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PS Skin Retouching Tutorial

Updated on January 29, 2011

PS Skin Retouching Tutorial

We are all looking fora PS Skin Retouching Tutorial, a best solution so farfor a photo portrait skin perfection.That’s what I have been doing for the previous weeks and months. Luckily, I think I’ve just made it.

If you have read dozens of PS tutorial books or PS Recouching Tutorial videos on Youtube, or google webpages for PS tricks for skin retouching, you would be very familiar with some common, or the elementary methods of skin retouching in PS. They’re everywhere on the web, but not so satisfactory. They either make the skin lose detail, or make it look unreal. Big problem. Is there a PS Skin Retouching Tutorial that can make a perfect and natural skin?Yes. Here we go.

First stop

Clone stamp tool (S key) and Spot healing brush tool (J key)

Hey! They can just do the step one, get rid of the blemishes and other flaws. Be careful using them! If you overuse them, or  use them  without enough flexibility, the fixed spot will look fake. Remember, the spot healing brush tool can be only used on small blemishes, you should always use [ and ] key on the keyboard to decrease and increase the size of the brush. The size should be just cover the blemish, a little bigger than the blemish.


Check the Proximity match and Sample all layers.

Every time you fix a single spot , remember to see if it looks right overall. If not, and you make no mistake, just leave it to the clone stamp tool.

Clone stamp tool is for fixing the bigger spot. Remember, use lower opacity of the tool, like 20%, no hardness, hold ALT key to sample the adjacent spot, the very adjacent place where the skin looks nice. As carefullly as you can, fix the bigger spot. Job done! Move to the next level.


Beginners’ Level:

Applying Blur filter(Gaussian blur, surface blur)

Some experienced so-called PSer would teach you a good method by applying blur filters, whether gaussian or surface blur. I trusted them and tried. For some 30% of the time, it’s gonna work well. Still , it’s not what I have expected. What I want is not just a newbie’s level, the retouching is supposed to let people feel MAGICAL, which is also the core spirit of PS, the soul. So just forget about the blur filters.


Medium Level:

Faking the Skin (Rebuild/Forge the skin tones)

When I was lost in finding a better way of PS Skin Retouching, really confused, looking everywhere on the internet, I came across a way of Faking the Skin. Haven’t heard before? It means making a completely skin texture without having to consider the original skin texture. How?

Of course, we apply this method only if the skin of the portrait looks terrible.

First, using applying the blur filter to get rid of the blemishes. When it’s done, the bad stuff is gone but the fake and vague part is left. Yes, we lost details of the original skin texture.

Next, we rebuild the skin.

1.       Create a new layer

2.       Apply ADD NOISE filter. Remember to check Gaussian and Monochromatic on. Gaussian means the way of blurring the noise. Monochromatic means just converting the noise into   black and white mode.The amount should depend, 1% to 5%, just check which looks better.

3.          Is that done? End of the skin retouching work? No! The forged skin tones look fake because they look flat, not 3-dimensional. We’ve gotta fix them. Go to Filter menu, click Stylize and then Emboss. The Emboss filter can make the noise, the forged skin tones look more realistic. The parameters you just decide on your own. Job Done! You graduated from the Medium Level of PS Skin Retouching Tutorial.  

About rebuilding the skin tones, I didn’t talk much because that’s not the point of this tutorial. You can google it on the web, where there’re tons of free tutorials about that.

I saw many commercial fashion portraits applying this kinda technique, Jesus! Sometimes you might think the rebuilt part, I mean the forged skin tones, look like a thick cosmetic powder, other than a perfect and natural skin tones. That’s why I gave it up. If you really wanna do a magical PS Retouching work, just follow me.

OK, now, let’s move to the final level.

ps skin retouching Tutorial__channels
ps skin retouching Tutorial__channels

Advanced Level:

Applying Channels

Theory comes first:

We all know that pictures are made from three basic colors, RGB, Red Green and Blue. Photoshop makes it available for us to use besides Layers Panel. If you click on the Channels, you’ll see four layers named RGB, Red, Green and Blue.

They are all monochromatic. The three channels altogether make the RGB pictures with millions of different colors as you see. Theoretically, Red allows more light to come in, then comes Green, Blue has the least light.Let’s see an original portrait. 

ps skin retouching Tutorial__original
ps skin retouching Tutorial__original
ps skin retouching tutorial_red channel
ps skin retouching tutorial_red channel
ps skin retouching tutorial_green channel
ps skin retouching tutorial_green channel
ps skin retouching tutorial_blue channel
ps skin retouching tutorial_blue channel

What do you think of the three channels?

Red looks good, good skin tone, but too bright, losing much detail.

Green looks better, good skin tone, although not as good as the red channel. Not too bright, just good. Detail is good. Excellent.

Blue looks terrible. Too much detail, I mean the detail has been greatly exaggerated. It looks like he has been sunburnt. Forget about Blue channel.

Under this circumstances, I decide to use Red channel and Green Channel compoundedly.

Let’s zoom in to see the skin tone differences of the channels.


ps skin retouching tutorial_RGB skin
ps skin retouching tutorial_RGB skin
ps skin retouching tutorial_red skin
ps skin retouching tutorial_red skin
ps skin retouching tutorial_green skin
ps skin retouching tutorial_green skin
ps skin retouching tutorial_blue skin
ps skin retouching tutorial_blue skin

The Blue looks worst, the Red looks best, the Green looks good and natural.

We’ll pick the Red and Green channels. For most of the time, we’ll prefer these two channels.

Why? What is the best skin? Of which the best skin tones. What are the best skin tones? Ones look tiny and clean. That’s it. They should look smooth and continuous.


By applying channels to make a perfect and natural skin is by far the most advanced tecknique as I know, but it’s troublesome, complicated, always took too much time, until I found a great filter called Portraiture 2.0. It applies exactly the same technique, but it could make it within seconds. Really good filter, my favorite filter retouching skin.

You can download a free trial version at

This is not an ad for this filter. O(∩_∩)O~

When you open this filter, it automatically applies normal smoothing preset by default. There are other presets also available. But I just prefer the normal smoothing. I don’t wanna overdo it.

There are also skin tones mask and enhancements options, I usually turn them off. I don’t want a software help me with these. I don’t believe they can handle all of them well. I just need them to do the channel stuff for me.

Press ok and the filter will create a new layer applying the channel technique.

See the great difference:


ps skin retouching tutorial_before
ps skin retouching tutorial_before
ps skin retouching tutorial_after
ps skin retouching tutorial_after

We don’t apply any blur filter, or any curve corrections. One step, with Portraiture filter, done!

The man’s bad skin tones now look like a girl’s. We didn’t rebuild anything. But we did omit something, the blue channels.

End of the tutorial. Have a nice time.Leave a comment if you have any question.



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    • profile image

      Aromatika 5 years ago

      There is an easy-to-use tool which removes unwanted objects imperfections from your photos

      Photo Retoucher can be downloaded at

    • dsmythe profile image

      dsmythe 7 years ago

      The clone stamp tool is your friend.

    • wARtist profile image

      wARtist 7 years ago from China

      To sukamal

      I have given you the official website of portraiture already above.

    • profile image

      sukamal 7 years ago

      thanks all of you.

      but i can,t found portraiture filter.may you help me?

    • profile image

      banny 7 years ago

      LOL!!! nice one

    • tinaweha profile image

      Tina Boomerina 7 years ago from Seattle (and the world)

      Boy, do I need this. I'm going through your tutorial as soon as I can. Thanks.

    • false_alarm profile image

      false_alarm 7 years ago from

      nice tutorial. I would try it sometime.


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