Help me remember my Skin Smoothing workflow?

Started May 19, 2021 | Discussions thread
Krav Maga
Krav Maga Veteran Member • Posts: 3,724
Re: Help me remember my Skin Smoothing workflow?

thxphotog wrote:

Greetings. Was an active member here for years and it got away from me so it's been a while.

I did a lot of portraits a few years ago using the same technique in PS (CS4 at the time - now I just have the latest Elements) but I just can't seem to remember my workflow, which I took from a member here.

It involved creating a couple layers, using 'darkening' on one layer, 'lightening' on the other using various degrees of Guassian Blur on both. Creating a new layer & mask that showed up maybe in the third of four layer positions, and then I would drag that layer to the bottom? combine layers? Change opacity to to reveal some of the image and 'painting' away the blur to reveal details.

So instead of painting on the blur, I preferred to paint away the blur so I would paint over eyes, hair, lips etc.

I've fumbled around trying to get that process back but it's just not coming to me.

Can anyone point me to a similar process?

Thanks much!


If you don't remember, you're unlikely going to be able to recreate it. There are nearly countless ways to retouch skin.

I'll give you a high level of what I do; it's a combination of FS and dodge and burn using Curves in Photoshop, and if done right, it won't blur the texture. Blurring texture is bad.

Copy your layer twice. Name the top one High, name the bottom one Low. Disable High. Select Low. Add Gaussian Blur to Low, but just enough to where you start losing detail. Don't over do it.

Enable High and select it. Apply image > change layer to low > Blending to Subtract > Scale 2, Offset 128. OK.

Set High to Linear Light. Everything looks normal.

Group the High and Low layers and call it Skin.

Above the group, create a curves adjustment layer and pull down the middle a bit > change the blend mode to Lumosity. Call it Burn.

Above that create another curves adjustment layer with a middle pulled up a little bit > change blend mode to Lumosity. Call it Dodge.

Group the two adjustment curve layers and call it Dodge and Burn.

Open up the group, Skin > select High, and then use the Healing Brush tool to deal with blems. Because of the way you have it set up, it will only deal with texture.

Go to your dodge and burn group, and start dodging and burning with a brush set to 1 percent flow and zero hardness and start dodging and burning.

You will have to experiment with different amounts in your curves and develop patience. About 95 percent of my whole skin retouching is dodging and burning.

Once you're finished D&B, go to your Skin group, select the low layer and your Mixer Brush Tool. Set it to a Clean Brush > toggle OFF clean the brush after each stroke > Wet 1%, Load 75%, Mix 90%, Flow 10%.

Brush lightly in areas that need to have the tones blended together. Keep in mind to go LIGHTLY. It shouldn't blur the texture at all, but it will blend the tones.

Practice, practice, practice.

I'm not sure how this all translates to Elements. It may a little, it may a lot, or it may not at all.

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Take photos that you love, and don't listen to anyone else --Peter Coulson.

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