Retouch the face in Photoshop

Despite the fact that the concept of "photoshop" is sometimes used with a touch of negative meaning (unnatural, artificial, embellished, strained, etc.), face retouch remains one of the most popular topics related to image processing.

Many programs are involved in the art of computer make-up, but the "Photoshop" image editor has perhaps the most extensive arsenal of retouching tools that not only can correct skin flaws with a few clicks, but also turn a not very attractive person into a handsome man (which many do Glossy magazines).

It will be both an amateur level of correction of photos using destructive tools or methods, as well as a professional technique when the face retouching in Photoshop is performed filigree - absolutely without disturbing the structure of the layers and, accordingly, the texture and texture of the skin.

How can I correct a person's shortcomings with the help of Photoshop's retouching tools?

The tools that are used for photo retouching are intended primarily to eliminate all kinds of defects and artifacts. If it comes to the skin, it can be moles, acne, wrinkles, scars, swelling under the eyes, bright glare or sharp shadows, pores, pimples and other troubles. Let's give a brief information about how to do the following tools, performing face skin retouching .

  • The tool "Stamp" (ClonestampTool). Clones the skin with a fragment of the sample that is selected on the face by clicking with the left mouse button together with the Alt key, carefully following the cross, which moves in parallel along with the main cursor, showing where the sample is taken from at the moment.
  • The "pattern stamp" does not clone, but draws with textures, and if you add the desired texture to the standard set, the stamp will draw it, but it will not retouch, but rather a virtual "skin transplant".
  • PatchTool also knows how to clone, but not in a point pattern, but in whole areas that move to the right places where they take root. Depending on the settings, either the content of the selected area is moved to the desired location (the "Destination" mode), or an empty selection is dragged to the desired content location (Source mode).
  • SpotHealingBrush requires the user to just set the appropriate size before simply clicking on the unwanted speck of any origin, so this tool is simply indispensable when you need to make a detailed face retouching in Photoshop.

  • The healing brush (HealingBrush) works in a manner similar to that of the stamp, only here the cloning takes into account the color and texture of the retouched area, and the user is allowed to adjust the brush parameters independently, including not only the size, but also the shape, stiffness, angle, And pressing the pen.

All the listed tools are used only to eliminate the main skin problems, and for glamor frills commands from the "Filter" menu, clarification / darkening tools, variations of the "Fill" command and some other tools are used.

Consider how to do face retouching in Photoshop, using only the functions of darkening and brightening.

"Curves": retouched with corrective layers

This method is used by professionals and its essence consists in correcting (aligning) the skin tone on the auxiliary layers by darkening the highlighting (protruding) on the middle tone background of the light areas and lightening the dark areas (shadows).

To do this, you need to create two adjustment layers above the background layer with the face image to be retouched - Curves. One of them will be a brightening - symmetrically convex curve to the level of the maximum light side of the skin of the face, and the second - a darkening, that is, a symmetrically concave curve to the level of the darkest part of the skin of the face, and the masks of both correction layers must be converted (Ctrl + I).

Now it is desirable to discolor the image, because in the black and white version of the facial retouch it is easier to perform, since all irregularities and roughness are more contrast. To do this, create an auxiliary new layer, fill it with black and change the blending mode to "Color", or even better, if we make a copy of this layer and set the blending mode (overlay) "Soft Light" (Soft Light), decreasing the Need opacity.

Next, go to the mask of the clarifying correction layer (or at first dim - there is no difference), take a soft brush (the first color is necessarily white) with an opacity of no more than 10%, set the required size (the smaller, the better) and, greatly enlarging the image, Patiently lighten the darkened areas around the unwanted skin relief.

Then go to the mask of the darkening layer and with the same perseverance cope with light areas of the skin, periodically overlapping black and white layers to control the result on a color image. The work is scrupulous, but the result is worth it.

Retouch with lightening or darkening tools

This method of non-destructive correction of photos called Dodge-Burn is often resorted to when you need to do some work using Photoshop. Retouching the face (in Russian, the name of the method sounds like "Dodge-Burn") is performed precisely with its help.

In essence, the method is similar to the previous one using Curves, but here only one layer is used for clarification and darkening, which is created above the photo layer and filled with a neutral color of 50% gray (Edit → Fill), changing the blending mode to "Soft Light".

Then you can safely retouch the skin on this auxiliary layer, aligning its texture with the tools "Dodge Tool" and "Burn", or using a soft brush (white for lightening and black for darkening), selecting the necessary opacity .

Retouch: the tools of the "Filter" group

For a relatively fast and effective result of glamorous photo processing in Photoshop, blur and noise reduction functions are most often used, almost every photo editor uses analogues. The facial retouch performed by such methods rarely meets the professional level, because blurring, one way or another, leads to a violation of the texture of the skin, the degree of which depends on the art of the virtual make-up artist.

In fact, the method consists in "smoothing out" irregularities and smoothing the skin tone. Below are the options for such processing.

Smooth the skin with the help of the "Noise" tool

First of all, on the duplicate of the layer of our photo, we need to select the skin of the face using a suitable selection tool, including the "Pen" and the mask, or, on the contrary, remove "soft" (about 50%) "Eraser" from everything around the skin, Including eyes, eyebrows and lips.

Having finished the selection (or separation) of the skin area, go to the "Filter" menu and select either "Retouch", where you will have to repeat the effect several times (Ctrl + F) or "Median", in which the radius is selected experimentally for a specific image. If the face becomes too artificial, then you can add a little "Noise" to it and then blur it "according to Gauss", but still you will not be able to avoid significant loss of skin texture, which is the main drawback of this method.

Retouching a person using a "blur"

This retouching is generally similar to the previous one, only in this case the corrected image of the face (or the selected area of the skin) is conditionally divided into two layers (duplicates of the image or selection): on one of which the skin is smoothed, leveling the tone and softening the contrast, and on the other Above the first) - restore the texture.

The tasks of the smoothing layer are solved (with the visibility of the other) with the command "Surface blur" with a radius of about 7 px and a threshold / isogel within 10-11 levels, or "Gaussian Blur" in the "Filter" menu.

If after applying the effect on the "smoothed" layer there are undesirable elements, they can be gently brushed with a soft brush, choosing the right color on the face with the mouse at the desired point together with the Alt key.

To the layer (the second copy of the image or selection) that is responsible for the texture, that is, for the restoration (return) of the details lost during blurring, the noise suppression plugin Noise Ninja justifies itself, but you can also use the "Reduce Noise" filter from the "Noise" group by tuning The necessary parameters of the effect in the main, and if necessary, then in the additional mode, having worked there with the most problematic channel.

Getting rid of unnecessary noise, the texture can be shown, slightly reducing the contrast and working with the settings of the filter "Contour Sharpen" (Unsharp Mask).

Now, in order to complete the face retouching, it only remains to combine the contents of both layers into a single whole, for which, having risen on the texture layer, go to "Filter" → "Other" and select "High pass" with a small (no more than 8 ) Radius, so that only the contours of the facial elements remain.

Then go to "Hue / Saturation", which is in the menu "Image" → "Correction" and completely remove the saturation (-100). Finally, by replacing the blending mode with "Overlay" on this layer, we will return the lost texture to the skin, which if necessary can be strengthened by slightly increasing the brightness.

In addition to the main graphic editor, donated to the world of Adobe, today the Internet has many other programs, including those specializing in virtual make-up, each of which is a full-fledged photo editor. Retouching faces in them is performed almost automatically.

Plug-ins for retouching in Photoshop

One of the most powerful and popular among the "photoshop" plug-ins for photo retouching, including facial treatment2, is the plug-in Nik Color Efex Pro Complete 3.0, which contains more than fifty filters and about 250 effects.

Efforts of these filters are aimed at improving the photos in general and adding artistic effects, but "glamorous issues" are solved by such plug-ins as Dynamic Skin Softener, Glamor Glow and Tonal Contrast and some others.

Popular among users and the plug-in ArcSoft Portrait + RePack / Portable. He, in fact, is a photo editor, retouching the face in which it is possible to do in a matter of seconds. The program automatically evaluates the skin condition of the face and corrects the image in 17 parameters, after which it is already difficult to find fault with anything. The plug-in skillfully copes with skin imperfections, preserving its texture and not affecting the basic elements of the face.


Today, in order to give the person a natural attraction without the hassle, one does not need to understand the subtleties of art retouching, and even to establish special programs. Many online resources, for example, or offer to completely retouch photos, including makeup.

They will help to achieve such visual effects as smoothing and removing wrinkles, ridding the skin of dermatological defects, removing the effect of red eyes, removing fatty gloss, and evening the skin, adding a glamor effect. Among other things, such programs are able to stylize the image using dozens of ways.

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