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In Photoshop CS5 Essential Training, author Michael Ninness demonstrates how to produce the highest quality images with fantastic detail in the shortest amount of time, using a combination of Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, and Camera Raw. This course shows the most efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, Michael shares the secrets of non-destructive editing, utilizing and mastering Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more. Exercise files are included with the course.
Okay I am super excited, I get to show you one of my favorite techniques for doing a quick portrait retouch in Camera Raw and it involves using something called the Adjustment Brush. Now typically when you're doing a Portrait retouch, you want to add some contrast and focus on the eyes and draw people into that most important part of the subject matter there, and then you often want to smooth out or lessen the contrast of the skin texture. So I'm going to teach you a technique that lets you do that using the Adjustment Brush tool. I'm going to click on the Adjustment Brush tool. It's up here. Looks like a little Brush Icon, I can press the letter K as well.
And what I want to do is use the Clarity slider. And before I began, I want to make sure all my particular attributes are zeroed out. If they're not you can double-click on the slider to take it back to zero. So if I slide this over and double -click, it takes it back to zero. The only attribute that I'm going to use here is Clarity, and Clarity is a mid-tone Contrast adjustment. It's going to leave the extreme black alone and the extreme white alone and just increase the contrast in the mid-tone areas. A positive Clarity is going to give me an increased contrast. So I'm going to take it up to 50, to start out with, and the good news here is it doesn't actually matter.
You just need to have a number to start with, because you can always change it after the fact. All right, so I've set my Clarity at 50. I'm going to go ahead and start just painting over clicking and dragging over the eye to kind of paint in some Contrast adjustment. Now I'll do it over the second eye as well and maybe I'll come over the eyebrows a little bit to Increase the contrast of those. It may not look like much has changed but let's actually toggle the Preview on and off. I'll press the letter P and you see there's before, press the letter P again, and there is after, and you can see I'm really making some nice contrast there along the eyes.
Now what I want to do is the opposite of that. I want to decrease the contrast of the skin texture and do an overall smoothing of that. Well it turns out that if you use a negative Clarity value, you get the opposite of a Sharpening effect. You actually get a Smoothing effect. It's a very clever little technique here. So I'm going to create a new brush. I don't want to modify the existing brush. That's just for the eyes. If I hover over the Pin it actually shows me the highlighted area, shows me where the effect has been applied to. I'm going to click the New button over here in the Adjustment Brush and this time I'm going to use a negative Clarity, I'm going to drag that down to say -50.
Again, is a starting point. Maybe I'll increase the Brush Size, I can either use my Right or Left Bracket keys to change the Size of the brush or I can use the sliders here on the right. It's up to you. Maybe start with a much larger brush and I really take that Feather down now, just so that I don't do a lot of spell into the areas that I've already modified. I'll take the size down just a little bit more, maybe size 10, great. So now I'm going to start painting with this negative Clarity over the Skin detail and again, it's a very subtle effect. You want to go ahead and start out small.
You can always modify it later. If I'm going to be painting in this region, I might lower the size of the brush temporarily, so I'll use my Left Bracket key to make the brush smaller, kind of come in here and avoid the edges there of the nose, just really kind of come in and decide where I want the smoothing to take place. Kind of come over here as well on this right side of the cheek here and of course, do the forehead as well and maybe at the chin a little bit. You know you just need to decide where you want the smoothing to occur, this side of the nose, just touch. Great.
Don't want to over do it, we don't want to make her look like she's porcelain and I will go ahead and modify that a little bit, after the fact once we're done. And let's do the forehead a little bit, we'll make the brush little bit larger using my right bracket key, then I'll come in here and smooth out the forehead just a touch. All right now, let's see the before and after. Okay, let's turn the preview off. There is before, there is after. If those Pins are getting in the way, let's turn off the Show Pins and I can press the letter V for that. So without the distracting Pins, here is before, and there is after.
And you can see I've gotten a nice smoothing around the skin, but a nice Contrast enhancement around the eyes. Now if we feel that we've actually made the skin too smooth, fake and porcelain like, well here's the great part. Let's turn those Pins back on. Let's make sure that the skin Pin is selected, which it is. I hover that, I can see where it's being painted and I can just take that Clarity value and slide it back towards more positive numbers. So if I take that up to 30, you can see I'm bringing some of that skin texture back. So you've total flexibility here.
Again, if the retouch needs to get more complex than this, then that's when you want to probably take over to Photoshop, but if you just trying to work out quickly, maybe just show some quick comps to a client here and prove on the image just slightly, this is the great technique to get the job done really fast.
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