Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Natural wrinkle reduction, part of Photo Tools Weekly.
- Hey, welcome to another episode of Photo Tools Weekly. Thanks for joining me. The topic that I'll be covering in this week's episode came to me by way of a suggestion from Evan all the way in Poland. So thanks Evan. Evan wrote me a note and basically said, "Hey, I wanna know how to reduce or remove wrinkles "naturally and effectively." And we're gonna talk about how we can do just that with a tried and true technique, which involves using the Clone Stamp tool in a way that I imagine you've never used it before.
And this is one of those techniques that once you learn it, you're gonna use it all the time. Alright, are you ready? Let's begin. Before we actually start reducing or removing wrinkles, what I wanna do is demonstrate the technique so that you actually know the how and the why. So you can really see how this works and why we use this particular method. In order to do that, we're not gonna work on the photograph first, but I am gonna work on this demo layer. Here, I wanna zoom in on that. And I wanna do this just to illustrate how this particular technique works.
Let me first talk about what I have here. You can see I have a gradient up top. It goes from black all the way over to white. Down below, I have a grey which matches right about here in the middle. You can see it's just a solid band of grey. The reason I have that there is so that we can talk about different ways to use the Clone Stamp tool. Now, for starters, I'll go ahead and select the Clone Stamp tool. You can see I've added some notes for us, normal, dark, and then lighten. If we use a blending mode of normal, and if I hold down the Option kinemac, Alt on Windows, and click to set a source area on the grey down below and bring it up top, what happens is is you're gonna bring it over exactly as it is.
So it's a one-to-one match. There it is, you can see it's the same color the entire way. It just looks different because it's surrounded by different things. But here's where things get interesting. If we change our blending mode, say, to darken, and if I do the same exact thing just underneath it, so right here where it says darken, and if I go ahead and paint across this area, nothing happens at all until we get to the brighter side of the grey scale. Okay, whoa, what's happening there? Well, the darken blending mode, what it does is, it says, "Hey, if there's anything that is brighter "than the area that I sampled, we'll darken it up." In this case, this stuff was all darker, so there's no effect right here.
It's only affecting the brighter pixels on this particular layer. Now, as you had imagined, if we go to a blending mode like lighten, and do the same exact thing again, you know, set our source area, and just click and paint, what we've got says, "Hey, if there's anything "that isn't this bright, brighten it up." And then as I go over here, nothing happens. So what we're starting to see is that we can use the Clone Stamp tool in a unique way by changing its blending mode. Now you may be thinking, "Okay Chris, I still don't get it." Well just stick with me for a couple more minutes here.
The next thing I wanna highlight to is I'm just gonna do that for a moment, is that we have to do this on a layer. If I go up to a blank layer, right here, I'm just on an empty layer. And I'm retouching to all layers. So I'm doing retouching here. And I take my Clone Stamp tool on lighten, sample, and then paint across the image, you can see that the blending mode didn't transfer. It didn't work. So this doesn't work unless you're on an actual pixel layer. Okay, that's the introduction, that's the setup.
Let's see how this bad boy technique actually works. This is a picture of my mom from a couple of years ago when my parents were celebrating their anniversary. So she was all dressed up to go out to dinner, and I captured this portrait. And with this image, what I wanna do is first copy the background layer. Remember, we need to be on a pixel layer, and I'm gonna go ahead and name this one Retouch or Wrinkle Removal or whatever. And my mom always says, "Oh, Christoper, "can you remove my wrinkles?" And so, here we go, Mom. We'll remove or reduce those just a little bit.
We'll grab the Clone Stamp tool. Now with the Clone Stamp tool, what we don't wanna do is darken things unnecessarily. What we wanna do is lighten them or brighten them. We wanna lighten or brighten these little wrinkles that we're seeing right here. So the way that we can do that, again, Clone Stamp tool, blending mode on lighten. Make sure we're on a pixel layer, not a blank layer. Then, typically you wanna bring your opacity down significantly, probably below 50%. I'll try 20% approximately. Next, make the brush a little smaller.
Also, I should point out brush. Let's remove the hardness. Nice and teeny brush so we can get in there. Then I'm gonna Option or Alt click on an area of skin underneath the wrinkle and just start to paint over it. And what you'll see is that I can actually paint pretty quickly 'cause really remember, it's not gonna affect anything where the area is the same tonality as the area that I'm sampling. So I Option or Alt click, and then I paint over this. I'm just gonna go back and forth over this area a few times. Because I'm using a lower opacity here, it just gives us the ability to subtly kinda build this up.
But we can do this with other things, not just wrinkles. But it works wherever we have kind of a skin blemish or variation. Now, as you do this, you Option or Alt click and paint over it, you shouldn't feel like, "Oh my gosh, the wrinkles are instantly gone." You should almost have this sense like, "Am I really doing anything? "Does this really matter? "Is this really worth it? "Isn't there a more powerful tool that works more quickly?" Well remember when it comes to the human face, really what you wanna do is you wanna keep it subtle. You want it to look natural, and you can't obliterate the wrinkles.
If you remove them altogether, it just will look strange and kinda creepy, and it won't look very real. So what we need to do is we're looking to still have some of that character there, but what we want to try to reduce or remove some wrinkles. So let's look at the before and after just with a few of these brush strokes here. Zoom out, perhaps, so you can see a little bit better from this perspective. And look, how it's a nice natural look. We're just getting rid of some of those shadows that we found there underneath the eyes. So again, zoom in so you have a nice up close look. Here's before and after.
And the great thing too about having to work on a separate layer like we did here is that you can always duck or drop your opacity back down. So if you went a little too far or too fast, you can say, "Hey, well maybe Mom just needs "just a little bit of that." Because really, it's just the light that's trapped in the wrinkle. I still want her vibrant beautiful smile and face. I don't want someone to notice that I've reduced or removed her wrinkles. I want it to look natural, authentic, and real. And that's what we've accomplished by using this technique.
Now, this is one of those techniques that is different. It may be one you've never learned or used before. So if that's the case, go back and just re-watch this one because what you'll find is that this is valuable, not just for wrinkles, but in so many different situations. And really, it's about using the Clone Stamp tool on different blending modes in order to work on your photographs. Alright, well that wraps up this movie. If you wanna learn more about how to reduce or remove wrinkles, check out the next movie.