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High-pass skin softening

From: Photoshop for Photographers: Portrait Retouching

Video: High-pass skin softening

Another way that you can soften and smooth the skin of your portraits is by working with the High Pass filter, in combination with a blending mode, and also a mask. Typically, what we do is we use the High Pass filter to sharpen, yet what we're going to do here is kind of flip-flop the way that this filter works, so that we can also use it for really effective and great skin softening. Well, first what I want to do is I want to zoom in on this image to 100%, so that we can see the detail, and the texture that we have to work with.

High-pass skin softening

Another way that you can soften and smooth the skin of your portraits is by working with the High Pass filter, in combination with a blending mode, and also a mask. Typically, what we do is we use the High Pass filter to sharpen, yet what we're going to do here is kind of flip-flop the way that this filter works, so that we can also use it for really effective and great skin softening. Well, first what I want to do is I want to zoom in on this image to 100%, so that we can see the detail, and the texture that we have to work with.

To do that, we'll double-click the Zoom tool, then press the Spacebar key to click, and pan around. What I'm noticing with this photograph is that, because we have this interesting light here, there are areas that are going to need to be softened more than others. You can see, like, this area here, this texture; it'd be nice to soften it, as well as some of these other bright areas in our picture. Well let's explore how we can do that with this technique. First copy the background layer by pressing Command+J on a Mac, or Control+J on Windows. Let's name this new layer high pass / soft light, because Soft Light, that blending mode is the one that typically works best with this technique.

Next we'll navigate to the Filter pulldown menu, we'll go down to Other, and then we'll select High Pass. Once we go to this High Pass filter, we're going to see this really strange gray view of our photograph. Yet, what we're looking for here in this view is to see texture. If you click and drag this up too much, you are going to all of a sudden start to see the image, and that's not going to work. If you have your Radius too low, you're going to barely see any texture at all. So you want to bring this up until you see the kind of texture that you think you might want to remove.

With this picture, it looks like about 1.2 might work well here. I am just clicking and panning around the photograph to look at the different areas of the texture. I think that looks pretty good. Next click OK. Now, whenever you're applying this High Pass filter effect, what you need to do next is desaturate this layer. A quick way to do that is to press Command+U if you're on a Mac, or Control+U on Windows to open up the Hue/Saturation dialog. So go ahead and press Command+U or Control+U. The reason why this is essential is that there's a lot of color in this layer, even though you can't see it.

If I increase the Saturation, and exaggerate that, you can really see how all that color is there; it's kind of buried though. So what we need to do is to desaturate, 100 points. We need to make this completely grayscale; black and white. After having done that, we click OK. So far, to reiterate the steps we've taken, we copied the layer, we applied the High Pass filter, then we desaturated by pressing Command+U or Control+U to open up the Hue/Saturation dialog, and then we removed all the color from that layer.

The next step is to change the blending mode. We have three blending modes which will work well; Overlay, Soft Light, or Hard Light. Let's start off with Soft Light. Now, when we apply this blending mode in this layer, what we'll see is that it's actually sharpening the photograph. It's adding more texture or detail to the picture. If we choose a blending mode, say, like Overlay, we are going to see even more texture or detail show up. Take a look at this area here as I click on the eye icon; the before, and the after. Well, we don't want to sharpen our image, we want to soften it, so in order to soften it, all that you need to do is to invert the layer.

To do that, press Command+I on a Mac, or Control+I on Windows. Here we can now see the softening effect, and we can then go back to one of our other blending modes as well to see how that might look. I think Soft Light will work best. After we've done that, we then need to create a mask, and we want to create a mask which is filled with black. To do that, hold down the Option key on a Mac, or Alt key on Windows, then click on the Add layer mask icon. So again, these last few steps, what we did was we took this layer, and changed the blending mode.

Then we inverted the actual High Pass filter. We press Command+I on our layer to do that, then hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, add that layer mask, so we have the mask filled with black, concealing all of the softening effect. After we've done that, we simply need to select our Brush tool by pressing the B key, or clicking on that. We want to paint with white, and we can paint with a pretty high Opacity here; pretty close to 100. Next we'll go ahead and just start to paint over the area that we want to soften.

This type of a softening technique is really easy, once you get the hang of how you can create those different layers, and oftentimes, the results: they are stunning. So here I am just painting over these different areas. And the risk is, is that with movies like this, that once they become compressed, it's kind of hard to see these subtle details, but on my monitor, this is looking amazing. And you know, you want your skin softening to be really subtle. You don't want to have this overdone skin softness, otherwise, the photograph just won't look good.

The eye doesn't trust it. We know when we've seen pictures that are over-retouched, or over-softened; it just isn't very appealing. So in this picture, I am just painting around into these different areas where I need the softening most. You know, we don't always need it everywhere. So we'll go ahead and just paint around the picture here, being careful to maintain detail in some of the important areas of the photograph, like the eyes, the eyelashes, and whatnot. Next, after we've painted through this, what we'll want to do is we will want to use that Masks panel in order to soften out the edge of our brush strokes.

So I think I've done enough of that painting there. Let's double-click the mask, and then increase the Feather, just to soften all of our brush strokes. And then, of course, we want to click on and off the eye icon to see that before and after. To really show this, I need to zoom in way past 100%. Here, I'm zooming way into this textured area here. As we get really close, and as I click on and off this eye icon, what I am hoping that you can see is, in this area, that before we had a lot of contrast, so we had these little specular spots, and also these dark shadows, and now the after is showing how we can diminish that.

Well, by using this technique, what you can do is you can apply some really nice skin softening. And, you know, the trick with skin softening is that there isn't one technique that always works best. Rather, it's good to know a few different techniques that you can use, so that you can then select the technique which will work best for your particular picture.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop for Photographers: Portrait Retouching
Photoshop for Photographers: Portrait Retouching

85 video lessons · 24122 viewers

Chris Orwig
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 58s
    1. Welcome
      1m 4s
    2. Using the exercise files
      54s
  2. 6m 49s
    1. Initial retouching considerations
      3m 51s
    2. Using a Wacom tablet
      1m 8s
    3. Exploring resources and finding inspiration
      1m 50s
  3. 37m 21s
    1. Where to begin?
      1m 19s
    2. Reviewing the basic cleanup tools
      3m 59s
    3. Removing small distractions
      2m 41s
    4. Using selections and cloning to remove distractions
      4m 26s
    5. Simplifying the background with the Clone tool
      5m 12s
    6. Removing a garment strap
      5m 17s
    7. Removing a distracting logo
      3m 43s
    8. Removing lint from a T-shirt
      3m 40s
    9. Cleaning up a backdrop with Content-Aware Fill
      2m 58s
    10. Cleaning up a backdrop with the Patch tool
      4m 6s
  4. 22m 31s
    1. Extending a real-world scene, part 1
      4m 6s
    2. Extending a real-world scene, part 2
      4m 20s
    3. Removing distractions for a creative effect
      4m 31s
    4. Using selections and Free Transform to rebuild image elements
      3m 44s
    5. Moving a person with Content-Aware Move
      5m 50s
  5. 28m 48s
    1. Removing small details from the face
      4m 50s
    2. Retouching skin
      4m 35s
    3. Reducing hotspots, part 1
      4m 32s
    4. Reducing hotspots, part 2
      4m 36s
    5. Reducing brightness with selections and curves
      3m 26s
    6. Using Hue/Saturation to minimize variations in skin color
      3m 45s
    7. Removing tan lines
      1m 53s
    8. Leaving imperfections in portraits
      1m 11s
  6. 37m 15s
    1. Correcting tone with curves and masking
      5m 39s
    2. Fixing exposure and color with curves
      4m 14s
    3. Correcting tone with blending modes and masking
      5m 22s
    4. Using Shadows/Highlights to improve exposure
      5m 28s
    5. Using Soft Light layer blending to burn and dodge
      4m 37s
    6. Exploring the burning-and-dodging workflow
      6m 35s
    7. Using multiple techniques to improve shadows and highlights
      5m 20s
  7. 22m 42s
    1. Reducing wrinkles with the Healing Brush
      7m 21s
    2. Working on wrinkles and details
      6m 51s
    3. Fine-tuning and making final adjustments on wrinkles
      3m 44s
    4. Quick wrinkle reduction with the Patch tool
      4m 46s
  8. 43m 27s
    1. Enhancing eyes with adjustment layers and blending
      4m 7s
    2. Adding sparkle to the eyes
      4m 38s
    3. Increasing color with Colorize and blending modes
      5m 37s
    4. Rebuilding the edge of the eye
      6m 34s
    5. Whitening eyes, part 1
      3m 54s
    6. Whitening eyes, part 2
      5m 42s
    7. Removing eye veins and sharpening eyes behind glasses
      7m 8s
    8. Correcting color and tone behind glasses
      5m 47s
  9. 11m 26s
    1. Trimming eyebrows
      5m 25s
    2. Darkening eyebrows
      2m 48s
    3. Adding mascara to darken eyelashes
      3m 13s
  10. 16m 47s
    1. Enhancing lip color and tone with curves and masking
      4m 23s
    2. Using Color Balance and blending modes to improve the look of lips
      7m 41s
    3. Improving the look of lips with the Burn and Dodge tools
      4m 43s
  11. 13m 49s
    1. Teeth whitening made easy
      2m 33s
    2. Exploring advanced teeth whitening
      5m 0s
    3. Automating teeth whitening with actions
      5m 9s
    4. A note on retouching facial features
      1m 7s
  12. 35m 22s
    1. Covering and correcting hair discoloration
      5m 48s
    2. Fixing the color of hair roots
      3m 3s
    3. Making creative color adjustments to hair
      2m 44s
    4. Patching a gap in hair
      4m 27s
    5. Removing flyaway hairs
      6m 18s
    6. Fixing flyaway hairs with a complicated background
      5m 57s
    7. Adding accents and creative color to a fashion photograph
      7m 5s
  13. 27m 22s
    1. Brightening shadow areas on the face
      4m 22s
    2. Adding color to the cheeks and eyelids
      4m 30s
    3. Modifying eye makeup color
      3m 52s
    4. Increasing color saturation and variety
      4m 17s
    5. Enhancing color with the Lab Color space
      5m 44s
    6. Using Selective Color to create vibrant color
      3m 29s
    7. Additional makeup resources
      1m 8s
  14. 23m 15s
    1. High-pass skin softening
      6m 48s
    2. Creating a mask for the skin
      4m 23s
    3. Softening and adding even texture to the skin
      5m 36s
    4. Adding a soft glow to the skin and details
      6m 28s
  15. 34m 36s
    1. Adding dimension using curves and masking
      3m 50s
    2. Reshaping a jawline with Liquify
      4m 30s
    3. Reshaping a shirt with Liquify
      3m 13s
    4. Reshaping a shoulder with Liquify
      3m 22s
    5. Reshaping the body with Liquify
      2m 35s
    6. Using the Warp tool to reshape a jawline
      3m 33s
    7. Modifying the body with the Warp tool
      3m 35s
    8. Changing shape with selections and masking
      8m 32s
    9. Tips for thoughtful portrait retouching
      1m 26s
  16. 36s
    1. Goodbye
      36s

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