of your image. So when you increase the contrast, there is an increase in the separation between the dark and bright areas. When you decrease the contrast, you bring the shadows up and the highlights down to make them closer to one another. I tend to increase the contrast in all my edits (around 10% - 20%).

Shadows: Shadows pretty much speaks for itself. If you were to increase the shadows in your image, it will brighten the dark areas of your image and reveal more of the shadow detail that was captured in your image. Decrease the shadows and it will lighten the dark areas and reduce the shadow details. This is obviously based upon your personal preferences but I personally prefer to decrease the shadows in my edits (around -15% to -20%)

Whites: Whites basically refers to the white balance in your image. It means adjusting the colours (especially white) to make the image look more natural. I prefer to adjust the white balance only when fog is involved or when the sunlight is hitting part of the aircraft, just like in the image above.

Step 5: Clarity / Sharpness of Image

Now that you have dealt with the lighting aspects of editing, we move on to the clarity / sharpness aspect of editing which is practically the last step.

Clarity: Clarity I suppose makes your image more sharper and look more poppy/contrasty. Adjusting the clarity really brings a noticeable difference in your image. I use around 25% - 30%

Sharpness: Sharpness makes everything stand out just that tiny bit more. It refers to the image’s overall clarity. I tend to match both Clarity and Sharpness so for example, if I use 25% on clarity, I’ll use 25% on sharpness as well etc.

Step 6: Saving your edits in High Quality

Most editing apps are designed to not consume too much storage space on your device, hence why it saves your edit in a lower resolution scale. Luckily on PS Express, you can alter this by clicking on the two options highlighted in the red box below:

You will then be redirected to this page. Both pages have been combined into one shot here.

Under Image resize, you can choose any of the provided image size options. These options will scale images preserving the image’s current aspect ratio. Under JPEG quality, you can choose a quality scale that will be applied when exporting or sharing the image. A 100% value will give the best result at the cost of an increased file size.

NOTE: The resolution of the original screenshot plays a massive role as to what the maximum quality you can save your edit in will be!

Step 7: HOORAH! You’re Done!

All it takes is six simple steps to make your edits look realistic which hardly takes 5 mins compared to the 3/4 hours I took to type and sort this tutorial out. Here is my finished version of the photo I edited:

Since I am not TL3, I can’t post this under the Tutorial category


Looks awesome great tutorial


Cheers mate!

This should be put in #tutorials by a Regular!


Spotters will say it’s backlit


iTs BaCkLiT.

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Haha true that!

Great Tutorial, I will use this in the future :)

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Great highly detailed explanation 👏 that ps express is a great app indeed

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I’m really thinking about putting it in #tutorials not sure if mods would let me though 😞


I dont think we can do that since he is not TL3


It sure is! Thanks!

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It’s alright. I’ll just have to work my way to TL3

Amazing tutorial! Now I know how you do your amazing edits :)
Btw I think the #tutorials category is only for in-app tutorials.

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Cheers Bud! I personally don’t know much as to what goes in there or not, the #tutorials category that is. #general is the best bet for now

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Same pic…

How do you add contrails though I’ve seen people do it

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Thanks @Anshul28, this will be so helpful for the community, that’s a great pic too. 😃

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Great tutorial! Bookmarked this!

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Great advice, I also found that normal Photoshop for iOS works great too.

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