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How To Touch Up Faces and Skin with Photoshop - InfoBarrel
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How To Touch Up Faces and Skin with Photoshop

By Edited Feb 20, 2016 0 0

In this tutorial I will guide you through the process of touching up faces and skin in Photoshop. Everyone has a picture or two where they or a loved one has had a bad acne day or whose skin just didn't come out right under the light. Touching up the picture properly can turn a good photograph into a great one.

Things You Will Need

Photoshop (I use CS4 but any version should do fine)

Step 1

Acne-Kim (22468)

Identifying the Problems

The first step when touching up a photo is to identify which elements of the photo you want to correct. This is meant as a starting point to plan your strategy for tackling the photo. Later on, you can always reevaluate the photo and decide if other elements need correcting.

Acne-Kim (22468)


I've chosen a particularly unflattering picture of Kim Kardashian (courtesy of the kind folks of www.CelebAcne.com) to illustrate this tutorial. We can see that she has an acne breakout on the right side of the image as well as uneven skin coloration throughout. Additionally her eyes lack any detail and her lips are missing out a bit of color. Her hair could also use a bit of work but for this guide we will ignore it.

Step 2

Kim Patched

The Patch Tool

The Patch tool is a powerful tool that lets you blend the pixels from area onto the pixels of another area. What this means for us is that we can use Kim's lighter colored skin to blur over the acne spots and other dark skins spots, without the sharp lines that would result from a copy/paste attempt or simple use of the Clone Stamp tool. The Patch tool is excellent for removing small spots or wrinkles.

You can access the Patch tool by locating it on your tool palette, which located on the left side of the screen (default settings). Alternatively, you can select it by pressing "J". Once you have the Patch tool selected, simply draw a circle around an area you want to correct (an acne spot). Make sure to keep the selection small; you don't want to alter more pixels than you have to. Once you have the spot selected, move your cursor to the center of the selection and hold down with the left mouse button to drag the selection to the area you want to mimic. In our case, we would want to choose a flat area of skin nearby that is lighter in complexion. Once you have the area targeted, simply release the mouse button to let the Patch happen. You may want to deselect (ctrl+d) to better view the results. If you are not happy with the result you can simply undo and select an area of skin that is a better match.

Use the Patch tool on any acne spots or deep discoloration that you see.

Step 3

Kim No Lipstick

Improving the Skin Tone

Now that we've gotten rid of the immediate problem of the unappealing acne spots, we can get to work on improving Kim's skin tone.

Make a copy of the current layer and select it. Give it a High Pass filter (under Filters>Others>High Pass) with a radius of 3 pixels. Change the layer to Soft Overlay and Invert it (under Image>Adjustments>Invert). At this point the image should become soft and slightly blurry. If the image is too blurry, lower the opacity of the High Pass level. You should also erase the eyes from the High Pass level as well as anything else you want to retain detail on .

You should now have a very nice soft image. However some areas of the face are still a bit bumpy. Use the Blur tool on a very low opacity to brush over the neck area and the forehead to soften these areas a bit more. You should also look to see if any more work needs to be done with the Patch tool.

We now want to apply a Color Balance Adjustment layer to add a bit of vibrancy to the photo. Either find the icon by the layers area or navigate manually (Layers>New Adjustment Layer> Color Balance). Play around carefully with the colors (only a few points in either direction) until you find something you like. I've tilted the photo in favor of red, magenta, and yellow.

At this point you can call it a day and leave with a nicely touched up photo or if you want to go the extra mile, you can proceed on to the last step.

Step 4

Kim Final (22738)

Eyes and Lips

Lips

The lips are currently a bit dull and could use some livening up. Take a small paintbrush with a very low opacity setting (around 5%-10%) and select a bright red. Set the brush to Color and carefully paint over Kim's lips. Make sure to do this in one pass so as not to get stuck with multiple layers of paint. If it looks wrong pick a different shade of red or adjust the opacity settings on the brush.

Eyes

Kim's eyes are currently in a sorry state. They are just a dark mass with no discernible detail. To fix this we're going to have to make use of Curves and the Dodge tool. But first we have to select the eyes. Using the Pen tool, carefully select the eyes but take care not to include any of the whites or any part of her skin. Once we have only the iris and the pupil within selected, we're going to open the Curves dialog. To access Curves press Ctrl+M, or select it from the menu (Image>Adjustments>Curves). The Curves dialog lets us manipulate the colors in a photo as well as giving us control over whether we want to affect Shadows, Highlights, or Midtones. For our purposes we only need a rough color change. We can see from the original photo that Kim's eyes are brownish. We want to keep them brown but make them more noticeable and striking. On the Curves dialog we're going to change the channel to Red. Then we want to increase the level of Red in the eyes by dragging the diagonal line upwards. It isn't vitally important where you drag the line up from but try not to drag from the very top or bottom - anywhere in the middle should be safe. After we've injected a little bit of Red into the eyes, we're going to change the channel to Green and then to Blue and repeat the process in both of them, except this time instead of increasing the color level, we want to decrease the level of Green and Blue, so we're going to drag the diagonal line slightly downwards. What we're aiming for with these changes is to make the eyes a lighter shade of brown and thus more visible. You may have to go back to each channel and slightly adjust it several times until you find the color that you are happy with.

Even once we have the proper color we're not finished with the eyes. As a result of playing with the Curves the pupils of the eyes have become less prominent. To correct this we're going to select a small round paint brush (for this picture we'll probably need a 5 pixel brush) and choose a very dark black. Make sure that the brush is set to Normal (as we set the brush to Color to paint over the lips). Locate the pupils and position the brush over them. The brush should cover the majority of the pupil and you only have to click to apply a layer of black over them. You may have to click several times to give the proper coating.

We now want to give the eyes a reflection of light. Selecting a very small paintbrush (I used a 2 pixel brush), we want to paint a tiny white dot in the bottom left corner of each eye. Make sure that the white dot is not too large or attracts too much attention. You may need to choose a slightly grayish color instead of pure white to lessen the effect.

For our final touches on the eye we're going to use the Dodge tool to lighten it up. You'll want it set to Midtones and with an exposure of about 10% but you may have to switch to Shadows or Highlights now and then. Of course, feel free to play around with these settings to get the effect you want. With a small brush carefully run the Dodge tool over the irises of the eye (the colored part) to brighten them up a bit. Once you have the desired color repeat this procedure on the whites of the eyes to make them clearer and stand out.

Congratulations! You've now succeeded in turning a bad photo of an acne-covered Kim into a very nice Kim with beautiful skin.


Kim Final (22738)
Everyone's tastes are different. While this level of touching-up is what I find to be attractive, others may think that the image still requires alteration or that it shouldn't have been altered this much. Choose the level that suits your tastes and feel free to cut out any part of this process, tone it down or add on to it.

I hope you've learned something from this guide!

Tips & Warnings

Photoshop requires a great deal of patience. While sometimes you'll be able to do exactly what you want to do with no problems, other times you may have to repeat a step dozens of times before getting it to work properly. The important thing is to stick to it and improvise if needs be. Sometimes just taking a break and returning to the image later can help you out tremendously.


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