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After removing the blemishes and softening the wrinkles in a portrait, we are going to use a great technique to just smooth the overall skin. In order to do this I could flatten all of my layers, but that would be a permanent change, so what I will do instead is I will use the Select menu to select the Entire image and then choose Edit>Copy Merged. That copy is like a flattened version of the file to the clipboard, so that when I choose Edit>Paste, I get a composite or a flattened version at the top of my layers stack.
I am going to rename this to smooth skin and tap the Enter key in order to apply that, and now I'm going to run the High Pass Filter, so I will choose Filter>Other>High Pass. Typically when I run filters, I want to do that on a Smart Object, so I would have changed this layer to a Smart Object before running the filter, because that would have given me a Smart Filter. But I actually need to invert this file when I'm finished running this filter, so I can't use a Smart Object.
When I choose High Pass, I am going to bring down the Radius to something between maybe 1 and 2.5, and you can see what I'm getting is a sharpening effect. This is actually the exact opposite of what I want, and that's why I am going to need to invert the layer in just a moment. So we will select the amount that we want, click OK and then I'm going to change the layer's blend mode, because right now it almost looks like we've got a solarized image, but you can see that Photoshop has found all of the edges and it's increased the contrast.
I want to remove that gray however, so choosing the Overlay Blend mode will remove that. Let's zoom in by using Cmd+1 to view our image at a 100%. You can see the before and after, so this is without the layer, the skin is much softer, with the layer, we've really over sharpened the skin. That's why we need to invert it. So I will select Image and then Adjustments and then Invert. Now instead of sharpening the layer, it's smoothing the layer, but it's smoothing the entire layer and I only want to smooth the skin.
So I'm going to add a layer mask, but when I click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, I'm going to hold down the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on Windows, and that will add a mask that is filled with black. So we are hiding the contents of this smooth skin layer. So right now toggling the Eye icon on and off won't change anything, because the mask is hiding it. But what this allows me to do is grab my Paintbrush, so I will tap the B key and let's make sure that we've got a soft edge brush, so we want the Hardness to be set to 0, and I will select a little bit larger of a brush, maybe around 34, 35 pixels and I'm going to bring the Opacity of the brush down to like maybe 20% or so.
What I want to do is I want to paint multiple strokes with white in my mask, so let's also make sure that my foreground color is white. If it's not, you can tap the D key to get your default colors, which will be a white foreground color, and now we can simply paint multiple strokes over the area in the skin that we want to be sharp. I will use the spacebar in order to reposition the portrait and then keep painting.
The reason that I have set my Opacity for the brush down so low is because I want to make sure that it takes multiple paint strokes in order to paint in the smooth softening, that way I won't get any abrupt edges where you can see where the softening or the smoothing layer is applied and where it's not. We also want to make sure that we don't go over areas that we don't want to be smooth. So for example, I don't want to paint over the eye area or the eyebrow area here.
I might want to get a little smaller of a brush though and just kind of smooth in this area around the eye. And of course, if you wanted to, I mean we could take this up to a higher percent, I just tap the 6 key, so now I'm painting at 60% in the areas that I know that I really want to smooth out the skin. All right, again, we probably don't want to soften the nostrils there, but I do want to soften the lines here underneath, and around the nose and around the lips, and of course, if you do go too far, you can always tap the X key.
The X key will exchange your foreground and background colors and that way you could paint out this layer wherever you have over-painted it. So for example, if you paint into the hair accidentally, you could just tap the X key and exchange those and paint it out. And then don't forget you want to use the Eye icon, you want to toggle on and off that icon to make sure that you didn't go too far. We will use the Spacebar again to move around in the image.
Make sure we didn't forget any areas here. We'll do a little bit more on the cheek. And again, just toggle on and off the Eye there to make sure that we're softening just the skin area and not the eye area or the eyebrow area or any of the little hairs. So I can go ahead and soften in here, but I don't want to go up into the individual hair area. All right, and when you're finished, if you have found that you have softened it a little bit too much, don't forget, we can always change the opacity of this layer and bring that down a bit, to maybe bring back a little bit of the detail in the skin.
You want to make sure that you use the Eye icon just to make sure that you're not over retouching, you still want some texture in the skin, but this is a nice way to just quickly smooth the majority of small little imperfections.
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