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Quick technique for smoothing skin and pores

From: Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

Video: Quick technique for smoothing skin and pores

Another common thing that people like to do, when they're retouching portraits especially, is to smooth the skin, so not just removing blemishes but actually smoothing out the texture of the skin and removing or reducing the contrast of pores and so forth. So let's zoom up to 100% and kind of see what were talking about in this example image. We'll do Command+1 or Control+1 to take us to 100%. And I can hold down the Spacebar to get my Hand tool and just kind of pan this down a little bit so you can see what I'm talking about. So in addition to the acne that we want to retouch out, you can see there's a general texture to the skin that we may want to smooth out.

Quick technique for smoothing skin and pores

Another common thing that people like to do, when they're retouching portraits especially, is to smooth the skin, so not just removing blemishes but actually smoothing out the texture of the skin and removing or reducing the contrast of pores and so forth. So let's zoom up to 100% and kind of see what were talking about in this example image. We'll do Command+1 or Control+1 to take us to 100%. And I can hold down the Spacebar to get my Hand tool and just kind of pan this down a little bit so you can see what I'm talking about. So in addition to the acne that we want to retouch out, you can see there's a general texture to the skin that we may want to smooth out.

Now rather than retouching every single pore using the Spot Healing brush or the Clone tool - that would be a lot of work - I'm going to teach you a really quick technique to generally smooth out that surface of the skin and then bring back detail where you don't want the smoothing to occur. All right. Let's begin by putting this in the fullscreen mode. I'll press the letter F to do that. It just gives me a little bit more viewing area of the image itself. And to begin this technique, we're going to go ahead and do something that seems the opposite of what our goal is. We're actually going to sharpen the image using an additional layer, and then we're going to invert that sharpening, and you'll see the intended result here.

Let's begin by duplicating this original layer. So, we can do that by doing Command+J or Ctrl+J to jump a copy of this layer. We'll see it becomes layer one in the Layers panel. We'll undo that. If you're not a keyboard shortcut junkie, you can drag the layer the one to duplicate down to the new icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and that's the exact same thing. One little nuance, though. Instead of getting it layer 1, you end up with background copy as the layer name. I'm going to go and double-click and change that name and just call this Soften Skin, so I know what that layer's going to be later on.

Okay, so this technique is to use a filter. We'll go to the Filter menu and down to Other, at the very bottom of the list almost, and choose High Pass. And High Pass is a filter that's very, very useful. It's an actual edge-detection filter, and what that does is it finds edges and boosts their contrast. We're going to use a pretty low radius, a radius of 1.5 for this skin-softening technique. You'll probably use a range somewhere between 1 and 2.5, depending on the level of detail in your image, but for this image, 1.5 works great. Go ahead and click okay. Now, this image doesn't look all that great.

It's turned everything into gray. What we want to do is use a layer blending mode that basically makes all those gray pixels go away. So we're going to change the blend mode in the Layers panel from Normal to Overlay. Overlay is one of the blend modes that ignores gray pixels. So all the gray stuff goes away, leaving just that darkening and lightening pixels of that particular layer. Here's before. We'll turn that visibility off and you can see there's where we started. If I turn it back on, you'll see that the problem that we're trying to fix actually got worse.

We increased the contrast of details like the blemishes and the pores. So we want to do is reverse the sharpening and turn it into a softening effect. And you might have already guessed. We can do that simply by inverting to this layer. There's a keyboard shortcut for that as well. It's Command+I or Ctrl+I or under Image > Adjustments > Invert. Command+I or Ctrl+I. So now, what we've done is taken the opposite of the sharpening and turned it into a smoothing or softening layer, thus the name Soften Skin.

But of course, it's softening areas that we don't want softened, like the lips, especially the eyes, and of course, the hair detail, as well. If we turn that layer off, you can see the hair is now sharp again. The eyes are sharp. When we turn that back on, everything's being softened. So as you might expect, when you don't want something to occur in a particular area of an image, you need to add a mask. So at the bottom of the Layers panel, we've got the Soften Skin layer chosen. We'll add a layer mask to that layer. That adds a layer mask filled with white, so currently, that reveals everything about this layer.

What we want to do is paint with black on that layer mask on the areas that we don't want softened, so I'll press the B key on my keyboard to go to the Brush tool. That brush is way too big, so I'll used my Left Bracket key on my keyboard to make it smaller. And I'm just going to paint in where I want to sharp detail to come back, so I'm just painting over this eye and over the eyelashes as well, using a nice, soft brush so I feather back into the smooth areas. Great. We'll come back and do this eye as well.

Just click and drag over that eye. I might want to bring some of the eyebrow detail back in as well. So rather than bringing that back at full force, I might change the opacity of my brush. I'll press the five on my keyboard to paint in the sharpness of the eyebrows, but just add a little bit of detailed there, so 50% opacity. I can go back in multiple strokes to build up that density, so speak. Use my Hand tool by holding down the Spacebar and panning up a little bit and we'll go back over the lips. Here, I'm going to take it back to 100% by pressing the 0 key on the keyboard, and we'll paint the lips back in and bring the sharpness there, trailing off to the outside edge.

And then I'll zoom down, Command+Minus, Ctrl+Minus, until I can see the hair. I'll hold the space bar down to pan that over to the left. And we want to paint back in all that hair detail, so to do that, we'll increase the brush size quite a bit. Use the Right Bracket key real quick. Use a big, big brush, maybe just a little bit smaller, and in big, broad strokes, we're just going to paint over that hair detail to make sure that it does not get softened. We want that to stay nice and sharp and detailed. Okay, so I think I've done a pretty good job here. Let's go ahead and back to 100% view.

Command+1 or Ctrl+1, so we can kind of see. Yes, my eyes are now sharp again. The hair detail is sharp, and you can see the layer mask here has kind of taken shape here. Everywhere you're seeing black on that layer mask, it's hiding the softening of that particular layer. Now it's just a matter of getting these blemishes to go away, and we'll do that, very quickly, by adding an additional layer. Let's switch back to our Spot healing brush tool. I can click on the little band-aid at the Tool panel or just press the J key on the keyword.

Now, I don't want to add my retouching of the blemishes to this layer. I always want that retouching to be on a separate layer if possible, so I'm going to click the New icon at the bottom of Layers panel. But if I hold down Option or Alt, that gives me the ability to name the layer as I create it. So I'm going to call it Retouch, or blemishes, or whatever you want to call it. And then very important, you want to make sure that that Sample All Layers check box is turned on so that when the Spot Healing brush starts looking for good pixels to use in a particular area, it's sourcing all the way through the layer stack to the composite of the pixels directly under the cursor.

If that's not turned on, it's only going to be sampling the particular layer that you're on. In this case, it's a blank layer. So now, I'm just going to start pressing and dragging with that Spot Healing Brush tool all the way through the smoothing skin skin layer and the original layer below and making very quick work of these blotches as well. So we'll just get rid of the acne. It doesn't take for long it to do, but I don't have to worry about all those individual pores of this original skin texture because those have already been softened with that technique I already showed you here.

Let's go ahead and very quickly paint through. This shouldn't take more than about 30 seconds to just kind of go through and get rid of all these little blemishes that are taking our attention away from her beautiful eyes here. We'll just go ahead and very quickly get rid of these highlights and some of the makeup that she used, and let's go ahead and go over the nose very quickly. It's always fun watching someone painting onscreen, right? But you can see how quick this actually goes. I can even do that little blip over on the lip there, little spot there and that's pretty much good.

Let's show you the before and after. So here's the after, of course. Let's turn off the Retouch layer. There's before, and there's after. And then if I drag through the two eyes in the Layers panel, we'll drag through both of them, you will see there is where we originally started, where I still see that skin texture pretty pronounced. And then if I drag to both eyes again, you can see I get the nice smoothing of the skin and the removal of the blemishes at the same time, while maintaining the detail of the eyes, the hair, and lips, and whatever else is important by adding that layer mask on the Soften Skin layer to make sure we retain those details.

We'll go back to Fit to Window, Command+0, Ctrl+0, and pan that over a little bit. And again, here's where we started. Click and drag through those eyes. Click and drag through the eyes again and there's where we ended up. Pretty darn cool!

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS5 Essential Training
Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

154 video lessons · 93185 viewers

Michael Ninness
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 6m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. What is Photoshop?
      2m 49s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 34s
  2. 28m 29s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      1m 54s
    2. Getting photos from a camera
      3m 39s
    3. A tour of the different workspaces in Adobe Bridge
      4m 58s
    4. Customizing how thumbnails are displayed
      3m 35s
    5. Changing obscure camera file names with the Batch Rename command
      2m 36s
    6. Adding basic metadata to every image with metadata templates
      3m 36s
    7. Creating and applying keywords to images
      4m 6s
    8. Viewing images in Full Screen Preview mode
      4m 5s
  3. 23m 4s
    1. Using Review mode to filter out rejects
      5m 27s
    2. Protecting the keepers by saving them in collections
      3m 18s
    3. Rating images
      3m 15s
    4. Using the Filter panel to view different subsets
      4m 43s
    5. Viewing final choices in a slideshow
      2m 12s
    6. Organizing groups of images into stacks
      4m 9s
  4. 30m 50s
    1. Raw vs. JPEG files
      5m 13s
    2. Why you should start in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
      5m 9s
    3. A tour of the Camera Raw user interface
      6m 44s
    4. Previewing before and after adjustments
      4m 2s
    5. Toggling onscreen Shadow/Highlight clipping warnings
      2m 37s
    6. Choosing output settings
      2m 45s
    7. Saving a copy without going to Photoshop
      4m 20s
  5. 41m 34s
    1. Eliminating red-eye with the Red Eye Removal tool
      1m 13s
    2. Improving composition with the non-destructive Crop tool
      3m 33s
    3. Correcting a rotated horizon line with the Straighten tool
      3m 5s
    4. Fixing color casts with the White Balance tool
      2m 13s
    5. Fixing blown-out highlights with Recovery
      2m 36s
    6. Revealing hidden shadow detail with Fill Light
      1m 47s
    7. Reducing distracting color noise with Noise Reduction
      5m 37s
    8. Removing color fringes with Chromatic Aberration
      2m 36s
    9. Sharpening the details
      8m 59s
    10. End to end: Taking a so-so photo and making it great
      9m 55s
  6. 39m 5s
    1. Fixing blown-out skies with the Graduated Filter tool
      4m 34s
    2. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool
      5m 41s
    3. Making local adjustments with the Adjustments Brush
      4m 28s
    4. Quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity
      4m 33s
    5. Converting to black and white
      3m 36s
    6. Editing images directly with the Targeted Adjustments tool
      4m 18s
    7. Easy sepia and split tone effects
      2m 35s
    8. Adding digital film grain texture effects
      2m 46s
    9. Adding vignettes and border effects
      2m 13s
    10. Saving variations within a single file with Snapshots
      4m 21s
  7. 15m 48s
    1. Copying settings from one file and pasting across another in Adobe Bridge
      3m 7s
    2. Processing multiple files in Camera Raw
      2m 28s
    3. Saving and using a library of Camera Raw presets
      5m 33s
    4. Using Image Processor to batch process multiple files
      4m 40s
  8. 30m 39s
    1. Opening files from Adobe Bridge
      3m 1s
    2. Opening files from Mini Bridge
      3m 28s
    3. Customizing the Mini Bridge panel
      2m 57s
    4. Changing Mini Bridge so it auto-collapses
      1m 20s
    5. The Application frame
      2m 16s
    6. The Application bar
      1m 16s
    7. Switching and saving workspaces
      4m 23s
    8. Panel management
      5m 31s
    9. Switching tools using the keyboard
      3m 18s
    10. Customizing the keyboard shortcuts
      3m 9s
  9. 16m 12s
    1. Tabbed documents
      2m 1s
    2. The Arrange Documents widget
      1m 38s
    3. How to stop Photoshop from tabbing documents
      3m 34s
    4. Pan and zoom
      5m 21s
    5. Cycling through the different screen modes
      3m 38s
  10. 36m 59s
    1. File formats
      13m 6s
    2. What resolution does your image need to be?
      10m 15s
    3. Resize vs. Resample
      9m 40s
    4. How big a print can you make with your image?
      3m 58s
  11. 42m 17s
    1. Crop options
      4m 12s
    2. Hide vs. Delete for the Crop tool
      3m 30s
    3. Bringing back hidden pixels with Reveal All
      1m 34s
    4. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      6m 1s
    5. Making the canvas bigger by a specific amount with Relative Canvas Size
      1m 39s
    6. Correcting perspective with the Crop tool
      3m 5s
    7. Straightening a crooked image
      50s
    8. Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform
      4m 12s
    9. Nondestructive transformations with Smart Objects
      4m 2s
    10. Warping images
      3m 40s
    11. Preserving the important elements with Content-Aware Scaling
      9m 32s
  12. 54m 42s
    1. The Background layer
      5m 14s
    2. Using a layer mask instead of deleting pixels
      4m 12s
    3. Loading multiple images into a single Photoshop document as layers
      1m 30s
    4. Naming, hiding, creating, and deleting layers
      4m 18s
    5. Changing the stacking order of layers
      2m 51s
    6. Selecting layers without using the Layers panel
      6m 28s
    7. Transforming layers
      7m 16s
    8. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 51s
    9. Changing the opacity of layers
      2m 57s
    10. Organizing layers into groups
      2m 55s
    11. Saving variations with layer comps
      5m 3s
    12. When to merge and rasterize layers
      5m 0s
    13. Flatten vs. Save As (a Copy)
      3m 7s
  13. 1h 4m
    1. Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
      7m 23s
    2. Transform selections
      2m 40s
    3. Quick Mask is your friend
      4m 31s
    4. Converting a selection into a layer mask
      6m 33s
    5. Using the Quick Selection tool
      3m 1s
    6. Re-selecting a previous selection
      1m 35s
    7. Improving a selection with Refine Edge
      4m 21s
    8. Touching up a layer mask with the Brush tool
      12m 7s
    9. Changing the opacity, size, and hardness of the painting tools
      2m 59s
    10. Blending images with a gradient layer mask
      4m 53s
    11. Swapping heads in a family portrait
      3m 53s
    12. Combining multiple exposures with the Blend If sliders
      6m 26s
    13. Replacing the sky in an image
      4m 19s
  14. 1h 1m
    1. Introducing adjustment layers
      7m 57s
    2. Starting with a preset
      4m 25s
    3. Improving tonal quality with Levels
      10m 28s
    4. Increasing midtone contrast with Curves
      5m 4s
    5. Removing a color cast with Auto Color
      5m 56s
    6. Changing the color temperature with Photo Filter
      2m 55s
    7. Shifting colors with Hue/Saturation
      9m 0s
    8. Making washed out colors pop with Vibrance
      2m 46s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      5m 49s
    10. Controlling which layers are affected by an Adjustment Layer
      7m 28s
  15. 11m 32s
    1. Shadow/Highlight
      9m 3s
    2. Matching color across multiple images
      2m 29s
  16. 34m 12s
    1. Removing blemishes with the Spot Healing brush
      6m 21s
    2. Quick technique for smoothing skin and pores
      8m 23s
    3. Taming flyaway hair
      4m 47s
    4. Making teeth bright and white
      1m 43s
    5. De-emphasizing wrinkles
      4m 41s
    6. Removing unwanted details with Content Aware Fill
      4m 26s
    7. Body sculpting with Liquify
      3m 51s
  17. 21m 6s
    1. Creating panoramas with Photomerge and Auto-Blend
      7m 20s
    2. Combining multiple frames of an action sequence
      8m 30s
    3. Combining group shots with Auto-Align
      5m 16s
  18. 25m 36s
    1. Overview of filters
      4m 6s
    2. Applying filters nondestructively with Smart Filters
      4m 45s
    3. Giving an image a soft glow with the Gaussian Blur filter
      4m 41s
    4. Adding noise to an image with the Add Noise filter
      3m 34s
    5. Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask
      4m 12s
    6. Giving an image more texture with the Texturizer
      1m 17s
    7. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      3m 1s
  19. 30m 44s
    1. Cycling through the blending modes
      4m 43s
    2. Three blending modes you must know
      6m 41s
    3. Adding a lens flare effect with Screen
      3m 33s
    4. Making a cast shadow more realistic with Multiply
      4m 33s
    5. Creating a diffused contrast glow effect with Overlay
      6m 2s
    6. Sharpening an image with High Pass and Overlay
      5m 12s
  20. 21m 39s
    1. Character (point) type
      8m 19s
    2. Paragraph (area) type
      4m 42s
    3. Type on a path
      2m 54s
    4. Clipping an image inside type
      2m 24s
    5. Warping type
      3m 20s
  21. 20m 35s
    1. Adding a drop shadow effect
      4m 43s
    2. Adding an outer glow effect
      3m 13s
    3. Adding a border around an image
      2m 53s
    4. Copying layer effects and applying them to other layers
      2m 3s
    5. Saving layer styles and applying them in other documents
      2m 42s
    6. How (and when) to scale layer effects
      5m 1s
  22. 16m 6s
    1. Creating PDF contact sheets
      6m 41s
    2. Exporting web photo galleries
      6m 8s
    3. Saving for the web
      3m 17s
  23. 1m 19s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 19s

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