Free Photo Retouch: Correcting skin defects in Photoshop
Version: Adobe Photoshop 7.0, CS, CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5
Correcting skin defects in Photoshop
are a few spots and wrinkles visible in this picture. Would
you kindly remove these skin defects?"
It is not a critical step, but first we selected the problematic
skin areas. The Elliptical Marquee Tool (press M)
is perfect for this job. Keep Shift pressed
while drawing circles around all the spots and other defects,
and you'll be ready in a couple of minutes.
You may want to blur the selection edges slightly so that
the changes fit better to the unchanged image areas. To
do so, we right-clicked one of the selected areas, selected
the Feather command and specified a value
of 2 pixels on the dialog which was displayed.
You can also hide selection borders if they interfere with
your work by pressing Ctrl+H.
the actual removal, we used the Spot Healing Brush
(press J). This is a healing brush which, when configured
properly, takes a sample from the surroundings of the painted
area and fills it using this sample. In this case, it clones
smooth skin surface over a spot—if you're lucky.
At the top of the window, we set a brush size of 10
pixels. You should use a relatively small brush
so that fine skin structures work better. To set size, click
the button next to Brush on the options
bar. Diameter sets the size, while Hardness
controls how blurred the brush edges are. Use a soft brush
at a setting of 0% or something close.
Under Type on the options bar, make sure
Proximity Match is selected.
All that remains is to paint over the selected areas. As
you release the mouse button, the grey painted areas are
filled with smooth skin surface. If you're unsatisfied with
the result, paint again. Go through the selected problematic
areas one by one.
also found annoying the hair parts falling into the face.
The twin of Spot Healing Brush, called
Healing Brush (press J) was used for removal.
This is another clone brush that fills the painted areas
with samples taken from other picture parts, but it is not
automatic—you have to specify the sample source location
by Alt+left clicking. For hair removal,
we took a sample from a nearby "parallel" skin
area and painted over the hair with tiny brush strokes.
As you release the mouse button, the painted area gets a
color and brightness matching its surroundings, with the
texture of the sampled part. When dealing with individual
hairs, you should take samples from several different locations
and work carefully. For more details about using Healing
Brush, see this
article. This is how we removed the smaller wrinkles,
too. We used a size 14 brush with soft edges and the above
We also used the Healing Brush to remove
the dark rings under the eyes. We sampled the skin surface
under the eye sockets and painted larger areas at once.
The Healing Brush can be used to adjust
an unruly eyebrow, uneven facial features, or smaller misplaced
It is also useful to slightly lighten the eyeball, shadowed
by eyelashes, but only in the shadowed parts. We used this
procedure for the task. Our goal was a slight retouch,
not producing a cover for Cosmopolitan. The face has to
retain its original features, so take care with lightening.
There's no need for a very strong intervention, just some
enhancement which goes by unnoticed by the viewer.
Bring the mouse pointer over the picture to compare the
result to the original.
Although Sophie asked us to remove the wrinkles, we left
some of them. The mimic wrinkles around the mouth relate
strongly to facial character and the natural feel of the
smile. Removing them would be too much, and if, on top of
it all, you smooth out these areas, the chin bone becomes
too emphatic. The overly smoothed skin also makes the face
rounder. To avoid this, you should make the chin bone narrower,
which is way beyond slight enhancements as it alters the
shape of the face. We wanted to preserve the original facial
character under all circumstances.
Next time we deal with reader requests, it'll be time to
do something to that chin .
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Photo Retouch Tutorials