How to make full retouch of beauty picture

June 11, 2016   27441 views

Author of this article - Alisa Erontieva. This article is performed exclusively for my website.

In this article, we consider the case when the main artistic effect and idea achieved during the shooting, not through postprocessing.

Perception portrait retouching and it's quality, as well as photography itself, is extremely subjective. The main indicator of the quality of the portrait retouching means how it corresponds to the aim.

Our main task in this photo was to correct defects that could not be eliminated during the shooting, and to highlight some details, trying to keep the natural texture of the skin.

The presented technique requires perseverance and takes a lot of time – hours or even days. You can't keep the right texture of the skin with the help of automated processes such as different techniques using Blur filter or maybe Portraiture plugin. The main thing is to understand when it is worth doing such a hard work and when it's not. It should at least be evaluated by someone, and better - paid separately. The amount of work and time spent on itis also strongly influenced by the quality of the source. In our case, the photo was taken on Hasselblad H3DII-31, and the high resolution and detalisation complicated the process, any wrong step would be noticeable.

Photoshop - a program with enormous potential. There are a lot of different ways to achieve the same result. We will demonstrate our techniques we are using this days. Faced with new challenges, we always look for a more convenient and high-quality solution, recycle old technology and always improve. Nevertheless, the main stages of retouching skin are always the same, any methods to accelerate the process negatively affect the quality of the final result.

Original picture

(the picture was made by portrait photographer Oleg Ti

Portrait retouching layer Photoshop

Initial work with RAW-file

When we have the task of editing photos in Adobe Photoshop, we use a converter Adobe Camera Raw, because it is the most convenient program for editing the source of multiple RAW-files.

Lets open the photo in Adobe Camera Raw.

The original color of the image seemed to us a bit yellowish. To suppress the yellow colour we moved Color Temperature slider to the cold and slightly reduced the Vibrance and Saturation. In our opinion, the colors became more natural.

The result of color correction in Camera RawPortrait retouching

We will nowgo into the settings Camera Raw - it is a separate big topic.

Click on the blue link below the name of the file under the preview of a photograph.

In the window Workflow Options that appears, enter the following settings:

Portrait retouching

In Space field, we choose ProPhoto RGB color space – it has a very wide color range.

Depth field indicates 16 Bits / Channel, as this mode has more information in the channels, which produces less distortion in the further image correction.

Be sure to check in the item Open in Photoshop as Smart Objects.

Click Ok. In the Camera Raw click Open Object.


In the Layers palette you will see the icon over the preview of the layer which means that this layer is a Smart Object. Let's name the layer Original.

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Opening RAW-file as a Smart Object, we implement it in a PSD-file. Thus, we can go back to adjust RAW-file in Camera Raw at any stage. The advantage of this method is that you can make various adjustments of individual pieces of photographs in a wide range with minimal loss of information. The only negative - a Smart Object layer significantly adds weight to PSD-file.

To duplicate the base layer in the form of Original Smart Object, click right  buttom on the layer in the Layers palette and select the item New Smart Object via Copy.

Click twiceon the preview of the new layer to open it in Camera Raw. Produce the desired correction layer. Click Ok.

To make changes visible only on the desired areas of a photo, make a black mask and use white brush with a different percentage of transparency to "exercise" the needed areas.

We duplicated the Original layer several times. To retouch separately eyes, hair, hand, arm and shoulder.

Portrait retouching beauty tutorial layer

Shoulder and arm covered less than the face. We have increased setting Exposure in the Camera Raw,to make the body and the face look more balanced. To highlight the parts of the body we used the Pen Tool and moved the selection to black mask.

To make the fabric and hair more volume, we created two layers with different exposures (+1 and -1). On the black mask of the layer with exposure -1 using a brush with varying transparency, we increased the dark areas of tissue and strands of hair. On the layer with the exposure +1, we made ​​light areas and strands more expressive.

On the layer with the eyes in the Camera Raw the following settings were increased: Exposure, Saturation, Clarity and Vibrance. Next on the black mask with a 30% soft brush we drew irises of the eyes to createmore depth and slightly brightened.

The final result after correction in Camera Raw

Portrait retouching tutorial layer Photoshop

Detailed post processing of photography

After the initial correction of the image webegin to detailthedesign of the photo, paying attention to all the nuances.

Healing Brush Tool and the Clone Stamp Tool

First, remove the most defective part of the skin.

We use Healing Brush Tool, forit is fully controllable contraryto Spot Healing Brush Tool. To replace the defective portion,we copy intact skin area as close as possible to the site, which must be replaced. You should pay particular attention to match the texture and skin tones. If possible, avoid repeatingthe same area of ​​the skin because thetexture will be noticeable.

We make a new transparent layer for the convenience of later editing correction tools Healing Brush Tool and the Clone Stamp Tool. Working on an empty layer allows us to use different methods of correction separately duplicated region without affecting the entire image. To use these tools on a transparent layer, you need to configure the instrument panel to select the paragraph Sample All Layers.

With the Healing Brush Tool, we have removed the biggest blemishes on the face, moles on the body, the capillaries on the whites of the eyes and corrected the lips.

Portrait retouching healing brush Portrait retouching beauty tutorial Photoshop healing brush

Portrait retouching tutorial layer Photoshop healing brush Portrait retouching retouch healing brush

Portrait retouching healing brush Portrait retouching healing brush Photoshop beauty

We try to work with this tool asminimal as possible, not to make a plastic effect on the skin and not to disturb the structure of the skin.

Plots which located on contrasting edges, we remove it with the tool Clone Stamp Tool: in contrast to the Healing Brush Tool it will not blur the boundaries of objects. We cleaned the background stamp and knocked out somehair.

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Transparent layer Healing Brush Tool and Clone Stamp Tool

Portrait retouch healing brush

The final result after the Healing Brush Tool and the Clone Stamp Tool

Beauty retouching healing brush

Alignment of the skin

Filing of skin irregularity createddark and light spots. At this stage, we will point lighten dark spots and dimming light, thus aligning the structure of the skin. This is the most important and longest stage of the work. You can work for hours above the small but complex plots, but this technique helps you to balance uneven skintone, while respecting its texture.

To lighten dark spots, we create adjustment layer Curves and drag up the curve fromthe center ofthe diagonal.

Beauty Portrait retouching tutorial lesson skin

Let's invert the white mask layer toblack. Then take Dodge Tool and choose Shadows in Palette tool settings in paragraph Range.

After that,we draw on the dark spots of the skin on theblack mask usinga small percentage of transparency tools (typically 1% to 10% depending onthedarkness of thespot), thereby making them lighter and evenwith the general tone of the skin.

Also you can draw usinga normal white brush with a little transparency on theblack mask. But the Dodge Tool is more convenient because when you drive it on one plot, without releasing the mouse button, and its effect is gradually increasing.

It is simpleto start lightening spots from larger to smaller up to study the individual pores. The main thing you should pay attention to the dark spots isnot to make them too bright especially in the shadows. If that happened on any set, you can get a mask with a black brush with a small percentage of transparency, thereby dampen or remove lightening.

The layer mask lightening spots with Curves

Beauty Portrait retouching skin
We do the same with the bright spots on a new layer adjustment, but the curve is bent diagonally down.

Tutorial portrait retouching beauty photoshop

The layer mask with black-spots with Curves

Portrait retouch tutorial mask beauty

Working on the spots with thehelp of  curves, dark spots can become not only lighter, but also more saturated, which can lead to the appearance of orange patches on the skin. When we darken bright spots,they become less saturated, more gray.

To avoid this, for each layer ofcurves we createdanother layer settings Hue / Saturation, which adjusts the color saturation of the spots.

We bind the Hue / Saturation layer to layer with curves to act only on those areas that we are working on. To do this, we put the Hue / Saturation layer above the layer with Curves and between them,in the Layers palette click the mouse button while holding down the Alt key.

retouching layer Photoshop retouch
Accordingly, for a layer with a little lightening spots we removedSaturation, for a layer with black-spots we addedSaturation. If necessary, you can adjust the tone using the Hue slider.

To make it easier, you can create an auxiliary adjustment layer Channel Mixer. It must always be at the top of the Layers palette. Forthe setting of this layer you should tick on paragraph Monochrome, slider of the red channel slide to the negative, green and especially blue to a plus. While working you can correct the percentage of the channels to see this or that area of the pictures.

retouching retouch beauty saturation

So we can see all imperfections of the skin.

Image with Channel Mixer before the correction with Curves

Portrait retouching article

When the additional layer Channel Mixer is on, we are working with curves, as well as we achieve the effect of "silver" skin.

When the work is completed, Channel Mixer have to be removed.

Image with Channel Mixer after correction with Curves

Portrait retouching article Photoshop


Portrait retouch Portrait curves skin


Beauty retouching Portrait retouching Photoshop beauty
We never completely remove nasolabial folds, wrinkles and creases under the eyes, wrinkles on the phalanges. If required, these areas can be brightened. If they are completely removed a person will look like a mannequin. When retouching you should never forget about natural structure of the human face and body.

The final result after adjusting the image using curves

Portrait beauty retouching

Removal of color patches

After we removed the main light and dark spots, we start to remove color stains. There are a lot of variants inworking with them. You can use adjustment layers Curves, Hue / Saturation, Selective Color. It all depends on which method is easier to use fora particular case.

There are many spots that have red tint on the face, for example, a site on the chin too red.

Create a layer correction Curves, in red and blue channels, make the curve down slightly diagonal to make thisred hue turn yellow and goes the same with the general tone of the skin. Then on the black mask usinga soft brush with a different percentage of saturation,carefully remove the red spot.

Be careful not to touch the skin thatdoesnot need to be adjusted, or you can create new color spots.

Portrait Retouching Skin model retouch beauty picture Portrait Retouching Photoshop color

We made a similar procedure on the face and body, removing the color spots, which are very different from the general tone of the skin. Don't try to tone all face in one shade, the skin will look unnatural.

To remove the yellow color on thenailswe used adjustment layer Hue / Saturation. With this layer we make yellow shade more natural.

The tips of the nails wasbrightened using Curves.

Portrait retouch skin model beauty Portrait Retouch

Working with the whites of hereyes, don't make them too white, it looks unnatural, and sometimes frightening. And don’t forget, the whites and the iris also have volume and shadow. If you removed the shade in the process, don't forget to put them back again.

The final result after stains removal

Portrait Beauty Retouch Photoshop

The final touches

Retouching doesn’talways have aclear plan. Sometimes you have to go back to the previous stage.

For example, adjusting the hairline on the forehead, we spent only after cleansing the skin. We have chosen this course of action, not to duplicate skin irregularities and stains, as the area to work on is larger.

With the stamp we removed excess hair on the forehead. To make the border look more natural, we worked through the hair roots with brightening and darkening Curves layer.

Photoshop hair Beauty Photoshop hair

Adding texture

To makethe image look natural after all the manipulations, we can put noise on some areas of the face, simulating the natural texture of the skin. For example, it was necessary for the part on the forehead, where we had removed the hair.

We advise you not to abuse with the method of replacing the skin texture. They should be used only in cases where it is necessary.

On the Layers, pinching Alt, click the icon Create a new layer.

In the window that appeared in paragraph Mode specify the blending mode to Soft Light and put a tick in paragraph Fill with Soft Light neutral color (50% gray).

Portrait Retouching Photoshop


You have a layer with a fill of 50% gray. In the Soft Light, 50% gray is neutral, so it's clear.

We impose noise on this layer with the following way: Filter-Noise-Add Noise.

retouch of beauty portrait


With Filter-Stylize-Emboss little "scattered" noise in the required direction, the texture looked less uniform.

Portrait Retouching beauty photography skin model


We should mitigate this result by Filter-Noise-Median.

skin Retouching beauty photography

Then create a black mask for this layer and with a soft brush, from 20% to 45%, spending on skin areas that are dimly expressed invoice.

Keep the noise not falling on the eyes, lips and hair.

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Imposing noise, you should always pay attention on the natural skin structure. All parameters are highly dependent on a particular image, and even part of the skin. In one photograph may be several layers of noise - for different fragments of skin.


We can make the image a little more contrastyby using the adjustment layer Hue / Saturation. Remove saturation to -100, set the blending mode toSoft Light, reduce the opacity to 13%.

This is the simplest and most gentle way to raise the contrast of photos.

The final result after adding noise and contrast.

Beauty retouch contrast sharpening

Adding sharpening

We'll show you a little interesting reception. With it, we emphasize some areas of photos. In essence, this is sharpening, but the effect is different from the standard filters in Photoshop.

Duplicate and merge all the layers together with the key combination Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E.

Next: Filter-Blur-Surface Blur. In paragraph Radius and Threshold set the same values, they depend on the size of the photo. In our case, this value is 20.

Then for this layer set the blending mode Vivid Light, invert the layer command Ctrl + I.

Next step: once again merge and duplicate layers combination Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E together with the newly created layer.

The resulting merged layer blending mode set to Overlay.

Then delete bottom merged layer overlay Vivid Light.

For the layer with Overlay we create a black mask and with a soft white brush with a small percentage of transparency paint on the eyes, lips and highlights on her hair.

Note that excessive sharpness on photos will look just as bad as its loss.

professional Portrait Retouching sharp model skin Portrait sharpening


Beauty Portrait retouch layers Portrait Retouching

In the end, we have revived the background behind the model adding the light spot. Slightly tweak with the Liquify filter the shape of the nose, the left eye, upper lip and trimmed the teeth.

Final result

Photoshop Portrait Retouching

In conclusion, a few words.

In retouching there is a fine line between "good" and "too much" it is very important to feel and try not to cross it. With long hours of work on one image it is not always possible to adequately assess the results. You start to see spots and bumps, even wherethey are not. If it is possible, give yourself and your eyes some rest then look at the image with a fresh eyes. And at the end of the work try to reduce the transparency of all layers retouched to 70% -50%, sometimes it turns out that it's so much better :)


This article is written by Alisa Eronteva & Dmitriy Nikiforov