Picture Day, next to prom, is one of the most important events of high-school senior year. Teens want to look their absolute best, but due to the nature of adolescence, their skin doesn’t always cooperate for the occasion.
If you want to make your senior subject’s skin appear flawless on Picture Day, just a few simple retouching techniques can help put teens in their best light.
Photoshop Tools Work Wonders
Retouching skin requires several Photoshop tools. The Patch tool, Spot Healing brush, Healing brush, Brush tool, and some form of dodging and burning are most commonly used. When applied in combination, they create beautiful, smooth skin tones.
Try duplicating the background before retouching to make the process simpler and faster, merging good retouching after each step so that you won’t work over or under yourself.
The original background offers “before” material that can be copied and pasted as an “eraser” if you overlook a mistake you can’t get out of in the History window.
Here’s how and when to use the retouching tools for fast, easy, effective results:
• The Spot Healing Brush is great for removing tiny dots like blackheads, dark pores, whiskers, and glitter. For best results, apply the tool on a new layer and set the options for “Normal, Proximity Match,” and “Sample All Layers.” Press the stylus down only hard enough to cover the dot; don’t overdo it. When this step is completed, merge onto the Background Copy.
• The Patch Tool is for blemishes that have both highlights and shadows. This tool cannot be used on a layer, so you will work directly on the Background Copy. Set the option to “Source,” circle the spot you want to remove, click inside the marching ants selection, and drag it to clear skin. When you release the stylus, the original area will be blemish-free.
NOTE: If several blemishes are in the same area, you can hold the Shift Key down while you circle them all. When you click inside any of the marching ants selections they will all drag together.
• The Healing Brush is too “mushy” for my taste, so I don’t use it often. But it’s great for equalizing values in sections of the face, while simultaneously adding a bit of soft focus, like toning down oily highlights or lightening under eye shadows when sharp creases are present.
Use the Healing Brush on a new layer. Set the options to “Normal, Source Sampled.” Do not check “Aligned,” but do check “Sample All Layers.” Position the cursor over a good area, hold down the Option (Alt) key, and click to set a source point. Position the cursor over the area to be toned down and color over it. When you release the stylus, the area will be filled with the source material. Reduce the layer opacity to “0” and slowly bring it back until you like it. When this step is completed, merge onto the Background Copy.
At this point, the face should be ready for blending. I use the Dodge and Burn Tools on the Background Copy for this process. Set the range to “Midtones,” exposure to “5%.” Hidden Curves layers, Hidden Screen, and Multiply Layers. Or use a Neutral Gray Layer set to either “Soft Light” or “Overlay” with the Brush tool at 5%.
Either way, use a brush slightly smaller than the area you want to work on and fit the retouching exactly over the areas that need to be lightened or darkened. Sculpt the lighting to accent the shapes of the features and create soft, graceful transitions between the highlights, diffused highlights, and shaded sides. Zoom in and out so you can see the big picture, as well as the small things. Change brush sizes as needed.
With any of the above methods other than using the Dodge and Burn tools, the completed artwork should be merged onto the Background Copy. Extensive dodging and burning with any method results in discoloration. That’s easy to fix: Use the Brush tool set to “Color” mode. Option (Alt)-click the correct color and lightly brush over the discoloration, being careful not to go over the edges. After just a few coats, the color should blend in.
That’s it! This process of retouching is fast and easy to do. The dodge-and-burn techniques take practice, but once you get it, you’ll fly through the work.