Image retouching plays an important role in modern online business. It refers to all kind of retouching including evening out skins, blemishes removal, removing spots etc. It is simply the process of making an image more attractive. One of the common use is to retouch portrait face in Photoshop. Many of us spend hours and hours to retouch one image but selecting the right tool and using the right technique is vital. Otherwise the skin will look fake.
In the following Photoshop skin retouching tutorial we will go through step by step process which you can apply to any face to smooth out skins, blemishes, redness, rashes etc.
Open the image in Photoshop and from the layer panel duplicate the background layer by pressing and holding ALT key from keyboard, clicking on the background layer and dragging it down on to the new layer icon . This is because you may want keep your original image safe and work on a separate layer. You can rename the layer "Smooth Skin"
Select the spot healing brush from the Photoshop tool bar
Now click on the unwanted blemishes and remove them. Photoshop will automatically heal blemishes and by replacing the problem texture with good texture from surrounding areas. For perfect result make the brush size a bit larger than the blemishes. in order to change the brush size press right bracket ']' from the keyboard to make it larger and left bracket key '[' to make the brush smaller. If blemish doesn't go completely at the very first place undo your click by clicking Ctrl+Z and them apply the same process again.
Clicking to heal the blemish.
The second blemish is gone.
The blemishes have been removed from her forehead.
While skin retouching you should keep in mind that you are retouching temporary imperfection. Because it is not ok to remove permanent features like moles because this is part of what makes someone who they are. The ultimate goal of retouching is helping someone look more attractive.
While blemishes is removed it is time to smooth and soften the skin. It is always better to use a separate layer. In the layer panel make a copy of the layer by pressing and holding 'Alt' key in windows and 'option' in Mac. Click on the new layer and drag it down to the new layer icon. In the duplicate layer rename the layer like smooth skin and then press ok.
We now have the original layer, spot healing layer and the smooth skin layer. Smooth skin layer has to be appeared above the spot healing layer.
In order to smooth out the skin we will use high pass filter from Photoshop. Filter>other>high pass.
You need to use high pass filter because this filter look for edges in the image and highlight them. in the portrait photos the edges are usually in the hair area, around the persons eyes, the mouth area and so on. on the other hand skin texture has low amount of detail and smoother transition and this area are not considered as edge. High pass filter fills these area with natural grey rather than highlighting them. High pass has a Radius option at the bottom. What it does is it controls the thickness of the edge highlighting. Other words when Photoshop detect an edge the radius value tells how many pixel on either side should be included as part of the edge. Low radius value will highlight the finest details of an image but high radius value highlight surrounding area of the image. For the portrait image the radius value should be around 24 pixels.
If you are working on a low res image the radius value should be 12 to 18 pixel. After selecting the radius value click 'ok' from the high pass dialogue box and the image will turn into grey. Solid grey are the non edge area and the high contrast halos are edges.
Now the high pass filter need to be blur because blurring will help to bringing out more good skin texture. From the filter menu choose blur> Gaussian blur.
In the Gaussian blur dialogue box set the radius value to 8pixel and then press ok. The radius value has to be one third of the high pass filter value that we used before. With the blurring effect the high pass effect will now look more softer and less detailed.
From the layer panel change the blend mode of the 'skin smooth' to linear light. This creates a high contrast.
From the image menu choose adjustment>Invert
With the layer inverted the image goes from being over sharpen to blurry halos around the portrait.
In order to reduce the halo effect click 'layer style' at the bottom of the layer panel and then choose the 'Blending option' form the top list.
From the layer style box select the Blend If slider from the bottom. There are two sliders out there, one is called 'This layer' and the other one is called 'underlying layer'. Please select This layer. You can notice there are sliders below each end of the gradient bar. These actually controls how the 'Sooth skin layer' blends with the image. Now press and hold Alt key form the keyboard and click the right slider and drag it to the left slider. Now watch the image as you drag slider, the halos are fading away. Drag slider to the left as much as possible.
In order to reduce dark halos press and hold Alt and click slider on the left and drag the right half of it to the right. You have to drag all most all the way to completely disappear the dark halos. Then click ok to choose the layer style dialogue box.
To limit smoothing skin just to the skin you need to add a layer mask. From the layer panel press and hold Alt key and click add layer mask icon.
Select the brush tool form the tool bar.
Set the foreground color to white. Swatch in the upper left is the foreground color and the bottom is the background color.
Before painting check the brush option from the option bar. The mode has to set to normal Opacity and Flow at 100%. Now start painting over the skin for the smoothing effect. You can change brush hardness by pressing Shift>right/left bracket key. Right key is for the hardness and left key is for the softness. Start painting form the forehead then nose, cheeks and around the eyes and all over the body. Adjust the brush size if you need to do so.
You have soften the skin but at this point the effect is too intense. To reduce it you have to lower the opacity of 'smooth skin layer' . Depending on the image the opacity has to be between 40% to 60%. At this point you are done with skin retouching process and the final result is a beautiful looking image.
The final skin smoothing result.