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If an older image has some texture or looks a little pixilated and rough, it can really help to give it a little bit of a beauty retouching, especially on a person's skin. Let's begin by duplicating our original layer, using Ctrl+J or Command+J, and then we'll want to go up to our Filter menu, go to Blur, and Gaussian Blur. We want to blur this enough to really smooth out the texture. Let's get in close on our original image, Ctrl+Plus or Command+Plus, to see what we're doing here. And you can overdo the blur just a little bit.
You can take it down later. That's okay. We just want to make sure it's blurred enough to get rid of all the texture. So we will keep it right there at 9.3 and click OK. Now let's add a layer mask. Now we want to invert the layer mask from white to black using Ctrl+I or Command+I to bring out the original image again. Make sure your color is the opposite of the mask. The mask is now black, so we want our foreground to be white.
Go up and select your Brush tool. You can adjust your brush size using your open and close bracket keys, and then begin to paint in the skin, or the area you'd like to soften. You can use a bigger brush on areas that you're not worried about going over, the bigger areas of the face, the skin. Maybe a smaller brush around the eyes. I'm just going to go over here quickly here.
Let me lower my brush size using my open bracket key, right here on the eye. Then I can bring the size of my brush up, go a little quicker. This is a technique that some retouchers will use in beauty photography, just to smooth the skin, and why not use it on older photos too? As long as it's subtle and all the character shines through, we are just trying to soften things a little bit, not get rid of the texture completely, because that is part of the character of the older photos.
We are almost through here. I want to get the entire face, so you can get a really good idea what I'm trying to do here. Of course, if I were doing this regularly, I'd go ahead and do all of the skin, the neck, but I'm just going to do this part right now. Let's go back up to Blur, Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, just to soften the mask and bring your blur down.
We are just trying to soften the edges. So somewhere around 3.5 is fine. Click OK. And now we're going to lower the Opacity, because again we want to bring that texture out. We want to see it. We don't want it to go away completely. Somewhere around 50% is good. Then let's look at the before and the after, and it just softened things up and gave the skin of the face a much nicer look.
If you like a little more texture coming through, that's fine. I wouldn't take it up any more, much more pass 50%, because then it starts looking fake. You want to keep your natural look. So let's zoom out here, do another quick before-and-after just to see the difference, and it is quite a difference. Whether from paper texture, pixilation, or simply age, photos oftentimes take on a rough appearance. When lessening the roughness, add an extra bit of smoothness to skin to finish off a beautiful restoration.
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