Thursday, January 24, 2013

Photoshop Tutorial - Simple, Fast, and Effective Skin Smoothening

If you read my article on Photoshopping and whether it is "cheating" or not, you might remember my conclusion: It is not about making someone looking something they're not. It's about making them look better. The reason being, our eyes often don't notice at all (or tend to overlook) certain details a camera can capture. As a result, an image without any post-processing can look excessively harsh.

Today I will show you an incredibly simple, fast, and effective way to smoothen skin. Again, it is not about making someone look like something they are not. Photoshop cannot make someone who is 80 years old to look like 30. Not even plastic surgeons can do that.

Very quick digression for a funny - and 100% true - dialogue:
In a studio in Rome, Italy, a well-dressed middle-aged lady is having a chat with the photographer, who tells her:
- "Maa'm, we can take very beautiful photos of you. We can make you look like a model"
- "Oh! Can you make me look like Angelina Jolie?"
And the photographer, with the bluntness only someone from southern Europe can have:
- "Maa'm, it's Photoshop, not CSI, we can't perform miracles here!"

And so, we might not be able (or willing) to make an 80-year old look like a 30-year old, but today I will show you how to make this charming old lady look even more charming:

Notice the subtlety of the smoothening. Once again, less is more in these procedures. You really must not overdo it, it has to look natural.

  1. Open your Image. Duplicate the Layer (CTRL+J)
  2. Select a brush of the appropriate size (on cheeks and other larger areas it can be bit large, on finer detail - like over the lips or around the eyes it can be smaller). Hardness at 0%. Opacity 50% (but feel free to experiment with less; I don't recommend more). You can use airbrush qualities, with 50% flow rate. The blending mode of the brush must be set to "Lighten"
  3. Use the eyedropper tool and select a skin area very close to the place you plan to smoothen. Then, on the duplicate layer you just created, start 'painting' over areas with blemishes, wrinkles, etc. Remember: less is more, there is no point removing all wrinkles, it looks unnatural. Simply soften them a bit.
  4. Continue like that, changing color (with the eyedropper tool) according to the surrounding area.

BONUS TIP: On this specific image there are no areas with washed-out highlights, but if there are on your image, you can also cover them a bit as well, using another layer, following the exact same procedure, with only difference being that the brush has to be set in blending mode "Darken".

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