The Basics of Touching Up Images with Skin in Photoshop

In this tutorial I will show you how to perform a basic skin retouch to clean up and visually enhance your image.

Before and after

1.Open your selected image in Photoshop, duplicate the layer by right clicking on the original image, select > duplicate layer > ok.

(When retouching skin never work on the original image because if you mess up and need to bring back original skin texture you will not be able to)

Step 1

2. Once you have duplicated your layer, your first step is to remove all blemishes or anything you feel is distracting to your image, for this you can use the Healing Brush tool, or the Spot Healing Brush. I prefer to use the Healing Brush as it gives you more control over what you are replacing. Zoom in to around 100% - 200% so you can see exactly what it is you are trying to remove. The healing brush works by using original skin to replace the blemishes, hold down the alt key and select an area of skin near to the blemish you want to eliminate and then click over the blemish to remove it. As you use this tool you will get used to it, if you freely play around with the Healing Brush you will quickly become accustom to it.

Step 2  Step 3

3. Now you have eliminated all the blemishes you can use the Clone Stamp tool to smooth out the skin and get rid of any uneven skin tones. Set the Clone Stamp at a low opacity around 10% - 20%, you will need to alt click similar skin tones and areas of skin each time you paint over an area with the Clone Stamp. This tool is also good for painting under the eyes to remove bags and dark patches. After you have done this you may want to lower the opacity of the whole image if you feel you have gone a little overboard. I lowered mine to 90% just to bring back some of the original texture so the skin didn’t look to overdone.

Step 4

Step 5

4. The next step is to select the sponge tool and in saturate mode set on a low flow, paint over the eyes and lips to add a little more vibrancy and bring out the colours.

5. One of the main areas of your image is the eyes, you can use a combination of the dodge and burn tools to make them pop and help them to stand out, these tools are also great for fixing any make up problems as well.

Step 6

6. The final step of a basic skin retouch is to use the dodge and burn tools to add highlights, midtones and shadows to your image. These tools are really what will give your image the finishing touch. Use the dodge tool to add highlights and midtones to the cheek bone and give it definition. Think about where the light would naturally fall and don’t go overboard with these tools. If you set the tool at a low exposure you can build up gradually to your desired effect.

Step 7

7. Lastly you should add a curves layer to brighten your image and make any colour alterations you want.

Step 8

Your final images should look something like this and remember you can always tone down the effects of your post processing or bring back more of the original skin texture by lowering the opacity of your duplicate layer.

Final Image

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