The secret of spotless beauty is hidden inside an image editing software that can turn a simple-looking girl into a Cleopatra. You may have come across many beautiful faces on magazine and the Internet but what you don’t know is that in reality,they are not as beautiful as shown on advertisement photography. In fact, every modeling photo passes through photo editing software before they are published. In this article, I will tell you how to retouch portrait in Adobe Photoshop.
The human face can’t be spotless. There are no exceptions. From the very beginning of my adventure in the world of photography, I was a great admirer of fashion magazines. A series of spotless beauty rocked my mind and I decided to start modeling photography. But my mind broke when I was introduced to a famous model by a fashion photographer, who worked for many glamour magazines. When I was talking to her, I clearly noticed blemishes and pimples on her face.I even noticed dark circle around her eyes. I asked my photographer friend about the truth. Replying with a smiling face, my friend told me to go through Adobe Photoshop to reveal the truth behind spotless, beautiful faces. I followed his advice and gradually became an expert in retouching portrait.
From the very beginning retouching of negative was an integral part of portrait photography. In my time, every studio had at least one retouch artist. This was done manually with extremely thin brushes and pigments. Today’s digital photography banished those artists and made retouching easier than ever so that anybody with little knowledge in editing photography can exhibit his excellence.
You may think makeup and studio light can hide all dark spots and patches on the face. It’s partially true. Yes makeup can hide those dark spots and pimples on the face. But in strong photo light, makeup may look too harsh and can expose pimples and blotches. Using image editing software, you can blend the skin tone to give it a sublime appearance. Even a person without makeup can look extraordinary after retouching with editing software. Here I’m describing how to make someone extraordinary from ordinary. I will use Abode Photoshop CS6 to explain how to retouch portrait with confidence.
Our main objective would be to soften skin and to make it spotless. We will also remove wrinkles and lines from the face. Before starting, I have to tell you that retouching of portrait obviously enhances the quality of picture, but you should do it in controlled fashion. Always try to maintain a natural look as much as possible. You shouldn’t edit an elder’s face to make him look like 20 years younger than his present age. It’s a weird idea. Your objective is to make him look like as much as 10 years younger than his or her current age.Note: Retouching of face may affect the original look of the subject. Do not edit any photo related to identity proof except exposure correction.
In this article, I will give stress upon frequency separation technique and clone stamp tool, including spot healing tool. There is no preset effect or short cut in it, so you have to all the things manually.
Retouching Portrait Using Frequency Separation
In digital image, frequency plays an important role.Each image consists of numerous frequency, which can be divided in high and low frequency, each of which stores some data. This process helps us to separate skin color and tone from the texture of portrait.Hence,we can use a number of retouching tool with ultimate perfection. This makes retouching a portrait lot easier than ever. Many experts consider this technique to be the basic of any portrait retouching.
Skin is the major issue in any portrait. This technique mostly improves the skin’s texture and gives it a subtle look. The image below is an example of portrait retouching using frequency separation technique. Look carefully on the skin and lips. The photo is shot using a speed light only, without any makeup. But after editing, the portrait look much better than before. You must notice that apart from the texture of the skin, no color is affected in retouching the image.
Using frequency separation technique is not a rocket science. It’s really easy to apply. But after separating frequencies, you have to use an array of retouching tools to make it perfect. I basically use close stamp and spot healing tool to do this.
Using this method, you can give a professional look to any portrait that has been snapped inside your home without professional-quality lighting system and makeup.
Let’s Begin with Step One
Open an image on Photoshop (any version will work fine). The first step of frequency separation technique starts with making two copies of the background. So, press Ctrl + J twice to make two duplicate copies. You have three layers on layer’s plane.
Now, change the name of the top layer to “High frequency,” and layer beneath the top layer to “Low frequency.” No need to change the name of background layer. Now turn off the visibility of “High frequency” layer by clicking on the eye ball icon on “High frequency” layer.
Select the “Low frequency” layer and go to Filter. Click on Blur and from dropdown menu choose “Gaussian Blur.”
Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur
Drag the slider of “Gaussian Blur” effect to make all the spots and lines on the face look blur. But do not make it over blur that will make the whole image look heavily blurred. Try to keep the value of radius in between 5 and 9. Then click OK.
Now select the top layer and make it visible. Then go to Image and select Apply image from the dropdown menu. Apply Image dialog box will open. Now you have to make some important corrections in it.Click on “Layer” and select source layer as “Low frequency” from the dropdown menu. Then click on Blending and from the dropdown menu and select “Subtract.” Set the value of Scale to 1 or 2 and Offset to 128. After setting all the values, click OK.
Apparently this will make the top layer look wired.
Image > Apply image
Now change the blend mode of “High frequency” layer to Linier Light. You will notice the appearance turned to its normal look.
Now select the “Low Frequency”layer and zoom in the layer little bit and select the Lasso tool from the tools menu and draw a round shape on the forehead of the portrait. Now we have to put some Feather to make the edges soft, so that it blends with the skin tone. To do this, click on Select and then Refined Edge. Drag the Feather slider to obtain a desired feathering result. 23 to 28 px looks pretty good, but it depends on the quality of the image.Now click on Cancel. Remember the value and put the same value in Lasso tool’s Feather setting. Now deselect by pressing Ctrl + D.
With Lasso tool, cover the forehead, but don’t mess with the hair or eyebrow. After that, go to Filter and select “Gaussian Blur” and adjust the slider to clear all the blemishes and aging lines on the forehead, and then deselect the Lasso tool by pressing Ctrl + D. If you are happy with the result, then draw on the cheek, chin, neck, and shoulder and apply the same filter setting by pressing Ctrl + F. Continue this process until you get your desired result. But do it moderately. Over smoothing of skin may produce a fake look.
Nose and Lip Correction
In this section, I will tell you the method of using clone stamp tool which is suitable for both nose and lip texture correction. Many people have small dark spots on the nose. You can notice this if you zoom in the portrait. Likewise, lips may have crack lines on it. To fix them, we will use clone stamp tool.
Select the “High Frequency” layer and then select “Clone Stamp” tool. Flow should be 100% and change the opacity to 40%. Make sure to select “Current Layer.” Now, select an area that has smooth texture and hold Alt key left click on it to create a sample and then drag the mouse over the nose. The texture of the smooth area will be applied on the nose.
Following the same procedure, crack or dark spots on the lip can be corrected. In this case, sample a smooth texture area on the lip and apply it on nearest areas on the lip.
Removing Dark Spots and Blemish from the Face
If you find any unwanted spot on face, remove it with Spot Healing Brush Tool. Select the “High frequency” layer, select Spot Healing Brush, make the size of brush little bigger than the spot, and click on a smooth texture area which is close to the spot by pressing Alt key and then releasing the Alt key click on the spot.
I hope this article will help you to retouch portraits with confidence. Try all those techniques and turn the ordinary to an extraordinary.