Lightroom: How To Make Skin Appear Softened

When using Adobe Lightroom, sometimes a user doesn't want to change the look of the whole photo, but just the look of a subject's skin tone. Luckily, tools are available that allow users to do effects like make a subject's skin appear softer or even brighten the look of someone's face. Even amateur users will be able to quickly and easily adjust the look of skin using Lightroom's tools.

Step 1: Why Soften Skin Tones?

When pictures are taken, especially under bright lights or even sunlight, harsh shadows can be created that darken or even sharpen the look of skin. This includes creating deeper lines on the face, illuminating blemishes and similar issues.

Lightroom's Adjustment Brush and Graduated Filter tools, however, allow users to smooth out these unflattering problems and create pictures that look better. Plus, these effects don't need to be applied to the entire picture. Users can just select the area where they would like these effects to be added.

The Adjustment Brush allows user to practically paint fixes onto a photo, while the Graduated Filter applies adjustments across a particular section of a photo. 

Step 2: Types of Effects

There are several effects that can be added to soften the skin. These effects are:

  • Contrast - adjusts the contrasts in mid-tones
  • Clarity - increases the contrast in an area
  • Exposure - establishes how bright entire photo will be
  • Brightness - makes mid-tones brighter
  • Saturation - makes colors either more or less vibrant
  • Color - adds color to a particular area of a photo
  • Sharpness - make photos either more or less defined

The Amount Slider allows users to further manipulate these effects until they produce the desired effect.

Step 3: How to Use the Tool

  • To add either affect, simply click on either the Adjustment Brush or Gradient Filter in the Develop Module.
  • Select the Effect.
  • Adjust the Amount slider until the effect looks the way that the user wants.
  • For the Adjustment Brush, additional options like size, feather and density can be added to the brush.
  • Move the tool over to the photo, and drag in the area where the effect will be added.
  • The tools can then be refined based on the user's preferences and additional masks can be added as well.

Step 4: Experimentation Is Key

It's not easy to get these adjustments right the first time. In fact, users may have to experiment for awhile until they get the skin tone just right. Effects should be applied one at a time. That way, if it's not working, users can just edit it out of the photo.

All of these effects are done within the Develop module. In the Develop module, adjustments won't be permanently added to the photo until the user wants them to be. This means that the original photo won't be lost.

Yet, for those that are worried about any type of glitch, it might be wise to save the photo that is going to be manipulated under a different name. That way, the original is always there.