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Skin retouching

April 26, 2017 10:42:24 AM GMT

Retouching of skin is the second stage in a row and the most time consuming and complex process when editing a portrait photo. Smoothing of the skin in a photo is necessary in 99% of cases – at least minor edits, which occupies five minutes of the time up to 10 hours of long and painstaking work.

When retouching skin, you need: edit the entire shape and color, the pores of the skin, get rid of excess hairs and imperfections - while maintaining skin naturalness. Can it be done independently? It definitely can! In order to do this, you need to have sufficient free time, knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and a graphics tablet or just use our online photo editing service. For those who do not have such opportunity - we have prepared special lessons that allow you to quickly and easily learn how to retouch the skin. They are well suited for family snapshots and photos for the social networks profiles.

Tip: do not be discouraged if something does not work. Look carefully at the lesson, watch the video for the lesson, maybe you missed a step.

11 simple but effective methods of skin retouching

It is easy enough to master these techniques, as they don't take a lot of time (5 to 30 minutes on average) and do not need a tablet for their application. The techniques which you will learn in this chapter, preserve the natural structure of the skin, but the results are not up to professional.

Remember that used in the following lessons values fit the pictures that we edited. Perhaps in your case it is necessary to use other values – don't be afraid to experiment.

The contents:

  1. Removal of blemishes and skin imperfections
  2. Quick skin smoothing
  3. Skin smoothing preserving its texture
  4. Skin enhancing and adding texture
  5. Smoothing the skin using the color channels
  6. Remove or reduce wrinkles
  7. Removing flash glare 
  8. Skin tone harmonization
  9. Makeup photo editing
  10. Creating a porcelain skin effect
  11. Sharpening of portrait photos

1. Removal of blemishes and skin imperfections

Always start to retouch skin with removing blemishes. Often, for the family photos in the photo album this retouching is more than enough and there is no need to further edit the photo. But even when photo needs further processing, all the same, the retouching should start with removal of skin imperfections and blemishes.

Step 1

For editing photos, where the skin imperfection is small and do not overlap with edges of other objects – you should use the Healing Brush, which you can find in the same cell with the Spot Healing Brush. If the skin imperfection you want to remove is located on the border of another element (for example: lips, teeth, eyes, etc.), you should use the Clone Stamp tool. It cleanly removes all the blemishes.

Choose Healing Brush and set the Hardness to 75%, in the Samples drop-down list select All Layers (so that you can take pixels’ sample out of the background layer).

Step 2

Zoom in and create a new layer by clicking on the icon Create a New Layer on the Layers panel. Hold down < Alt > (< Option >), click on a clean area of skin directly next to the blemish.

A tip: choosing the pixels on the forehead, which are used as a sample, it is better to take out ones on the left or right of the blemish, not under it or over it.

Step 3

Move the pointer directly on the blemish and click the mouse. Do not draw it, just make one short click. That's it — the problem is solved. This is the best method to remove small sized blemishes: select the "perfect" pixels near the skin imperfection, point to the blemish and click. If the skin imperfections are located next to each other, you do not need to choose a new piece of pure pixels for treating each of them. When you start to edit another part of the face it is necessary to use new pixels’ samples so that the retouching looks as natural as possible.

Step 4

Let’s start to edit another part. The sequence of actions would be the same. Choose pixels to replace the fragment, hold down < Alt > (< Option >), and then click the left mouse button, hovering the cursor directly on the blemish. In this step it is better to remove only the largest of skin imperfections. All the minor blemishes will be removed in next steps, when we turn to the techniques of smoothing the skin in the photo. To achieve a similar result, only the actions described in the previous steps were performed: selection of pixels to replace the skin imperfection and click with the left mouse button on them.

Video tutorial

2. Quick skin smoothing

The process of smoothing skin preserving its texture is quite difficult and time-consuming. Therefore, when retouching skin, many people use blurring instrument that creates just a horrible effect of a plastic skin. We propose a compromise solution, which is perfect for beginners. Smoothing the skin with a blur, and then restore its structure.

Step 1

Just want to warn you that you should not use this method when retouching beauty photos and other photos which you will show to the professional retouchers.

Before smoothing the skin, it is necessary to remove all the skin imperfections. Once it is done, use the key combination < Ctrl + J > ( < ⌘ + J >) to duplicate the background layer image, as shown in the figure.

Step 2

Run the command Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur. In the dialog box, shown in the figure, set the Radius parameter to the value of 20 pixels. This will allow you to blur the entire image, as shown in the figure. Click OK to close the filter dialog box.

Step 3

Reduce the opacity of the blurred layer to 50% to weaken the effect. Somebody would have stopped on this step, but as for us, the image still looks too blurry. However, we leave the opacity of the layer equal to exactly 50%. It allows you to visually facilitate the further editing of the image.

Step 4

Hold down < Alt > (Option), click the icon Add Layer Mask, which is available at the bottom of the Layers panel. This will hide the blurry layer behind the black mask, and the original image without blurring the Background layer will appear again. Set white as the dominant color on the toolbar, and select the Brush tool by clicking on the Options panel in the palette. Use a brush with soft edges (at least to start). Now start to sketch the skin fragments. It is very important not to sketch those pieces that should be sharp (eyes, hair, etc.). To sketch the appropriate skin fragments, you will need to change the brush size while drawing.

Step 5

To quickly assess which parts of the skin you have already sketched, and which you have missed, click on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel, hold down < Alt > (< Option >). As a result, the layer mask is full screen displayed. Now you can see which parts were skipped.

Step 6

Now draw all the missing fragments with a brush. Only those fragments, that should not be diluted (they should remain crisp) should be left black on the mask. To display a color image on the screen and continue its editing, click again on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel, hold down <Alt> (<Option>).

Step 7

Now it's time to partially recover the texture of the skin. Reduce the value of the Opacity parameter up to 35%. If the texture of the skin allows, you can reduce this value a little bit more, (to assess the changes that we made you need to sequentially disable and enable the visibility of the top layer for several times. You can do this by clicking on the eye icon which is located to the left of the layer name). Most often when retouching portrait photos, we have to choose the opacity value in the range of 25-35%. The main thing is to remember that the lower the opacity of the top layer, the stronger will the texture of the skin manifest itself in the original image.

Step 8

To show more of the original texture of the skin hold down the < Ctrl > (< ⌘ >), click the layer mask to load it as a selection region. Then click New Layer, which is available at the bottom of the Layers panel. At the Edit menu, select Fill and select 50% Gray in the drop-down list of Use, to fill the selection with the gray color. Click the OK button, but don't cancel the created the selection.

Step 9

Run the Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise command. In the filter dialog box enter a value in the range of 2-10% for the parameter Amount, in the Distribution parameter group, select Gaussian and check Monochromatic. Click on the OK button. Deselect by using keyboard shortcuts <Ctrl + D> (<⌘ + D >) and change overlay mode of the layer to Soft Light to create a subtle texture, or to Overlay to create a more expressive texture. When more than two layers were created for the image, in order to compare the original and edited images you can click on the visibility icon of the background layer (icon eye), hold down < Alt > (< Option >). This action allows you to disable the visibility of all layers except the background. To re-enable visibility, click again on the visibility icon of the background layer, hold down < Alt> (< Option >).

Video tutorial

3. Skin smoothing preserving its texture

This technique allows to smooth skin of the model in the pictures fast and beautifully, without too much blurring. And this technique works quite effectively due to several actions that help to preserve the natural skin texture. This method was first described by Brazilian Retoucher "byRo".

Step 1

Use the key combination < Ctrl + J > ( ⌘ + J) to copy the background layer of an image.

In the Filter -> Blur menu, select Gaussian Blur filter. Don't worry, this filter will be used only for preliminary estimates. In the Gaussian Blur filter dialog box, drag the slider to get the blur effect of skin when you do not see skin texture, but facial features remain visible. Note the value of the filter slider, we have it 50. Now click on the Cancel button to close the filter dialog box without applying the selected settings.

Step 2

In the Filter -> Other menu, select High Pass filter. Shown in the figure, the dialog box opens. For a Radius parameter of this filter, enter the value obtained in the Gaussian Blur filter dialog box (we had 50). Click on the OK button. At this stage, the layer texture will be very, very clear, but we will correct the situation in a moment.

Step 3

Once again, open the dialog box for the Gaussian Blur filter to blur the resulting texture. In the Gaussian Blur filter dialog box you need to enter a value equal to 1/3 of the value that is entered in the dialog box of the High Pass filter. In this case, 1/3 of 50 is approximately equal to 16.6. Click OK.

Step 4

Now the layer with the High Pass filter applied on it, needs to be inverted using the command Image -> Adjustments ->lnvert or with the keys combination < Ctrl + I > (with< Ctrl + I >).

Step 5

Change the blending mode of the top layer to Linear Light on the Layers panel, as shown in the figure. It turned out a nightmare, but we continue to retouch :)

Step 6

Will reduce the top layer Opacity value to 50%. The image appearance is much better now. But the quality of all areas with sharp edges still remains unsatisfactory. And we must fix that.

Step 7

Hold down < Alt > (Option) and click on Add Layer Mask on the Layers panel. As a result, a black mask that completely hides the created effect of the High Pass filter will be created on a new layer. Since the mask is filled with black, blurred layer is hidden, and you will re-open the original image.

Step 8

Press <D> to select white as the dominant color. Activate the Brush tool and select a medium size brush with soft edges in the brush palette options pane. Now paint skin fragments. Do not draw those pieces that should be sharp (eyes, hair, nostrils, lips, etc.). Also, do not draw along the oval of the model’s face, since the details on the edges of all the image elements should be sharp.

Before continue to retouch, make sure that you have not missed a single fragment that was required to blur. To do this, hold down < Alt > (Option) and click on the mask thumbnail, which is available to the right of the layer thumbnail. This will display the mask image itself. Now Looking at it, draw all the pieces that are missed. Now, to get back to work on the image, click again on the mask thumbnail in that layer, hold down < Alt > (< Option >). Look at the original and the edited images given on the next page. Please note that the skin looks smooth and it has a great texture on the final version of the image.

Video tutorial

4. Skin enhancing and adding texture

In this technique we use blurring of the image, it is applied to a very small extent and do not spoils the overall image. In the retouching process we use the Surface Blur filter, but this should not scare you. We will make every effort to add more texture to the image.

Step 1

Before you proceed to smooth the skin, you need to remove all the skin imperfections. Once this is done, press the key combination < Ctrl + J > (<Ctrl + J >) to copy the image background layer.

Step 2

In the Filter -> Blur menu select Surface Blur filter. This filter works much more efficiently compared with the Gaussian Blur filter. It preserves sharp edges of objects much better than the Gaussian Blur filter, which blurs everything in its path. In the dialog box, set the Radius slider to the level of 60 pixels approximately. The Threshold slider is responsible for the tones of the image that will be blurred. The main rule here is to choose a value for this parameter which is higher than the value of the slider Radius. (In this case, we chose a value of 50. Practice shows that you need to choose a value of 5-10 units less than the value of the Radius parameter for this option). At this step, the skin of the model looks quite unattractive. However, click on the OK button.

Step 3

Reduce the value of the Opacity parameter to 50-75% on the Layers panel. The skin of the model looks much better now, but the result of the Surface Blur filter is blurring of the whole image, and we need to blur only the model’s face skin. Therefore, all the fragments that must remain clear, you will need to hide with a black mask.

Step 4

In the Layers panel click on the Add Layer Mask icon, hold down < Alt> (Option). As a result, a black mask will be created in the new layer, a thumbnail of which is shown in the figure. Since the mask is filled with black, the blurred layer is hidden, and you will re-open the original not blurred image of the background layer. The point is to blur only a section, i.e. the skin, leaving all other parts (such as eyes, hair, clothes, jewelry, etc.) clear. Press < D > to specify white as the dominant color and activate the Brush tool. Now paint all the pieces of the skin image you need to smooth.

Step 5

Before you continue, make sure that you have not missed any single portion you want to blur on the face. To do this, hold down < Alt > (< Option >) and click the mask thumbnail, which is available to the right of the layer thumbnail. The screen will display the image mask itself. Look at it and paint all the pieces that are missed. When all the fragments are painted, hold down <Alt> (Option) and click on the mask thumbnail.

Step 6

You need to load the mask as a selection for the opened color image. Hold down < Ctrl > (<⌘ >) and click on the mask thumbnail. The allocated region, based on the mask will appear on the screen. Remember that only those portions of the skin that you want to smooth (eyes, nostrils, lips and other parts with sharp edges will not be selected) will be highlighted in the image.

Step 7

Do not cancel the selection in the Layers panel and click on the Background layer. Use the key combination < Ctrl + J > (⌘ + J) to copy the selected fragments of the background layer to another layer (see the Layers panel in the illustration, where the retouched skin fragments are copied out of the image background layer to a separate layer).

Step 8

To perfectly apply the texture layer over the image, select the Linear Light or Soft Light (if the Linear is too hard for your photos) blending mode for the top layer with a gray texture in the Layers panel. After this, almost the entire structure of the skin, which was almost completely removed from the image after the application of the Surface Blur filter, will recover.

Step 9

Make the newly created layer with the copied skin fragments upper in the Layers panel by dragging its thumbnail above all other layers. To return the skin texture to the image select High Pass filter in the Filter -> Other menu. The filter dialog box opens, which is shown in the figure. Drag the Radius slider to the far left. The image will become very flat, but do not rush to click on the OK button. Slowly drag the Radius slider to the right until the image show the texture of the skin. Click on the OK button.

Step 10

The full recovery effect of the texture shows itself in the opacity of the top layer equal to 100%.

The lower the value of this parameter is, the smoother the skin looks and less skin texture is noticeable.

In this case, we slightly reduced the value of this parameter, because the texture was visible too clearly. In general, the choice of values of the Opacity parameter in each case will depend on the specifics of a person's skin in the photo.

Video tutorial

5. Smoothing the skin using the color channels

This is another simple and fast method of retouching, which is suitable for the beginners. This method allows to preserve the natural skin texture. The advantage of this method is the possibility of smoothing the skin using the Surface Blur filter.

Step 1

First of all, you need to remove the skin imperfections in the image using the Healing Brush tool.

Open the Channels panel and select the red color channel. (Select the corresponding item in the Window menu if the panel is not open yet in the working window of the program.)

For the portrait photos there is less texture in the red color channel.

Step 2

Copy the red channel by dragging it to the bottom of the Channels panel over the Create New Channel icon. (This icon looks exactly like the Create a New Layer icon on the Layers panel). Run the command Filter -> Blur -> Surface Blur. Enter a value of 5 pixels for the Radius parameter, and a 5 levels value for the Threshold parameter. Click on the OK button. Hold down the < Ctrl > (<⌘>) and click on the copy of the red channel (it is called Red copy on the Channels panel) to load it as a selection.

Step 3

In the Layers panel click on the Create a New Layer to create a clean new layer. Now, while the selected area is still available on the display, click on the Add Layer Mask icon and you will get a mask of the layer, which is created on the basis of the selection. Look at the mask icon in the Layers panel. Usually it is just black or white until we start to paint it with a different color. But in this case, when the selection is active, the mask turned out similar to the red channel of the image. Another important caveat of this method is that we do not draw on the mask, but directly on the generated layer, and the mask helps to preserve the natural skin texture. Click on the layer icon in the Layers panel, to draw on a layer but not on the mask.

Step 4

Activate the Brush tool and set the brush opacity option to 20%. Choose a large size brush with soft edges (100% opacity brushes can be chosen only by those users who uses graphic tablets and adjust the opacity of the brush strokes by varying the pressing force on the tablet). Hold down < Alt > (< Option >) and click on the piece of skin that you want to use to take a color sample of the fragment. Start to sketch the selected area, successively applying brush strokes of one another to amplify the effect. As you draw, the selected fragment of the skin gradually smooths out. The more brush strokes you apply to the image, the more skin smooths.

Step 5

When performing this step, we will explain the principles of operation of this method. Will also explain why the skin of the model looks plastic in the picture to this step. Hold down < Shift > and click on the mask thumbnail. This allows you to hide the mask, and is indicated by the red cross, which crosses the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. As now there is no mask, the skin looks plastic. You just picked the color and painted a picture with a solid color. And previously created layer mask keeps the texture of the skin. Hold down < Shift > and click on the mask thumbnail to enable it again. This action allows to evaluate how the mask affects the image. Having dealt with this issue, make sure that the layer mask is active (the mask thumbnail should not be crossed).

Since we painted on a separate layer, we can always adjust the expressiveness of the created effect by changing the opacity of the top layer.

Video tutorial

6. Remove or reduce wrinkles

The older the individual is, the deeper and longer are its wrinkles. They can be completely removed, but the person's face will look weird. Instead, it is better to reduce the wrinkles by brightening the darkest parts of the image. When retouching wrinkles, it is important to remember that you need to rejuvenate a person for ten years, not for forty.

Step 1

Wrinkles can be reduced by just two simple operations.

In the first phase, we will completely remove all the wrinkles, and in the second - will partially put them back to the picture, so it looks more natural. Click on the icon Create a New Layer, which is available at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a new clean layer. We will complete all the conversion in it.

Step 2

Zoom in on the needed part of the image and activate the Healing Brush tool using the key combination < Shift +J >. Select a brush of small size in the options bar for this tool and in the Sample drop-down list, select All Layers. This will allow you to work on the top clean layer, but you need to choose the samples of pixels for shading using the image background. Hold down < Alt > (< Option >), select the pixels for retouching in a close proximity to the fragment. Make sure that pixels are selected in the fragment of the skin with the texture that is similar to the edited fragment texture.

Step 3

Drag the pointer over the fragment, which will be retouched. In the picture for this step, we held the brush from left to right under the model’s right eye, highlighting this area in the figure. There is good news: it is not necessary to completely remove all the wrinkles at this step, as we are going to recover some of them in the image later. Therefore, if you cannot remove some of the wrinkles completely, don't worry. Soon we will restore the image of a weakened wrinkles version, which hides all the shortcomings, preserved at this stage.

Step 4

Most likely, remove wrinkles with one stroke of the brush tool will not succeed. So, you will have to spend more time for this. We increase the scale of the skin imperfection image and with a few longitudinal strokes conceal the wrinkles. No matter how many strokes that might take, remove wrinkles as carefully as possible.

Step 5

Move to the model’s left eye and follow the same steps. Hold down < Alt > (< Option >), select the source pixels for retouching and draw over the lines that you want to delete.

Sketch the wrinkles under the left eye with the horizontal strokes.

Continue to remove lines out of the face. If the wrinkle is large, then you need to perform a few strokes of a brush. To make the results look more natural, you need to repeatedly change the source of pixels for shading.

Step 6

In the last step, to make the image look more realistic, you need to reduce the opacity of the top layer, on which we remove wrinkles with the Healing Brush tool. In this case, on the Layers panel, we reduced the value of the Opacity parameter to 40%. See how naturally looks the woman's face now. All the wrinkles are much lighter and thus look less deep. The woman seems younger than she is.

In each case, the opacity of the edited layer is different. It all depends on the age of the person in the picture, the number and depth of wrinkles on its face. In some cases, when retouching portraits of young people, you can leave the opacity of the upper layer to 80%.But it all depends on the person and features of its skin (the quantity and depth of wrinkles, etc.).

Step 7

If you need to more clearly express the large facial folds on the left and right of the mouth of a woman, click on the Add Layer Mask icon, which is available at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Using the Brush tool with opacity of 10-20% paint these lines with the black color in the mask.

Video tutorial

7. Removing flash glare

Sometimes the flash light reflects from the model’s face and it seems like the person in the picture sweats a lot. Well, even in the Studio the make-up artists are doing everything to ensure that the light from the flash is not reflected from the faces of the models, but sometimes it still fails to avoid such issues. If there are some pictures in a shoot which have such a defect, we will show how to get rid of it easy and fast.

Step 1

We have a picture with the flash glare on model’s forehead, nose, right cheek and chin. To remove such glare, it is great to use the Patch tool, which is shown in the figure, although for the same purpose you can use the Healing Brush tool. However, if you use the Healing Brush tool you need to remove glare with one stroke of the brush (a little later, you'll understand why).

Step 2

Increase the scale for a fragment with the image of the model’s face and using the key combination < Ctrl + J > (< ⌘+ J >) duplicate the background layer of an image. All the operations we perform on a separate layer. Using the Patch tool, select the glare. This tool creates a dedicated area in the same way as the Lasso tool, so it is simply to use it.

Step 3

Click on the highlighted area and drag it to another area of the skin with a similar texture, which has no flash glare on it. Release the left mouse button (or lift the pen from the tablet), and the highlighted area returns to its original position, but the glare on the skin will disappear. Unfortunately, the edited area has changed its color and image in general has lost its original depth, which occurs as a result of light reflection. Therefore, we will not remove a bright area completely, we only try to weaken it. Will do this in the next step. Now do not cancel the created selection as we still need it.

Step 4

Press the key combination < Ctrl + N > (< ⌘+ N >) to hide a dotted line around the selection. In the Edit menu, select Fade Patch. In the dialog box, you can modify the effect using the available slider. If you leave this slider to position 100%, then the effect will remain unchanged. If you reduce the value of this parameter to 0%, then the effect will be completely removed from the image. Thus, our task is to weaken the effect so that the editable area is brighter, but the flash glare is not visible. In this case the optimal value is 40%. Click on the OK to complete the retouching of the glare.

Step 5

In the same way remove any remaining glare in the image. Don't be surprised if in each case you need to weaken the effect to different degrees. It is important to remember that the Fade command can be used only after you create the effect (fortunately, pressing the key combination < Ctrl + N > (<⌘ + N >), which we use to hide the secretory line, Photoshop does not consider as a separate command.) Follow all steps in this sequence:

  1. remove the glare;
  2. hide dotted lines to indicate a selected area;
  3. use the Fade command to weaken the created effect.

Scroll to the next glare, and drag the selection to a clean piece of skin with the similar texture.

When you're done with all the glare, do not forget that retouching is done on a separate layer, so if the retouched fragments seem too dark, you can always reduce the opacity of the edited layer. This makes all of the retouched fragments a little lighter.

Video tutorial

8. Skin tone harmonization

Sooner or later you will face a situation when there is a fragment of the skin which is darker or lighter than all the other skin of the model (chest, back, leg, hand or elsewhere). Such issues should be fixed when retouching images. You need to balance the skin tones before smoothing the skin.

Step 1

Select the skin imperfection with the Lasso tool. Try to identify this area as accurately as possible, but it is not necessary to be perfect, as the edge of the selection will be heavily feathered. Just make the selection as accurate as possible using available tools. When the desired location is highlighted, execute the command Select -> Modify ->Feather. In the dialog box that appears, enter the value to 10 pixels for the smaller selected area and 20 pixels for larger allocated area (in this case it is similar to the created).

Step 2

Click on the Create New Adjustment Layer icon, which is available at the bottom of the Layers panel, in the opened menu click on the Curves. Please note that the highlighted area is already masked by the created adjustment layer.

Step 3

Even if you've never worked with curves, you have absolutely nothing to fear. To retouch these issue areas (to lighten or darken them, depending on the situation) you need to change the brightness of the midtones of the image. So first, in the Adjustments panel click right in the center of the diagonal line on the function Curves graph (the set point is highlighted in the figure below). So far there is nothing difficult, isn't it? Just click on the center of the line.

Step 4

Now you need to drag diagonally upwards the created point (towards the upper left corner of the chart) to lighten the midtones of the image. Watch how the editable part of the image changes. You need to drag a bit a point on the graph to even out the tones of different areas of model’s skin (try it for yourself and you will realize that everything is much simpler than it sounds). If you need to darken the issue area, then drag the center point on the chart downward in the diagonally direction (in the direction of the lower right corner of the chart).

Step 5

In our case, changing the brightness did not help to harmonize skin color. The arm still stands out against the general picture, because it is dominated by blue hue. To fix this, select the blue channel and slightly drag the point in the lower right corner on the graph.

Addition:

If your photos still have issue areas, then fix them in the same way. When shading, use the value greater and less than those, which we chose in step 1, depending on the size of the issue area.

Video tutorial

9. Makeup photo editing

Professional make-up artists are indispensable on the shooting set. Make-up artists can do miracles and make it much easier to retouch images after shooting. The below method cannot replace the work of a professional makeup artist in any way. But if you need to apply a make-up on your own or significantly modify an existing one, this technique is very useful. Let's start to edit the face without any makeup and go through the whole process up to the end.

Of course, before applying makeup, you need to remove all the model’s skin imperfections and wrinkles.

Step 1

Now will reveal the contours of the face more clearly. You should start with the cheekbones. Create another new layer and name it Dark Contour. Change the blending mode of this layer to Multiply, so the brush strokes obscure the image on this layer. Temporarily switch to use the Eyedropper tool and select a sample of darker skin tones in the shade, as shown in the figure below.

Start with the edges of the cheekbones. In this case, you need to decrease the opacity of the brush to 5%, because the dimming effect is sufficiently strong. Perform brush strokes from top to bottom in this shadowed area, down to lower jaw. Consistently apply a few brush strokes on top of one another to increase the effect up to the desired extent. As earlier, we create the effect on a separate layer, so we are able to mitigate it by lowering the opacity of the layer at any time. (In this case we lowered the value of the Opacity parameter to 70%.)

Step 2

Now will slightly lighten some areas on the model's face. In order to do this, create a layer called the Light Contour and change the blending mode of this layer to Screen, so the brush strokes lighten the image. Set the brush opacity to 10%. Choose the light tone of the skin (e.g. cheek) and brush the semi-circles under the both eyes of the model and draw a vertical line down the center of the nose. The skin on the both sides of the nose, the front part of the cheeks, as well as all protruding fragments of the face can be also a bit shaded. If the effect seems too strong, reduce the opacity of the Light Contour layer (in this case, we reduced the opacity of the layer to 75%).

Step 3

We will create the blush on the model’s cheeks on this layer. The first thing you need is to choose the desired color for blush. Click the thumbnail of the base color on the toolbar to open the Color Picker dialog box. In the Step 1 we highlighted the dark contours of the outer edges of the model’s cheekbones. And now will highlight the cheekbones themselves. Reduce the opacity of the brush to 5% and carefully apply the strokes along the cheekbones using the shade of pink. And if the effect seems too strong, reduce the opacity of the layer on which this effect was created. Once all the above steps are done, hold down the < Ctrl > (<⌘ >) and select all the layers in the Layers panel. In the Layers panel menu, choose the New Group From Layers to merge all image layers into a single group. Name the newly created group “Foundation”. If the created makeup effect seems to be too strong, reduce the opacity of the group (in this case, we have reduced the value of this parameter to 52%).

Step 4

Let’s move to the eyes of the model. Of course we will darken the eyebrows ( https://photza.me/blog/view/the-thick-eyebrows, https://photza.me/blog/view/darkening-the-eyebrows ). After that will apply the eyeshadows. Create a new layer titled Eye Shadow and change its blending mode to Multiply. In this step, you need to use the same brush and the same pink shade as in the previous step. Before you start retouching, you can zoom in the fragment of the model’s eye so that it is easier to work with.

Reduce the brush size and do the drawing on the eyelid. And don't forget to apply the same shadow to the other eye. Now use mascara to create the effect of lush lashes ( https://photza.me/blog/view/enhancement-of-the-eyelashes).

Step 5

Create a new layer called Eyeliner, and change the blending mode to Multiply. The brush settings remain the same as in the previous step, but we need to change the main color in the toolbar. In the options bar reduce the brush size, set the Hardness value to 20% to make the brush a bit stiffer. Make a stroke on the upper lashes line from the inner edge of the eye to the outer. Now in the same way draw a lower lashes line. Don't forget to perform the same actions with the other eye.

Step 6

Will lighten a bit the skin under the eyebrow to make eyes look bigger. Create a new layer, “Brow Bone” and change its blending mode to Screen. Use the same brush settings as in the previous step, just reduce the value of Hardness setting to 0% to work with a really soft brush. Using the Eyedropper tool, select a light shade of the skin under the model’s eyebrow and with several strokes apply this color underneath the eyebrow to lighten it (the lightening is possible due to blending of Screen mode that is used for this layer).

Step 7

Strengthen the color saturation of the lips. In order to do this, create a new layer “Lip Density” and change the blend mode to Multiply. You can use the selected in the previous step color, as using the Multiply blend mode the application of this color helps to darken the lips. Now draw the lips to make their color darker and richer.

Step 8

Make lips a bit lighter. Create a new layer “Lip Highlights”. Press key <D> and <X> to choose white as the dominant color. All other settings of the brush stay the same. To lighten the central part of the lips, in the center of the upper and lower lips make some horizontal brush strokes that follow the curves of the lips. If the retouched fragments are too bright, you can reduce the effect by changing the opacity of the edited layer.

Finally, let's place the order on the Layers panel. Merge into the Lips group all the related to the editing of the lips layers.

Video tutorial

10. Creating a porcelain skin effect

The implementation of this technique helps to make the skin of a model white. In addition, we completely remove the skin's natural texture (and perform some more transformations). This is a technique of a German Retoucher Calvin Hollywood, thanks to which the desired effect can be achieved with just two sliders by almost five seconds. Of course, in addition to these actions we have to perform a number of other transformations. But, at least, the effect of white skin you can now create extremely simple.

Step 1

In this picture we will make the skin of the model look like it is made of porcelain. We start to retouch the image in Camera Raw in Photoshop or in the Develop module of Lightroom. The thing is that we need to configure the slider of the orange shades on the HSL tab, which has no equivalent in Photoshop. So open the image with the Camera Raw. (In Photoshop, since version CS5, you can open JPEG, TIFF and PSD in this module.) Locate the image in Bridge, click the right mouse button and select Open with Camera Raw in the menu.

On the HSL/Grayscale Panel (HSL/grayscale) click on the Saturation tab, or scroll to the HSL/Color/B&W panel. Drag the Oranges slider to the end left position. For some images you do not need to drag this slider all the way, but in this case we need this value of the parameter. Now the skin looks grey and not white, but we will fix this in the next step. The main thing in this method is that we fully maintain the color of the lips and eyes, which are very important for further retouching of the image.

Step 2

Go to the Luminance tab and drag the Oranges slider to the right (as shown in the figure, where we dragged the slider to the level of + 18), and the skin becomes white. If you look closely at the picture, you will notice that some fragments (top part of the ears, neck and hands) preserved the shade of red. So to edit this photo, you need to perform some additional actions, which may not be necessary when editing other photos. We need to get rid of red tones on the model’s skin. Our secret is that we open the image as a smart object in Photoshop and that allows us to return to work in Camera Raw by double-clicking on the layer thumbnail at any time. Press and hold down < Shift >. At the same time the Open Image button turns into the Open Object button. Click on this button, and the edited image will be opened with Photoshop as a smart object.

Step 3

So the picture is opened with Photoshop as a smart object. You need to create a copy of this layer in order to subsequently return to working in Camera Raw and to remove the red shades in HSL/ Grayscale tab, leaving the original smart object layer in Photoshop without any changes. When working with smart objects there is one unusual feature: when duplicating the smart object layer, the new layer is linked to the previous. All changes made on one layer are automatically displayed on the second layer. We need to break this connection, to edit two smart objects separately. This is the advantage of working with this program element. To copy the smart object layer and at the same time to unlink the copied layer with the original, make the right-click on the smart object layer to open the menu and select New Smart Object via Copy, as shown in the figure.

Step 4

Тow you can edit a copy of the smart object layer separately. Double-click on the thumbnail of this layer, and the image reopens with Camera Raw. Open the HSL/Grayscale panel and in the Saturation tab, drag the Reds slider to the left to get rid of the red hue under the eyes, at the top of the ears and other model’s skin areas (as shown in the figure, where we dragged the slider to the level of -84). Click OK to apply the changes to only one layer of the smart object.

Step 5

Hold down < Alt > (< Option >), click on the Add Layer Mask icon, which is available at the bottom of the Layers panel. This allows you to hide an entire top layer over the black mask. Press <D> to set white as the dominant color. Use the Brush tool. With a small brush with soft edges paint the reddish areas of skin to discolor them as shown in the figure.

Step 6

Duplicate the background layer of the image once again to separately edit this copy and restore the original colors of the image. Then right-click on the smart object layer to open the menu and select New Smart Object via Copy. Drag the created layer to the top of the Layers panel to make it top in the list of layers.

Hide the editable layer using the black mask and now paint only the piece of the hair image with the white color to restore the original color of the image. While drawing change the brush size to paint all the pieces of the hair image.

Advice

It is not required to draw the hair pattern too precise, because the color saturation of the image fragment can be reduced and it won’t look so dramatically different. In the Layers panel reduce the opacity for the top layer so that the hair color does not stand out from the overall composition, but it still retain its original shade.

Step 7

Now you can create a new layer over all layers, which is a version of all the created layers of the image merged together. To do this, use the key combination < Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E > (<⌘ +Option + Shift + E>). Now we do a thing that is radically different from anything that was described earlier. All this time in the editing process we were worried about how to preserve the natural skin texture. And now will try to completely remove it. For this you can just blur the image (methods described previously) and use the Healing Brush tool to gently remove all the pores, or use any other destructive way to make the skin of the model as smooth as the porcelain.

Step 8

To make the skin even whiter, at the bottom of the Layers panel click on the Create New Adjustment Layer and select Selective Color command. Select Whites from the drop-down list of Colors in the Adjustments Panel. After that, drag the Black slider to the left to get a very white skin.

Tip: make your lips really red

To give the lips a rich red hue, you can create the Selective Color adjustment layer, select Blacks in the drop-down list of Colors and drag the Black slider to the right. This helps to enhance the red hue of the lips.

Step 9

We have to change the color of the model’s lips to almost black with a silver sheen, which better matches the entire composition (at least with the composition of this image). Create another merged layer over all the layers, discolor it using the key combination < Ctrl + Shift + U > (<⌘ + Shift + U >). This removes the color from the image, but does not help us to make the model's lips silver-black. This effect we will achieve later.

Step 10

A very simple method helps us to make the lips darker. In the Create New Adjustment Layer drop-down menu of the Layers panel, select Levels and when the parameters of this function appear in the Adjustments panel, drag the black restrictor of the Input Levels parameter to the right directly under the histogram. This will make the dark shades of the image even darker. Now drag the gray restrictor of the Input Levels parameter to the right. These actions ruin our image, but in this case we are only interested in the lips, which look very good. Press the key combination <Ctrl + E> (<⌘+ E) to merge the Levels function adjustment layer with the discolored layer, which is located underneath. The appearance of the image does not change, but the top two layers now are combined into a single layer.

Step 11

Hold down < Alt > (< Option >), click on the Add Layer Mask icon, which is available at the bottom of the Layers panel to hide the entire top layer with the black mask. Press <D> to choose white as the dominant color. Activate the Brush tool, select a small brush with soft edges and carefully sketch the image of the lips to make them darker (as shown in the picture).

Step 12

Since the edges of the lips still have quite a lot of red lipstick, reduce the opacity of the brush and gently paint these circuits on the mask to cover all the red bits. As the rest of the around skin is white, you don't need to take make the brush strokes perfectly accurate. Just try to sketch the red bits carefully, so they are not visible on the white background.

Video tutorial

11. Sharpening of portrait photos

In most cases, sharpening of photos of men is easy. Clear skin texture looks good for them. But when retouching photos of women’s, we need to avoid increasing the clarity of skin texture in all possible ways. Instead, you should try to enhance the sharpness of only some fragments with important details, such as eyes, mouth, eyebrows, etc. There are three ways to do this:

  1. the first method is very fast, it allows to achieve a pretty good result;
  2. the second one requires more time and effort, but it ensures that the sharpness of the image will be enhanced only at the necessary parts;
  3. and the third method of sharpening in Camera Raw.

1. Quick method of sharpening

Let's start with the quick method, which, most likely, you'll use more often than others. It is to edit just the red channel of three color channels of the image (red, green and blue) because this channel contains least skin texture (what you will see later). But first, to understand why we use the filters of sharpening only for the red color channel, let's consider the other two color channel of an image.

Step 1

In the Channels panel select the blue color channel, as shown in the figure. (Select the corresponding item in the Window menu if the panel is not already open in the working window of the program.)

We intentionally increased the scale of the interested area of the image to clearly show, how much texture there is in this channel. If you increase the sharpness in the image channel, the whole texture of the skin will be much clearer and we need to avoid this at any cost.

Step 2

Select the green channel of an image (it can be a good version of black and white image). Here we can see much less texture, although it is still noticeable. Since we want to highlight the texture of skin in the process of sharpening skin as little as possible, this channel is more preferable compared with the previous versions.

Step 3

Click on the red color channel and look at the image. In fact, this channel displays the fragments of some important parts, such as eyes, eyebrows, etc., and the skin texture is almost imperceptible. Thus, the red color channel contains the objects which sharpness we want to improve, and there is almost no texture, which doesn’t need to be increased. That is why the red color channel is ideal for sharpening of women's portrait photos. When the red channel is selected, run Filter -> Sharpen -> Unsharp Mask and in the filter dialog box enter its value: for the Amount parameter — 120%, for the Radius - 1.0 and for the Threshold parameter - 0. These settings are perfect for sharpening of portrait photos when the sharpening filter is applied only to the red channel of the image.

Step 4

Click OK to close the Unsharp Mask filter dialog box, and in the Channels panel, select the composite RGB channel in order to display a colored version of the edited image in the program window, as shown in the figure. Look at the image of the eyes, lips and even gemstones, they look much sharper. But we hardly increased the sharpness of the fragments of the skin. If necessary, move the newly created layer to the Luminosity blending mode.

Video tutorial

2. More time consuming method of sharpening

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