Retouching Portraiture – Beginning Basics & Tools

Retouching Portraiture – Beginning Basics & Tools

Well-lit, even skin tones are what can make portraiture really stand out against the competition. A huge part of that is lighting but even the best lit subjects will still have skin blemishes or marks on their face and neck. Photoshop offers some really easy and effective tools on removing blemishes but the three main ones I use are the spot-healing brush tool, the patch tool, and the clone stamp tool. Usually for me, it’s a mixture of all three of these tools combined to get achieving even skin. Always remember to make a new layer of your original image before beginning the retouching process, that way if you mess up you aren’t ruining your original image. I’m not into the porcelain doll skin look, so usually once I get skin looking clear, almost unnaturally clear, I blend my retouched layer into the original image layer by lowering the opacity of the retouched layer.

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First I start off with the spot heeling brush, as it’s the easiest to use. The brush is a circle that allows you to click right on the blemish and “remove it” — essentially the tool uses the skin tones around the blemish to hide it. Make sure you adjust the size of the brush to be the same size as the blemish or you’ll start running into issues.

When there’s an area that’s too big for the spot heeling brush, I then turn to the patch tool – which allows you to select and area and copy over the texture from another area – i.e. you select the area you want changed and then drag it over to an area that’s the texture you want it to be. This tool works really well with minimizing wrinkles. Just make sure you have made a new layer of the image first. You can think drag an area around the wrinkle, drag the area over to let’s say the forehead and BAM – wrinkles no more! This is the quick and “dirty” way of removing wrinkles and I’m not one to totally remove them. So what I do next is once I have the wrinkles removed I then lower the opacity of the top layer so that it blends in to the original. That way the wrinkles are still there they are just less pronounced.

The clone stamp tool is one of the more tricker tools so I only suggest using it sparingly. I use the clone stamp tool for things such as prominent tan lines or tattoo removal on models. The tool does pretty much what it says, it stamps cloned image sections on to new sections. You hold down option (mac) to select the section that you want to clone, a little crosshair brush will appear, and then you can take that and stamp it onto the next section. Be mindful that if you move the brush to a new area, the cloned stamp section also moves with you. It’s always good to clone a new section before moving onto a new area.

These are just a few of the tools I use to retouch, and there’s way more to the retouching process than just the skin – teeth and eye whitening are also big areas that I hit when retouching which I will go over in my next post. Until then gang!

Erin Eppenbaugh
Erin Eppenbaugh
erin@kreativelement.com
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