Candeo Creative : Blog

Photoshop Tip: Basics Of Fixing Skin

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Most people are familiar with the use of photoshop for things like magazine covers and personal portraits. There are a few basic tricks that can be done without much effort to get similar results. The image below is taken from Creative Commons.

before after

Before and After


The left image is a more natural and realistic look that showcases the girl’s freckles and minor details. For the sake of the tutorial we will be smoothing out certain “imperfections” to achieve an airbrushed glamour look.

To start, open your image in photoshop. Select the Healing Brush Tool to the left in the tools panel (J, or shift-J to cycle for a hot key). This tool is used to fix blemishes like scars, pimples and freckles by using the surrounding area to “heal” them.

You can also use the Spot Healing Tool, but you have less control of what area is used to fix what you’re healing.

healing brush

With the Healing Brush Tool selected, move your cursor to the part of the image you want to sample from. Hold the Alt/Option key and move your cursor to what you wish to fix. Vary your brush size (“[“ to decrease and “]” to increase) to fit the size of what you’re fixing. Try to sample from an area of similar skin tone and brightness, and have your brush set to a soft edge for seamless blending.

before after healing

Before and After Healing Brush

Subtle, but it makes a difference. Next we will use a trick to get the “airbrush” look that is so often used (and abused) for magazines.

Similar to my ”Adding Depth, Drama and Focus to Your Photos” blog , we will be duplicating the layer, blurring it and using a mask to remove the parts we don’t want, allowing the original image to show through. Go to Filter>Blur and select Surface Blur.

surface blur

Adjust the faders until the person’s skin is blurred and smooth, but not splotchy. Don’t worry about losing important details. Those will be fixed later.

layer mask

Create a Layer Mask on the duplicated layer and begin painting out the areas of the face that require detail. These are usually the eyes, nostrils, eyebrows, where the chin and neck meet, hair, drastic skin creases and anywhere that looks unnaturally smooth.

healing brush

Keep your brush opacity rather low for most areas so you aren’t taking out too much of the blurred area. You can always switch your brush back and forth between white and black to paint back in spots you took too much out of.

Here again is the end result. I left a bit of blur on some of the hair to add a slight sheen similar to that of her skin. Most of the detail was left to show through. One final note: make sure you have the blur strength of the background and the blur strength of the person set to different amounts. If they are the same it will appear that they are on the same plain, flattening your image. Now go try it yourself!

fixing skin after

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