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After you retouched all of the small skin details you're now ready to begin to do some skin softening. What I want to do is share with you one of the many techniques for softening skin. And this technique involves a few steps, but I'm sure you can always watch this movie again if you don't pick up these steps on the first pass. Well, what we're actually going to do is create two different layers: one to control texture, and one to control softness. So let's copy that background layer twice. We'll do so by pressing Command+J twice on a Mac, and Ctrl+J twice on a PC.
The middle layer or that second layer there is going to be soft. Then the top layer is going to have some texture. So let's go ahead and rename both of those layers, so that one says texture, the one up top. Underneath we have some softness. Next, let's turn off the visibility of the top layer and target the soft layer. Here, we're going to navigate to Filter. We're going to choose Blur and Surface Blur. Now you may be thinking okay, Surface Blur, this isn't going to look very good. Yeah, sure it's not. Surface Blur or Gaussian Blur for that matter is pretty tricky.
It smudges things up. But what we want to do is just dial in an amount and a threshold here where we get some nice softening. We don't want to overdo it too far, but at the same time we're going to bring our texture back on another layer altogether, so we can get away with perhaps a little bit more then we're comfortable with. Here is our before and then after. For demo purposes I'm going to take this up even higher so that you can see it in this movie once it becomes compressed and a little bit smaller. All right! Well, let's click OK. Tons of softening, too much softening. That's okay.
What we're going to do next is on a Mac hold down the Option key, on a PC hold down the Alt key and then click on the Add Layer Mask icon. This will create a layer mask. It's filled with black. Limiting all the softness. So no softness right now. Next, we'll grab our Brush tool, paint with white. I want a pretty low Opacity here. And all that we're going to start to do is just barely begin to bring in the Softness. The nice thing about this is we can bring the softness in really where we need it. Some areas we don't need it as much as perhaps other areas. All right! We'll go ahead and soften things up here a little bit. Also make sure to work on this forehead.
I want to be careful of course near the eyebrows, the nose, the lips, the chin line there. And as always whenever you're making little brush strokes like these it's a good idea to go to the Masks panel and just feather these out a bit, soften them up, and here we have our before and then after. Let's zoom in a little bit so we can see how the skin is looking so far, our before, and then after. I'm just going to bring in just a touch more here just to remove these little tiny pores, and skin variations that we're seeing. All right! I think we're doing a good job.
I'll make my brush a little bit bigger and just exaggerate this a touch more so that again for the demo it works a little bit better. All right! While once we have done that the next thing we're going to do is click on this texture layer. What we're going to do on the texture layer is apply a couple of filters and then change theblending mode. Well, let's do that. We're going to go to our Filter pulldown menu, choose Other and then High Pass. High Pass is really interesting. What it can do is it can give us this little outline.
Now, if we crank this up too high we're going to see it won't work well for us. We want to just go back to where we just kind of have this little silhouette almost. In this case I think a small radius, probably just a couple of pixels or so, is going to work well. Click OK. The next thing you need to do immediately after you apply High Pass is to go to Image > Adjustments and then Desaturate. That will then remove any color from this layer. A super important step so be sure to do that. Let's zoom out a little bit so you can see how this looks a little bit more clearly.
So again you're just looking for this little bit of an outline. Next, we're going to go to our Filter pulldown menu, Noise, and we're going to add a little bit of uniform Noise here. In this case, Gaussian, Monochromatic. What you want to do is just dial in an amount where you can barely see it. It's just adding kind of this even amount across the image. Actually right about 2 looks good with this file. Now, keep in mind that the actual amounts here are going to vary based on how the image was captured and also the file resolution.
What you want to do though is look at your screen and kind of determine what looks best. In this case I think this looks really nice. We'll click OK. Well, our next step is going to be changing this to a blending mode. The blending mode that we're going to use is Soft Light. Now, the one problem with this is that this texture is everywhere, but what we really want is we only want the texture where the softening is taking place. In order to do that, we can click in this mask. We can then actually copy this mask to the top layer.
In order to do that, we'll hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC, and we'll click and drag this mask into this top layer. Now, this mask is just bringing the texture in to the correct areas. I told you there are a handful of steps here, but again we're getting close to the end of this, and if you haven't kind of knew those steps, you can always rewind this movie and watch it again. All right! Well, let's zoom in on the skin a little bit so we could see how we're doing. All right! Well, this texture layer is kind of nice. Here's the before and then the after. You can see I'm really bringing back in some nice texture.
Now what I need to do is mix these two together. In other words I need to click on my softening layer and lower the Opacity and say okay, how much softening do I want? Then click in the texture layer and then lower that as well. Try to find the sweet combination of both of these together. If we look at our before and after, here's before and then after. We have some pretty realistic and nice skin smoothing. Let me zoom in really close so that you can see how this looks in regards to the skin texture. Again, look at all the little variations we have.
This is after and then compare that to before. What I'm going to do is just click between these two. Here's before, and then here's after. A little bit more subtle and clean look. Now, of course we can dial in the texture to a greater or lesser degree if we want a perhaps a little bit less. We can also do the same with our softness. We can increase that a little bit more. Once again, let's take a look at the before and then after with a little bit stronger skin smoothing. Now, the last thing that I like to do whenever I'm smoothing skin is I like to group these two layers together.
In order to do that, hold down the Shift key and click on both layers, then press Command+G on a Mac, Ctrl+G on a PC, and that's G for group. Now, we'll go ahead and name this group smooth . That way we can turn this whole layer on and off. We can also lower the Opacity of this and just find just the right sweet spot for a particular image. So again it gives a set extra bit of level of control of really dialing in the overall skin smoothing amount.
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