Retouch face skin in Photoshop

The author of the video lesson: Elena Vinogradova

When you mention retouching, people often think of unrealistically flawless haute couture models and cover girls that they see in magazines. In photos of this kind there is no need to achieve realism. Instead, photographers try to create the impossible from the impossible. Flawless leather is allowed, but at the same time it should not look like plastic. Often the task is to create to apply a similar effect to a person who is not even close to the ideal. You should know how to completely restore the skin, if you are prompted by the task. Of course, today nothing is impossible.
In this example, we will work with a snapshot of this attractive woman of fifty years.

It is not surprising that in our culture, obsessed with young, photographers are asked to overthrow the various writers, musicians, actors and actresses from people for three decades. Since cinema and television still have low resolution, people often cannot determine how old their favorite idols are. I’m not going to expose anyone here, so we’ll just completely reconstruct this woman’s skin.


Step 1. As usual, we start by creating a new layer. In this case, we will duplicate the background image (background) by dragging it onto the icon create a new layer (createnewlayer) in the layers palette. Our task is to blur this copy as the basis for a new skin, so let’s rename the layer (double click on the name of the copy of the layer) and name it Blur on the surface (Surface Blur).

Select Filter – Blur – Blur on the surface (Filter Blur Surface Blur).

Filter Blur on the surface (Surfaceblur) appears in Photoshop CS2, it is especially often used in such operations. This blur preserves the transition edges, but at the same time controls the creation of a very smooth blur. Slider Radius (Radius) controls the intensity of the blur, and the slider Threshold (Threshold) sets how strong the image should be sharp. Unlike other blur filters, high setting Threshold (Threshold) gives a greater blur effect. You need to adjust the sliders to smooth absolutely all the wrinkles and skin texture, leaving the main elements unaffected.

Note: users of CS versions can use the filter Median (Median) (Filter – Noise – Median (FilterNoiseMedian). This filter has only one slider, but you can get a similar result, although not such a good smoothing effect.

Step 2. We need to hide this blurred layer. layer mask (layermask). Press and hold the Option / Alt key and click on the icon Layer mask (Layermask) at the bottom of the layers palette.

This action will create a black layer mask and hide the blurred layer, revealing the original image.
Now just paint over layer mask (layermask) white to cover those areas of skin that you want to smooth.

The site you are working with may be barely visible if you paint over everything. You can turn off the visibility of the background layer to see if there are any gaps left. To do this, click on the eyelet icon in front of the thumbnail of the background (background) layer in the layers palette.

Carefully bypass those areas that need to be preserved during the painting of “bad” skin – eyes, lips, etc. At this stage you should have something similar to the image below:

Step 3. The skin will be smoothed, but the colors and tones may look stained. To fix this, create a new layer, but to do this, hold down the Option / Alt key and click on the create icon new layer (newlayer), to bring up a dialog with parameters new layer (newlayer).

Note translator:if after perfect manipulations you didn’t open a window like the author’s, try the following way: Layer – New – Layer (LayerNewLayer), now the necessary window should open before you.

Check the box opposite Use the previous layer to create a clipping mask (Use Previous Layer To Create Clipping Mask).

This will allow the mask of the previous layer to control the new layer to be painted.
Take a big soft brush, and a color swatch with blurred skin (Option / Alt + click to turn the cursor into Dropper (eyedropper) and take a color swatch) and paint over with a very low opacity (opacity), to smooth out smooth colors and tones.

At this stage you need to restore some hints on the old skin. Select a blurred layer by clicking on its thumbnail in the layers palette. Move the slider Opacity (opacity) slightly to the left to reveal the same skin.

Step 4. Now we need to create layers of Brightening (Dodge) and Shading (Burn) and lighten any unattractive wrinkles on the left. Option / Alt + click on creation icon new layer (newlayer) at the bottom of the layers palette. This action will open the create dialog. new layer (newlayer).

Note translator:if after perfect manipulations you didn’t open a window like the author’s, try to go the following way: Layer – New – Layer (LayerNewLayer), now the necessary window should open before you.

Change mode (mode) on Soft light (SoftLight), and then tick Fill with the neutral color of the Soft Light mode (Fill With Soft-Light-Neutral Color). This action will fill the new layer with 50% gray (50% gray). You must save the mask that you created to the blurred layer. Use the tool Clarifier (Dodge), to lighten the wrinkles. In the picture you can see how the layer with lightening will look if you change the mode with soft light (SoftLight) on Normal / Normal (Normal).

In this case, the skin of the woman appeared to be very smooth with small patches of texture of the original skin. To protect the image from the effect of plastic, you need to add even more texture to the skin. I experimented with all sorts of different approaches. Although I am not completely satisfied with the presented technique, at the moment it came to me to imitate the texture of the skin. I will continue to experiment until I find the best texture.

Step 5. So again create a new gray layer. overlap (overlay). Option / Alt + click on creation icon new layer (newlayer) at the bottom of the layers palette to open the dialog for creating a new layer. Check the box opposite Use previous layer to create clipping mask (Use Previous Layer To Create Clipping Mask), select Overlap (Overlay) from the drop down menu modes (mode) and tick Fill with the neutral color of the “Overlap” mode (Fill With Overlay-Neutral Color) (50% gray (gray)).

The layer palette should look like the image below:

The last three layers have been adjusted. opacity (opacity) and maskedlayer (layermask) layer with blur. To have a clearer idea of ​​how the Texture layer will affect some things, temporarily increase opacity (opacity) the blurred layer is 100%. You will not see the original texture, but you will see the texture you are going to create. You will also see bleached lines where wrinkles are lightened; You can temporarily turn off the visibility of this layer if it distracts you.

Step 6. Select the Texture layer in the Overlay mode and go to the filter. Noise (Noise) (Filter – Noise – Add Noise (FilterNoiseaddnoise). Mark the fields Uniform (uniform) and Monochrome (Monochromatic) and add enough noise to make the image look like a three-dimensional film frame.

The ideal value of this filter depends on the size and resolution of the file. In fact, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to all images. Rely on your own discretion, and sometimes do a test print to appreciate such subtle effects as noise.
Many photographers would stop at this effect, but this noise is too harsh for our purposes. With the Texture layer selected in the Overlay mode, go to the filter. Blur (Blur) (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (FilterBlurGaussianBlur)) use only a little blur to soften noisy edges without absolute smoothing them.

Step 7. Sometimes this is enough to do what you need, but usually I create a more complex set of textures to imitate real skin. Therefore go to filter Stamping (Emboss) (Filter – Styling – Embossing (FilterStylizeEmboss)).

The texture still looks unattractive, so you need to soften it a bit. You can correctly convert any filter after using the command Let loose (Fade). Go to menu Editing (Edit) (right after applying the filter) and select Editing – Loosen the emboss (EditFadeEmboss).

Go back to the blurred layer and reduce it. opacity (opacity) up to about 70%. You should have something like the image below:

Compare it with skin that was not subject to retouching.

Step 8. For the final retouching work, I made the eyes brighter, applied light eye shadow and darkened the edges a little.

Since the entire retouching process was performed on layers managed by a blurred layer, you can reduce it slightly if you wish. opacity (opacity), to get more realistic visualization.

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