Photoshop Retouching: Simulating Beautiful Skin

The camera does not love everyone's face but bad skin is nothing that cannot be fixed with some Photoshop retouching. You can smooth over any blemish using one of the many tools that will help. But before delving into every imperfection, take a step back and look at the more general problems.

Step 1: Making a Person Look Healthy

Skin comes in many shades and hues. Cameras do not always compliment the skin tone being captured. The important point to identify is whether the person looks healthy. Some people are too pale, some have a little too much red in their skin, and some reflect a sickly yellow. First, play with the saturation in the image drop down. Whether adding color, or subtracting, always start here and find a balance that will make the person vibrant yet natural. Remember to keep an eye on the background and other elements to make sure they do not go out of control as you adjust. If the color balance is still off, then move on to the color controls in the image drop down. You may have to go back and forth a few times, but you will find it.  In all likelihood, you have already made a vast improvement.

Step 2: Big Concentrated Blemishes

If your subject has an unflattering zit, then pull out your stamp tool.  Find an area of skin that looks to be about the same quality as the area where the zit is (if there were no zit). Alt + click on the area with the desired look.  Then, hover the cursor over the zit, click and hold while dragging to cover the whole thing. Remember, do not do this for a huge area or it will become obvious that you are stealing skin from a different part of the face. Contour and shadowing will give this away if you go too far. Since this is a cheat, use the heal tool, the icon that looks like a bandage, with the same commands as the stamp tool to smooth over your patch and make your work more seamless.

Step 3: Minor Blemishes Dispersed over Large Areas

It is time to soften up all those tiny imperfections that have become so obvious with the extreme resolution craze. Turn to your blur tool with the tear drop icon. You can adjust the size of the brush you use with a drop down.  Also adjust the amount you are zoomed into your photo. Use your judgement to determine how to best serve this image. If you are zoomed in all the way, then you will distinctly notice the difference between the areas you have blurred and those that you have not. You should not see it when you zoom back out to normal, but either way, the final step should alleviate your concerns.

Step 4: Diffusion

In Photoshop, it is called blur and there are about 10 different choices in the filter drop down.  They are all slightly different, so pick one that you like, and apply it to your photo. Some blurs will interfere with your contrast, so you may need to make an adjustment from the image drop down, but in the end, your subject should look glamorous.

Every photo could use a touch up and you should not be afraid to try it. It is easy, and generally satisfying to improve upon your work.

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