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How to Photoshop Tutorial - Portrait Retouch for beginners

Updated on May 3, 2013

Portrait Retouch for Beginners

Photoshop is a sheer unlimited software, but if you are just starting out the few basic steps for a portrait retouch that I will show you in this article might be a good starting point for you.

I will show you how to remove spots on the skin, how to reduce facial wrinkles, how to whiten the teeth and how to bring some shine into your model's eyes. And the best - all this will not take you much longer than 15 minutes, once you are accustomed with the Photoshop working surface. I have prepared this tutorial for you on PS CS6, but you can do exactly the same on PS CS2.

The tutorial is directed to beginners and thus tries to cover every step from the beginning to the end. If you are interested in a bit more complex tutorial on skin structure improvement you can check out my other hub here.


Step-by-step tutorial

Skin corrections

1. Open your file and adjust other settings as usual

2. Create a new layer

Click on the symbol for new layer
Click on the symbol for new layer
Red: Your new layer Green: Make sure the box "Sample all layers" is marked Blue: Choose Spot Healing Brush Tool
Red: Your new layer Green: Make sure the box "Sample all layers" is marked Blue: Choose Spot Healing Brush Tool

3. Once you have created the new layer choose Spot Healing Brush Tool, which will help you to eradicate smaller spots on the skin. Make sure that 'Sample all layers' is activated before you start.

4. Zoom into an area you want to work on and click with your tool on the undesired spots. You can choose the size of your tool in the top left corner. Sometimes you might not be satisfied with the result in a particular spot - either first delete your last action or just simply click on the area again.

An area of the picture before...
An area of the picture before...
...and after the spot removal
...and after the spot removal
Renaming your layers will help you keep the overview!
Renaming your layers will help you keep the overview!

5. Rename the layer: Skin Spot Removal

6. Now in the next step we want to reduce the wrinkles. Again create a new layer, make sure 'Sample all layers' is activated and choose Healing Brush Tool this time. When you choose this tool make sure that the setting for it is on 'Sample: All Layers'.

Red: Create new layer Green: Rename layer, 'wrinkles' Purple: Choose Brush Healing Tool Blue: Make sure your 'Sample all layers' is activated
Red: Create new layer Green: Rename layer, 'wrinkles' Purple: Choose Brush Healing Tool Blue: Make sure your 'Sample all layers' is activated
Choose as a setting for your tool 'Sample: All Layers'
Choose as a setting for your tool 'Sample: All Layers'

7. To use the Healing Brush Tool you first hold the 'Alt' key and select a source from which Photoshop will take the information what to replace your wrinkle with. Choose a spot close to the wrinkle so that the skin tone matches, but make sure that the area you pick itself is clean and wrinkleless - otherwise you might just replace your wrinkle with another one! After picking the source you simply click on the wrinkle, keep holding your left mouse key and draw along the wrinkle. In most cases it will satisfyingly disappear. If not simply try another source spot (press 'Alt') and try again.

After removal of wrinkles...
After removal of wrinkles...
...and before. Red: To make the earlier status visible you simply click on the eye symbol of your current layer. When the eye is not shown your layer is not visible. Like this you can easily compare the before and after results of your retouch.
...and before. Red: To make the earlier status visible you simply click on the eye symbol of your current layer. When the eye is not shown your layer is not visible. Like this you can easily compare the before and after results of your retouch.

8. To avoid a too unnatural look you can reregulate the visibility of wrinkles through the opacity of the layer (in the above picture indicated by the blue arrow). Simply bring the opacity down until the result is to your liking. As you can see I haven't gone very extreme when removing the wrinkles, as I prefer my models to still look natural, even after a Photoshop retouch.

Reduce the opacity of your layer and control how strong you want your retouch
Reduce the opacity of your layer and control how strong you want your retouch

Whitening Teeth


9. In the next step we want to whiten our models teeth. As you can see she naturally has very beautiful teeth, but nevertheless they have a slightly yellowish tint to them. Thus inn nearly every portrait with a big smile it is recommended that you give the teeth a quick brush up. For that you now first deselect all layers (by just clicking under them). Then you choose the Lasso tool, or magnetic Lasso tool and draw a line around the teeth.

10. Once the area is marked as selected you go back to your layer section and click on new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation. Photoshop will now automatically create a new layer mask for you so that any changes you make will just apply to the selected area.

Red: Choose Magnetic Lasso Tool Blue: Select an area Green: Create new adjustment layer
Red: Choose Magnetic Lasso Tool Blue: Select an area Green: Create new adjustment layer
Select Hue/Saturation
Select Hue/Saturation

10. A new dialogue will open now, choose 'yellow' and decrease the Saturation value and if you like increase Lightness, too. But be careful not to go too extreme as otherwise the teeth might look grey or the outline of the layer mask will become visible.

Red: Choose yellow Green: Automatically created layer mask
Red: Choose yellow Green: Automatically created layer mask
Red: Adjust Saturation Green: Adjust Lightness Blue: Control final reslut via opacity
Red: Adjust Saturation Green: Adjust Lightness Blue: Control final reslut via opacity
After whitening...
After whitening...
...and before. The difference is small, but visible.
...and before. The difference is small, but visible.

Enhancing the eyes


11. In the same procedure as before we will now enhance the glow of the eyes. Deselect all layers and choose the Lasso or magnetic Lasso tool and draw around the pupils. Now create a new adjustment layer, again for Hue/Saturation. You can now change the 'Master' settings, or the settings for the colors closest to your model's. Increase the Saturation and even change the Hue a bit, but be careful not to go overboard and make your model look like Frankenstein!

Red: Choose magnetic Lasso Tool Blue: Mark the pupils Green: Create new adjustment layer for Hue/Saturation
Red: Choose magnetic Lasso Tool Blue: Mark the pupils Green: Create new adjustment layer for Hue/Saturation
Red:Change the desired settings Blue: Control the before and after effect through the layer visibility
Red:Change the desired settings Blue: Control the before and after effect through the layer visibility

Finished!


Awesome, you are already done! Now just simply select all of your new layers and drag them down to the folder symbol. Like this they will be sorted into a group, which you for example can rename to 'facial retouch'. Now with one click on the eye symbol next to your group you can compare the before and after results of your retouch! Of course there are many more possibilities, but I hope this article could give you a basic introduction into portrait retouch with Photoshop. If the feedback will be good further tutorials might follow:)

Drag down to create group
Drag down to create group
Before the retouch...
Before the retouch...
...and after.
...and after.

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