Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Prior to Lightroom, most of our retouching took place in Photoshop. Well, now we're starting to do much more of our retouching from right inside of Lightroom, and we're doing that because of the new Adjustment Brush. So let's take a look at how we can start to soften skin inside of Lightroom. I'll go ahead and press the K key in order to activate the Adjustment Brush and then I'm going to go to this 1:1 zoom here in order to zoom in on the face. Now one of the things that I could do is I could start to paint in softness on the face, yet there is a problem.
We can notice that there are some small little skin variations and whenever you're softening skin, you always have to say to yourself, "clean up first, enhance second." Now we already know how to clean up. We can do that by pressing the Q key or by selecting this tool here, which is called the Spot Removal tool. And first what we need to do is we need to go through our photograph and we need to click on these little areas that we want to retouch. When I do that, you can see that it's sampling an area and it's successfully removing all of these small, little skin variations.
And so again, while we want to smooth the skin out with the Adjustment Brush eventually, we have to start out with this particular tool here. If you're not familiar with this tool, I recommend you watch the movie where we cover this so that you can have even better skin softening as you're working inside of Lightroom. All right, I'm going to go ahead and just finish this off here and just make a few little adjustments in regards to how this image works and a couple of these little skin variations, because again, we want to start with something nice and simple. A lot of times what you want to do is you want to have your brush size or your tool size in this case to be about the size of the blemish.
So it's going to be pretty small. All right, well, let's take a look at the before-and-after in regards to how we've done this. What we do here is we can go ahead and press the H key to hide all of these little circles. Then we can click on this toggle switch. Here's our before. Here's our after. Let's zoom in even further and look at our before and then after. So that's a kind of clean up work you want to do first. Next, go to the Adjustment Brush. Press the K key to select this tool or click on it in the tool strip.
Now here again, we need to reset our effect. So hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC, and then click on Reset. That will take all of these effects back to 0. What we need to do in this particular case is select a brush with a lot of feather. We typically want a little bit of a smaller brush depending on our zoom rate and then a Flow amount where it's somewhere less than 100. We want to be able to build this up as we go. Now, I've zoomed in a little bit too close. So I'm going to go back to the 1:1 zoom here, and in this case, this brush size is about appropriate.
Next, I'm going to go ahead and decrease my Clarity and my Sharpness 100 points. Now as I start to do this, the adjustment won't look good. Yet, stick with me and see how we can progress through this. So I'm going to go ahead and start to make my way through the photograph. You can see I'm painting back and forth across these areas that I want to soften up a little bit, and as I do this, I'm slowly building this up. Most importantly, what I'm interested in doing is trying to have consistency across these different areas as I'm building this up.
So one of the things that you notice, as I mentioned, is that this looks absolutely horrible. Well, let's zoom in. Well, currently we can see I've smoothed this out so much it doesn't look good at all. Well, why is that? Well, a couple of reasons. For starters, we have -100 Clarity and Sharpness, but even more importantly, we have Auto Mask turned on. Whenever you're doing skin smoothing, what you have to do is turn this off. Let's go ahead and start over. So I'll zoom out a little bit, and what I'm going to do is I'm going to click on this Edit pin and then press the Delete key to remove that.
What we want to do now is go ahead and add some Clarity and also negative Sharpness. But what you need to do here is you want your negative Sharpness to be much more subtle than your Clarity. You can get away with more negative Clarity and a little bit less in regards to Sharpness. You also want to try to use nice sweeping brushstroke movements. In other words, think back to painting or shading or drawing or any of those kind of techniques. We want to keep this really nice and smooth and subtle. What I'm going to do here is I'm going to do a little bit more softening than I would be comfortable with.
But again, I'm going to do that so that you can see how this particular technique actually works. All right, well, let's zoom in. Press 2:1, and then let's flip on this toggle switch. Here's our before and then our after. Pretty subtle adjustments here. I'll decrease the Clarity even further so that you can see this more. Again, here's our before and then our after. Now another thing that we can do as we start to remove this Clarity is we can, of course, do this in a really low amount, meaning -100.
Then once we've done that, bring back a little bit more detail as we go. All right, well, I'm going to try to find the sweet spot here in regards to the Sharpness and Clarity. I'll click on the switch. Here's my before and then after. I'll zoom out to this 1:1 view, and now press the Backslash key. Here's our overall before and then the overall after. Now the one thing that I want to point out here is that when you're working on smoothing skin, you want your work to be really subtle. So what that may mean is that you're not really seeing it in this movie because the movie is compressed, and it's a little bit smaller.
But what you want it to do is to look good to your eye, to your own taste, and in particular, to your own photographs so that it looks really natural. Now just to exaggerate this a touch further just so I can convince you that there is actually skin smoothing happening, I'm going to make skin smoothing that's way too strong here. So I'm going to go ahead and increase my Flow and I have -100 Clarity. I'm going to go to deeper negative Sharpening. And again, I'm aware that I'm going over the top, but I just want to convince you that you can go further if you so desire and also show you something that's a little bit stronger in regards to the before-and-after.
So in this case, when I click on the toggle switch, here's my before and then my after. Now of course, this is way exaggerated. But keep in mind, even with this high of an exaggeration, you can, of course, dial this back, and you can find a really nice meeting point here for your softness. Now that one before and after I think would actually work. All right, final word here is what you want to do is, of course, look at your image in this 1:1 view. Then finally step back. Look all the way back and say, "have I improved the overall image?" Not just the skin, but does the image overall look better? In other words, am I drawing too much attention to my retouching? And that's what happens to us a lot.
We retouch and people notice the retouching rather than the photograph. So we want to step back, take a look at the image. Zoom back in, take a look at the image. Look at our overall before and then after and then ask yourself the tough question, "does this image look better?" If the answer is yes, commit to it, stick with it and continue to work on other aspects of the photograph.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
180 Video lessons · 70402 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 92149 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 60363 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 29006 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.