The 15 Minute Makeover: Photoshop Beauty Retouching

A split image showing results both before and after my 15 minute makeover.

Skin needs to be retouched. Even beautiful skin with great makeup. The problem with most of the Photoshop techniques I’ve experimented with over the years (burning & dodging individual pores, Surface Blur filter, Dust and Scratches filter, etc.) is they take too long, aren’t very convincing, or - worst of all - make the subject look like a victim of plastic surgery gone bad.

In this article I’m going to show you a combination of techniques I regularly use that results in beautiful, smooth skin that still looks totally real. Best of all, it won’t take all day to accomplish. From start to finish, an experienced Photoshop user should be able to do this in about 15 minutes.

Our workflow follows three basic stages.

1. Manually retouch big flaws and wrinkles via a separate retouching layer

2. Merge the retouching edits into the image layer

3. Use the Red channel of the merged layer to smooth the skin

Before we get started I want you to beware of and avoid what I call Photographer’s Tunnel Vision - that compulsive desire to do the fun stuff first. Making things perfect comes at the end, not the beginning, of the retouching process. Keep your eye on the big picture (no pun intended).

The first tools we'll be reaching for are the Clone Stamp Tool and Spot Healing Brush. With these we can retouch major blemishes, flyaway hairs, and any other texture/color irregularities.

Stage 1: Retouch Obvious Blemishes and Imperfections

Create a new, empty pixel layer above the Background layer to receive the retouching. The trick here will be to choose the Sample All Layers option while using the Spot Healing Brush and the Current and Below option for the Clone Stamp Tool. This ensures that your chosen tool will copy pixels from the Background into the new layer above it.

Go to Layer>New>Layer and add a new, empty pixel layer. Start by retouching the most obvious problems first. Then tackle progressively more subtle issues.
Turn off the visibility of the Background layer to see the edits of your retouching layer in isolation. Here you see the appropriate sampling options for the Clone Stamp Tool and the Spot Healing Brush.

Why not retouch right on the Background layer? If you make a mistake, and don’t notice right away, you have to start all over again! Well, couldn't I just duplicate the Background layer, you may ask? That's better than nothing, but it’s still not a great solution: any retouching you do this way is interwoven into the image pixels, so mistakes can often be more complicated to correct.

By contrast, using a separate 'retouching layer' is elegant. It avoids destructive editing, keeps file sizes small, and allows you to easily change your mind or correct mistakes. Since there’s nothing in the retouching layer but retouching edits and transparency, mistakes are easily dealt with; just delete or erase problem areas without touching the rest of your work. Of course, if you like the adrenaline rush of working without a safety net, be my guest. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cloning and Healing

The Clone Stamp Tool (S) has been a standby for retouchers for many years. To use it, make sure the Aligned Sample box is checked and set the sampling option to Current and Below, which allows you to match tone, texture and color. Option/Alt+click to set the source from which to copy. Then click or brush to remove the blemish.

The Spot Healing Brush (J) is a more recent addition to Photoshop that does a remarkable job of automatically matching tone, texture and color. To use it, enable the Content-Aware and Sample All Layers options. There's no need to set a source point, just click or brush to remove the blemish. This tool can often seem like magic, but it's not infallible. If your first stroke with the Spot Healing Brush isn’t perfect, undo (Cmd/Ctrl+Z) and try stroking from a different direction. To be certain your work is perfect, always view your file at 100% magnification when retouching. If texture, tone, or color do not match, undo and try again. Our goal is for each brush stroke to be invisible - even to you.

With either tool, you will find that some blemishes call for a single click, while others are best removed with a series of short brush strokes. Initially you may have to experiment to find which situations calls for one or the other, but with practice, this will become second nature.

How do you know when you're ready to move on to the next stage? Retouch as I've described above until you’re satisfied that no flaws bigger than a freckle are visible anymore.

Tip: You can use more than one retouching layer. At left you can see I used three separate layers to retouch this file; one for skin blemishes and such, another to retouch the model’s hair and a third for the area under her eyes.

For even finer control, you could make separate retouching layers for working underneath each eye, on the neck, or anywhere else.

Pay Attention to the Eyes

I always use a separate layer when working on the eyes because it allows me to adjust the opacity of the retouching; striking a perfect balance point between enhanced and overdone. Allowing a bit of the original image to show thorough keeps everything real. It’s up to you how much. If you’ve never done this, you’ll be amazed at the control you can exercise by adjusting the overall opacity of an under-eye retouching layer.

Yes, I know… You can achieve the same result by varying the opacity of the brushes. But with brushes you have to get it exactly right the first time. There’s no experimenting. No changing your mind later. It’s so much easier (and more powerful) to smooth away folds, bags, or dark circles under the eyes, and then dial back the opacity until it looks believable. Take a close look at the examples below.

Here is the image with only skin retouches applied. The eyes could use a little help.
Here is the image with my 'retouching - under eyes' layer at an opacity of 100%. The result is far too strong and looks fake, but this is actually by design. I've purposely overdone the retouching here, knowing that I can always reduce the layer's opacity. Remember, you can always go below 100% but not above it.
Here is the same retouching layer but at an opacity of 50%. Perfect!

Stage 2: Merge All of Your Layers Into a New Layer

Now we're ready to merge all of our working layers into a brand new layer. Why a new layer? Because in a moment we’ll be using the Red channel as the basis for our skin smoothing, and we need that channel to include all of the visible information: the original pixels and the retouching.

Furthermore, we don't want to lose access to the hard work we've done up to this point, so we want to copy all of these layers into a new layer, rather than simply flattening the image! The Merge Visible command is found in the fly-out menu at the upper right of the Layers Panel as well as in the main Layers menu. But here's where a keyboard modifier is a must. Holding the option key when choosing this menu item tells Photoshop to merge into a new layer. Otherwise, it's virtually the same as Flatten Image. The keyboard shortcut for merging all visible layers into a new layer is Opt+Shift+Cmd+E (Alt+Shift+Ctrl+E on Windows). This shortcut is affectionately known as 'The Claw'. Try it with one hand and you’ll understand why!

Since the merged layer will appear above whichever layer is active at the time, highlight the top layer in the stack before merging. Hold the option key when choosing this menu item, so Photoshop merges everything visible into a brand new layer. The merged layer appears here (on the right) as Layer 1.

As you can easily find yourself with multiple retouching layers, now is a good time to get them organized by using layer groups. Select your retouching layers in the Layers panel and choose New Group From Layers in the panel's fly-out menu. Give the group a name, like oh, I don't know, 'Retouching' and hit OK. This is a great way to keep your layers manageable and easily accessible.

Click here to go to page 2 of our beauty retouching tutorial...

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 169
12
PaoloBosetti
By PaoloBosetti (Dec 9, 2011)

I appreciate the article, but I still do prefer the original. It's the difference between a real person and a Barbie doll.

5 upvotes
spidermoon
By spidermoon (Dec 9, 2011)

Nice article, but i don't love this false look, it's like living in gattaca. On my P&S, i have a magic make up button, perfect for a perfect plastic look with no post production.

3 upvotes
mantra
By mantra (Dec 9, 2011)

wow thanks
it's a beatuiful contribute
would be very nice have in pdf or a video!
thanks a lot!

2 upvotes
HarrieD7000
By HarrieD7000 (Dec 9, 2011)

Thanks for sharing this beautiful article. Great initiative. I will try to follow your workflow as described here.

1 upvote
Peter Theglev
By Peter Theglev (Dec 9, 2011)

I have to aggree with the critics on this one. It's waaaay too plastic-fantastic for my taste. Obivously you can choose other opacity-settings etc., but the trick is to maintain pores etc., so you don't end up with the Barbie-look (very popular in Turkey's weeding-photographer-community).

5 upvotes
nicolas guilbert
By nicolas guilbert (Dec 10, 2011)

Working as a photo retoucher and moved from europe to SE Asia, I can tell you, You are out of business if you don't end up with the Barbie-look in these countries.

0 upvotes
hadim
By hadim (Dec 9, 2011)

Very Nice & handy article.
thanks

2 upvotes
Florian Wardell
By Florian Wardell (Dec 9, 2011)

Excellent! More like this please!

2 upvotes
Debankur Mukherjee
By Debankur Mukherjee (Dec 9, 2011)

Very Nice Article .....

1 upvote
TxCamFan
By TxCamFan (Dec 9, 2011)

Great article. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and post this! Such a shame that, as usual, there are too many "Negative Nellies" on here. I guess some people just have to snark about anything. Thanks again!

3 upvotes
Jens_G
By Jens_G (Dec 9, 2011)

Overcooked imo.
Although this is probably what the average client wants to see.
It's taken me a while to realize that there's a massive difference between what's good and what most people think of as good.

7 upvotes
StefB
By StefB (Dec 9, 2011)

Very, very true ... people say they want a "naturally looking" portrait in the first place and I end up retouching pretty much like shown in the article, sometimes even more! Amazing some people seem to have beauty retouching "build in" their mirror or something, so they see themselves that way ... no harm meant, just a observation.

2 upvotes
Jeroen Sabon
By Jeroen Sabon (Dec 24, 2011)

Very useful tutorial. On page two you say:With our selection still active, we add the layer mask by going to Layer>Add Layer Mask>Reveal All. Shouldn't that be Reveal Selection?

0 upvotes
Sonnik
By Sonnik (Dec 9, 2011)

Thanks for sharing this.

I found a discrepancy though. In the 1st paragraph under STAGE 1, you say: "The trick here will be to choose the Sample All Layers option while using the Clone Stamp Tool and the Current and Below option for the Spot Healing Brush."

But, in the 4th picture under that paragraph, the Photoshop modes you highlight are the opposite of that!

Which one is correct?

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Dec 9, 2011)

Fixed. Thanks for pointing that out.

0 upvotes
delnerdo
By delnerdo (Dec 9, 2011)

Bravo! This is great and will broaden my capabilities. I wish I had read it before sending out our holiday card order for printing.

0 upvotes
bpalme
By bpalme (Dec 9, 2011)

Prefer natural but I think it's ok to take off some blemishes like pimpels.
Reminds me of glamor shots.

1 upvote
SF Photo Gal
By SF Photo Gal (Dec 9, 2011)

Portrait Professional has kind of spoiled me, but I'll have to give this a try.

0 upvotes
Sordid
By Sordid (Dec 9, 2011)

I still think that Portrait Professional most of the time produces very artificially looking results.

1 upvote
James True
By James True (Dec 9, 2011)

A very clear, well illustrated and organized article. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge.

3 upvotes
Mostly Lurking
By Mostly Lurking (Dec 9, 2011)

I'm certainly glad this article was posted and I' sure it's of value to many photographers / post-processors, especially to commercial photography. So thank you for doing so.

However, as an amateur, I prefer to touch-up blemishes individually and allow the 'character' of person to be seen. No 'plastic' skin for me, thank you!

6 upvotes
Tom Bird
By Tom Bird (Dec 9, 2011)

as he said: just reduce opacity from 100% to 15%, 10% or 5%

1 upvote
geminihc
By geminihc (Dec 9, 2011)

great article! i learned some new tricks , especially about the red channel blur to make skin smooth.

BUT can you go into abit more detail why the red channel specifically?

thanks,

0 upvotes
ir Bob
By ir Bob (Dec 9, 2011)

That's an easy one if you're coming from B&W film photography. Ever taken a portrait of someone with a red filter on the lens to darken the sky?

For the luminosity blending trick you'll want a layer where the skin is very light. The skin contains many blood vessels, and these are reddish in colour. The red channel will therefore be very light in the skin area. (like the skin of someone photographed with a red filter on B&W film)

1 upvote
alienchow
By alienchow (Dec 9, 2011)

No. 25 and T-Max 100 @ 25. Magic bullet back in the day. I don't want to go back any farther. That was long enough!

0 upvotes
pixel_colorado
By pixel_colorado (Dec 9, 2011)

Wow...lets make women feel bad about themselves.

2 upvotes
Jens_G
By Jens_G (Dec 9, 2011)

+1
Time to get back at them for all that rejection as a teen.

2 upvotes
Sordid
By Sordid (Dec 9, 2011)

I do a lot of self portraits and being a really handsome man, I do retouches on myself although I am generally very happy with my appearance.
Photos, especially close-ups, are just extremely flat, revealing and sometimes cruel.

I'll quote Scott Kelby here:

"You can have a one-on-one conversation with someone
for a solid hour, take a quick portrait of them, and when you open their image, every flaw, every blemish,
and every little imperfection you totally missed during your conversation may as well have a big red circle
around it and a large arrow pointing right to it.
[...]
So, our job, when we’re retouching people, is to take that flat, unflattering, two-dimensional still image
of them, where every flaw doesn’t just stand out, but gets magnified, and make them look as good as they
did when they were standing right in front of us."

3 upvotes
pixel_colorado
By pixel_colorado (Dec 9, 2011)

@Sordid ...yes, and make them look plastic.

0 upvotes
Sordid
By Sordid (Dec 9, 2011)

@Pixel_Colorado
I agree, it's overdone here. Which isn't basically a bad thing since when you're completely new to the art of portrait retouching, you won't notice subtle differences.
But once you got the hang of it and don't rely on plugins like Portraiture or Portrait Pro anymore, you can work in a very subtle manner.

0 upvotes
rgibbons
By rgibbons (Dec 10, 2011)

At a wedding I took portrait pictures of the Bride's father, the bride loved them, and asked for an enlargement for the wall. Her father hated it, saying he looked older in that picture than any other (he actually was older in that picture than any of his older photos). 10 years later I visited the father's home, and he had that portrait proudly displayed, and told me he wishes he still looked that good.

Erasing some wrinkles and age spots make people look like they remember looking in pictures. Their mind seems to make an image that is the average of pictures taken over many years; and they don't want the newest portrait to show them as being older than any other photo did.

I don't think you make people feel bad by slightly reducing a wrinkle under the eyes, instead, you make many people feel better about themselves (and feel better about the photographer too). I prefer soft fill lighting when the picture is taken to reduce wrinkles, but Software is nice when I can't.

Russ

Comment edited 13 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
gj jones
By gj jones (Dec 9, 2011)

i like both images...lots of the photogs here are very critical...or just passionate about photography and that i understand totally..... but i think this is a "how t to .lesson and not about her needing to be retouched....and i might add that an " artistic interpretation".....is never wrong because its in the mind of the artist and what he sees

1 upvote
jjlad
By jjlad (Dec 13, 2011)

I agree. The arguments about it not being 'real' after retouching are off base. To me, softening the eye shadows and blems and warming up the skin tone ..all in moderation ..only show the subject at her best ..not at the impossible. We aren't making a 70 year old with no teeth and cataracts ..look like a 20 year old cover girl. Everything in moderation, and this tutorial shines at that and the techniques are perfectly appropriate when used sensibly.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
hatem95
By hatem95 (Dec 13, 2011)

Akhenaten would have been ashamed if he had heard of photoshop retouching. what is the idea of photography if you guys want to touch up the truth ?? Why dont you guys go back to sketching and drawing ??

0 upvotes
lacroix75
By lacroix75 (Dec 8, 2011)

Great article, thank you for sharing!

2 upvotes
Parsek
By Parsek (Dec 8, 2011)

I like the way she looks with "blemishes".

5 upvotes
AllC
By AllC (Dec 8, 2011)

Great article! I will bookmark it for future reference.

I just bought a copy of PS Elements 10 (it's en route now). Will I be able to do all this? Will I miss any of the things done in the article? cheers

PS: having the original photo would be a nice bonus :)

1 upvote
ricko5
By ricko5 (Dec 8, 2011)

Very good article. I'm a pro retoucher when wearing one of my hats and I haven't tried this red channel technique before (although I suspect I have achieved much the same thing through various channel mixes and adjustments), I'll give it a go on the next appropriate job.

For those who think it looks a bit OTT, well that depends on the client / final usage and also the size of print or display of the final image. It is always possible to slide back the opacity to your liking giving you the best of both worlds.

3 upvotes
jean miele
By jean miele (Dec 8, 2011)

Thanks, ricko5. That's exactly my intention. Since the retouching, and the Red-Channel skin-smoothing are set up as individual layers, the intensity of the effects can be regulated in 1% increments. It's totally up to the user.

3 upvotes
duartix
By duartix (Dec 8, 2011)

Nice tutorial, now can you fix her left eye?

0 upvotes
chadley_chad
By chadley_chad (Dec 8, 2011)

It seems a lot of effort ... I think I'll just buy a NEX100 and shoot at ISO1600 ... let that smooth out all the wrinkles via over processing :o)

7 upvotes
Ken7628
By Ken7628 (Dec 8, 2011)

Very nice tutorial, Jean! Thanks for taking the time.

1 upvote
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Dec 8, 2011)

I'd like to have the original so I could see what my usual approach, which involves about 2-3 minutes in Lightroom, can do and how the final result compares. This result looks a little over-done to me. To me, retouching should be like makeup - if you can see it, there's too much.

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Dec 8, 2011)

Why not just take one of your own images, process it once in LR using your technique and then process a duplicate in PS using the workflow laid out in the article? Simple.

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Dec 9, 2011)

I don't have PS.

1 upvote
rambler35
By rambler35 (Dec 8, 2011)

Thankyou for the very good and useful tutorial, Jean.

But to avoid criticism, I think you should have emphasized that "skin smoothing" need not be taken as far as the "plastic" look that some people here are complaining about.

Even in glamour shots, personally I like to see at least a subtle indication that some skin pores do indeed exist. Otherwise it would seem that the model's health is in great danger!

1 upvote
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Dec 8, 2011)

Difficult stuff! I mean ... the result looks obviously retouched. Not extremely too much, but slightly too much. Less should be better IMHO.

The girl is very pretty even before any retouch, so maybe no retouch is best.

Now, I live in a country where girls generally not use all that much makeup and beauty operations are not all that common. So ... maybe I am biased.

3 upvotes
Antonio de Curtis
By Antonio de Curtis (Dec 9, 2011)

swedish beauties don't need retouching !

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Dec 9, 2011)

Actually, if you look at any 25+ girl, Swedish or not, perfect skin or not, there are traces of the wear of years here and there in the face. Thats the way it is.

And what I meant was that since Swedish girls in common dont use all that much makeup (exceptions exist) I am used to see them this way.

So - if you then photoshop the photos to create perfect skin it looks alien to me. Not necessarily bad, but alien.

Someone living in another part of the world (maybe US) where females use a large portion of the morning to retouch themselves might have a totally different view though. Then it might look more natural.

2 upvotes
superrune
By superrune (Dec 10, 2011)

Perhaps the makeup is so subtle that you have a hard time noticing it? A discrete form of makeup is more popular in Scandinavia (I'm from Norway). Be aware that girls are pretty good at fixing themselves, to the point that most men don't notice :)

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Vicari
By Vicari (Dec 8, 2011)

Nice article. I think your final image looks good and was not over corrected. It's lit well and the makeup artist did good work. Correction is simply a part of the photography process.

1 upvote
techmine
By techmine (Dec 8, 2011)

personally, I hate beautifying faces with Photoshop :-)

7 upvotes
grafli
By grafli (Dec 8, 2011)

I guess its not the article for you then...

5 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Dec 9, 2011)

I dislike beautifying faces with Photoshop. That's right, I did not read it -- just wanted to know how to recognize a fake when I see one.

0 upvotes
tony field
By tony field (Dec 11, 2011)

Quite a fine article. My recap is:

1. Retouch skin as "necessary".
2. Smooth skin as "necessary".

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Guido FORRIER
By Guido FORRIER (Dec 8, 2011)

i also like much more the original but the client has to like it . i am sure that a lot of beauty but already aged women will prefer the original ( at least in Europe) to show they do not need all that polishing .
for advertising : well maybe a good expert with a fast computer + 3D software can create the "perfect" beauty's . no need for a photographer or a model .

1 upvote
Ed Saye
By Ed Saye (Dec 8, 2011)

If one anticipates further edits even after retouching is done (art directors will always have more input), I've found it useful to not merge the layers but rather create a Smart Object from them all. This efficiently retains all the edits non-destructively.

Then, you can duplicate that Smart Object, put an Channels adjustment layer on it with the Red channel at 100 and the others at 0. From this point, any further retouching edits done to the Smart Object and then saved will automatically update on both the image and the red channel used for skin smoothing.

0 upvotes
jean miele
By jean miele (Dec 8, 2011)

That's an interesting take, Ed. And you get the bonus points for pointing out that a Channel Mixer adjustment layer with the Red channel at 100 and the others at 0 would be the third way to bring the Red Channel into the mix. Just to be extra-clear, though, in the tutorial, I'm advocating merging into a new layer by holding the option key as you 'Merge Visible.' This allows you access to a Red Channel that contains both Background and retouching - and lets you keep all the flexibility you've created with your separate retouching layers.

0 upvotes
Dirk Jan
By Dirk Jan (Dec 8, 2011)

Thanks for the write up! Learned a new trick after using PS professionally for a year or ten, hehe. Then again, I don't do much skin retouching.
Only one thing didn't work for me in CS5; copying the red channel and pasting it as a new layer through the the channel list. I did it exactly how you described (clicking to activate red channel only, ctr+c, clicking RGB channel -> ctrl+v), yet it only wants to copy all channels at once it seems. Through the Image menu it worked fine though.

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Dec 8, 2011)

Did you do a select all (Ctrl+A) with the red channel selected before you did the copy/paste?

0 upvotes
jean miele
By jean miele (Dec 8, 2011)

This is definitely the trickiest part, Dirk. It's a question of Photoshop "geography." The channels "live" in a different place than the layers. We need to copy from one place to the other - from channels to layers. Here's a step by step clarification.
1) Make sure the Red Channel is the only one highlighted in blue, and that the eyeball is turned on. 2) Select all, and copy, as Amadou suggests above. 3) Turn the RGB composite image back on before pasting; This means all channels highlighted in blue and all eyeballs on the left side of the Channels Panel turned on. 4) Paste. Have fun.

0 upvotes
Dirk Jan
By Dirk Jan (Dec 9, 2011)

Thanks for clarifying. I figured it out now; The problem was needing to switch OFF visibility of all other channels as well, rather than simply clicking a channel to select it, before I was able to copy-paste just that channel into a new layer. In that sense your guide threw me off a bit :)

0 upvotes
jean miele
By jean miele (Dec 9, 2011)

Glad that helped - and sorry of it wasn't totally clear in the tutorial. Where you click really makes a difference. Photoshop geography can be pretty specific, as in this case. Clicking in the box that is the Red Channel on the right side of the Channels Panel makes that channel active and turns off the other eyeballs at the same time.

0 upvotes
Dirk Jan
By Dirk Jan (Dec 9, 2011)

Ah THAT was the reason why you didn't mention switching off the visibility. Anyway; another good thing to know, thanks. Now it all makes sense again :)

1 upvote
lumigraphics
By lumigraphics (Dec 11, 2011)

I'm 47 and would put my work up against most of those posting on this board. Photoshop is a tool, used right it can make you images sparkle. I use a similar technique and get great results.

0 upvotes
Midnighter
By Midnighter (Dec 8, 2011)

If its a 3/4 shot look at the models hands. If the model has the face of your younger sister and the hands of your grandmother you know thar be great jiggery-pokery going on. However, as some people pointed out, you have to please the client first if photography is your bread and butter. If its an art gallery that wants all the facial grit and lines it can wolf down or Mrs X paying for a sitting who wants her inner beauty revealed via a heavy hand of photo-shop tools, as a professional photographer you do it.

2 upvotes
wuviveka
By wuviveka (Dec 8, 2011)

Thanks for the tips, it's really handy ^^

0 upvotes
24Peter
By 24Peter (Dec 8, 2011)

Hmmm... I guess I'm missing something since all this does is completely overexpose the skin. I've tried two different models with the same results. I have to dial down the opacity of the red channel layer to around 25% for it to be even moderately usable. Then it just looks like a Glamour Glow filter. But beyond that, the skin issues are still visible - just lighter. Anyone else notice this?

0 upvotes
jean miele
By jean miele (Dec 8, 2011)

24Peter is definitely paying attention. I'm surprised no one else commented on the fact that the smoothing layer (Red-Channel-As-Layer layer set to Luminosity blending mode) lightens the image in addition to evening out the skin. Add a Curves adjustment layer set to darken a bit, and you can regulate the brightness it introduces. You can limit the effect of the Curve to the smoothing layer by using a Clipping Mask. (Option/alt+click on the line between the Curves adjustment layer and the smoothing layer to create the Clipping Mask.)

1 upvote
Ashley Pomeroy
By Ashley Pomeroy (Dec 8, 2011)

More to the point, the vast majority of people don't *want* their portrait to be an accurate reflection of reality. In fact most people are unhappy with the way they look. They want a photograph that makes them look pretty. And they will pay for it. As the old saying goes, professionals don't dream about their profession; they dream about Porsches.

Unless they are Porsche dealers. In which case they dream of yachts. I mean, good-looking young women with naturally flawless skin don't *have* to pay a photographer to take their portrait. Why would they?

This is where the schism between the professional and the artist opens up; these tutorial articles aren't aimed at art photographers, because art is a personal thing. They're both aspects of business, different methods of survival in a harsh world, and this is aimed at the audience that dreams of Porsches.

4 upvotes
Traciatim
By Traciatim (Dec 8, 2011)

If it's a plastic retouched fake porche, I don't want it anymore.

4 upvotes
Jared Huntr
By Jared Huntr (Dec 8, 2011)

For those that think the retouched version is 'fake', maybe it's because all the women you are used to seeing have bad skin or aren't aging very well?

1 upvote
Henrik Herranen
By Henrik Herranen (Dec 8, 2011)

Or perhaps it is that the image _is_ fake and people in real life just don't look like that? At least not where I live. A human being at the age of over 15 without laughter wrinkles around their eyes have something seriously wrong with them.

Having said this, this tutorial is well written and probably quite useful to the people it is meant for.

However, I do take exception with the very first sentences of the article: "Skin needs to be retouched. Even beautiful skin with great makeup." This generic statement just isn't true. It is only true for certain types of photography and even then only when a certain non-real result is the target.

4 upvotes
idigi
By idigi (Dec 8, 2011)

Great tutorial! Short and to the point.

Is it possible to save favorite articles to my dpreview account?

Comment edited 28 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Dec 8, 2011)

As of now, unfortunately we don't have a way for you to set articles as favorites. We do have something in the works that will allow you to 'follow' users, including authors. Stay tuned.

1 upvote
The Scurvy Dog of PR
By The Scurvy Dog of PR (Dec 8, 2011)

I agree... I need to save articles like this for future reference.

1 upvote
taojones
By taojones (Dec 9, 2011)

get a posterous account..it is free and you can gather anything on the net with it. I just did it with this article link below. Thanks Jean

http://taojonesphotographer.com/

0 upvotes
Traciatim
By Traciatim (Dec 8, 2011)

I think this should be titled "How to turn anyone in to a mannequin in 15 minutes".

6 upvotes
edfo4
By edfo4 (Dec 8, 2011)

Absoultely superb article!

0 upvotes
Dattaphoto
By Dattaphoto (Dec 8, 2011)

This form of retouching makes the skin look completely fake like a latex doll.

11 upvotes
Dan Ortego
By Dan Ortego (Dec 8, 2011)

Personally, I prefer the original which shows more definition and character.

15 upvotes
cxsparc
By cxsparc (Dec 8, 2011)

@Dan: +1

Especially since this is already a very beautiful woman. Now if there would be an inflamed spot in the face, or yellowed teeth, retouching is ok.

Still, it is up to the photographer how he will apply the techniques shown here.

0 upvotes
boarderphreak
By boarderphreak (Dec 8, 2011)

The only problem is, the retouched version looks it - and totally fake. Granted, this is just an example... But pick up any magazine these days - the pictures all look the same. Plastic. The automated retouching plug-ins are even worse. Right up there with HDR. Yeah, I went there. ;)

15 upvotes
KonstantinosK
By KonstantinosK (Dec 8, 2011)

Nice, but you can do a great retouching with NIK's Color Efex with a fraction of the effort.

0 upvotes
Dan Ortego
By Dan Ortego (Dec 8, 2011)

Mistake on my part, sorry for the double post

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 169
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