Photoshop Tutorial- Skin Retouching Technique

Rokaiya Yeasmin Munni | May 28, 2014

Banner of skin retouching tutorial

Photo retouching tutorial with frequency separation, burn and dodge tools in Photoshop:

Today we are going to learn how to do a basic skin retouching technique by using dodging and burning tools, as well as frequency separation. You may find that when you first try it, it does not look very impressive. Once you get some practice in, you will find that you can use an image retouching technique to retouch a face in just a few short minutes. Remember though, this is a basic Photoshop tutorial, not an advanced one, which will come later. You want to create a natural look, yet maintain a smooth, natural skin appearance and texture.

The following sections will explain how to retouching portrait in Photoshop.

Open the image and the background layer:

In this skin retouching tutorial, the first thing you will do, is the frequency separation. In order to do that you will need to open the image and the background layer.

 Open the image in Photoshop

Open background layer

Create 2 duplicate layers:

Next, you will need to create 2 duplicate layers of the background by right clicking on the background layer. The 1st layer will need to be renamed, “to color”. The 2nd layer will be called, “to texture”.

First layer called to color

 Second-layer-called-to-texture

Isolating the color on one layer:

What you will be doing is isolating the color on one layer, and the texture is isolated on the other layer. So then on the color layer you would go to filter/blur/Gaussian and blur.

 Applying gaussian blur

Now you want to increase the radius until you observe the colors mixing together, I am selecting 15 for this image. Next hit “OK,” when you are finished.

 Set redius

Isolating the texture on the other layer:

Next, go to the texture layer, and go to image/apply image. Then you will need to select your color layer, as you are simply adding the texture back, set your off limit scale to 2, and offset to 128, and hit OK.

 Apply image

Then select your blending mode set it to linear light.

Select liner light from blending mode

Applying clone stamp tool in the color layer:

Then in the next part of the Photoshop tutorial, you will begin with the color layer. You would start with the clone stamp. Opacity and flow are set roughly from 30-50%.

 Clone stamp tool

Select an area underneath the eyes, as that seems to make a huge difference, and clone color from the upper part of the cheekbone as it seems to be lighter there, and bring that up to just under the eyes. Lighten the skin there on both sides under the eyes. It is often helpful if you make and extra copy of the background layer and see the different of before and after image.

Applying clone stamp tool in eye area

Then you would want to lighten a bit on the side of the nose to remove any dark shadows there. Use the tool to lighten at the bottom of the nose, as many people have redness there. So basically you would retouch different parts of the face to remove lines, bumps, shadows and redness, and general lightening of the skin.

 lines, bumps, shadows and redness, and-general lightening of the skin

Applying clone stamp tool in the texture layer to remove spots:

Next you will move on to the texture layer. Here you want to use the same clone stamp tool. Just simply go over the face, and find the obvious blemishes, selecting the clear area and dragging them to the spots area of skin. If you find any redness remaining, just go back to the color clone and remove it as before.

Using clone stamp tool selecting-the-clear-area-and-dragging-them to the spots area of skin

Contiously applying clone stamp tool to remove spots

Removing spots from forhead

Removed all spots

You can also use the clone stamp tool to clean up any stray hairs or eyebrow hairs if you choose. I like to remove any fine lines around the mouth area, or creases under the lips too.

Cleaned up stray hairs or eyebrow

Dodging and Burning:

This next area of the portrait retouching tutorial covers how to use the dodging and burning tools.

Create new layer for burn and dodg tool

Open a new layer, click on soft light and fill width, set at 50%.

Make two layers called Burn and Dodg

You will need 2 of those layers. One named “dodge,” and other named “burn.” Here you will be using the dodge tool and the burn tool.

Select exposure

Click on exposure of 50% for each one. With these you can paint with pretty much any color, white, black, blue, or others.

Applying dodge tool in dodge layer:

 After applying dodg tool

Start out around the eye areas, or in the eyes like the iris, under the brows, by the brow bone. You need to consider areas that a girl would use makeup for, lightening uneven skin tones, remove blemishes, etc. Finish any areas that need brightened, (nose, cheeks or eyes).

Applying burn tool in burn layer:

Use the burn tool to darken the eyebrows a bit. You can also darken the outer corner of the eye, and give the impression that it is lifted just a bit. This can be useful if you have someone who is squinting a bit, or has droopy eyes. The burn tool can also be used to add definition to the cheekbones. You can also darken the eyeliner a little.

After applyed burn tool

Now you can do a new layer, set to soft light. Just use the black paintbrush and create extra eyeliner if you wish. If you over do or smudge the lines, you can always clean it up with the eraser tool. You can even add an eye shadow color, lip and check color if you wish, some people really like that effect.

After applyed eye shadow, check and lip color

See the different in the bellow image:

Before and after image of photo retouching

So there you have it, how to do retouching portraits in Photoshop, using the frequency separation, and the burn and dodge tools. You will find that these work very well for portraits and photos of faces as well as other areas. Hope you have enjoyed this portrait retouching tutorial and have a better understanding of basic skin retouching in Photoshop.

Rokaiya Yeasmin Munni

Rokaiya Yeasmin Munni is the Manager Head of Digital Marketing of Clipping Path India, an offshore outsourcing image editing partner for internet retailers, photographers, designers, print media and webmasters worldwide. She has been working in Graphics Design, Content Management and Digital Marketing for the last 17 years.

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