How to Effectively Smoothen Skin in Photoshop [Step-By-Step Tutorial]
Retouching portraits requires careful attention to details and accuracy. Achieving quality smooth skin in Photoshop will lead to more pleasing portraits. Have you ever wondered how photo editing services are able to achieve flawless portrait photos?
In this tutorial, you will learn how to improve portraits by giving the subject a smooth looking skin in Photoshop. Smoothening skin and blemish removal can be simple and complex. Learn the techniques that advanced photo editors use. Such as how to retouch portrait, glamour, and model photography.
Basically, achieving smooth skin in Photoshop means skillful editing. Learn how to remove blemishes, spots, and other kinds of imperfections first. It is the initial step before moving on how to smooth skin in Photoshop and achieving a silky smooth look. It would be difficult to remove the blemishes if you are going to smoothen the face first. This is why if you want to perfect this technique, you must follow the tutorial step-by-step.
To follow along this tutorial, get a good quality photograph to edit. This will serve as your practice image to smooth skin in Photoshop. Let’s get started!
How to Smoothen Skin in Photoshop
Step 1: Open the image in Photoshop.
Any version of the software is fine and can work if you want to have smooth skin in Photoshop.
Step 2: Make a copy of the image by duplicating the layer.
The Layers Panel will show the original image as the Background. A separate layer will protect the original image. Make a copy of the background layer by right-clicking on the Background at the Layers Panel. After that, click on Duplicate Layer.
Step 3: Name the new layer as “Spot Healing”.
You will see how that layer adds on top of the Background layer.
Step 4: Find the Spot Healing Brush at the left adjustment panel.
On the Type option, make sure that it is set to Content-Aware.
Step 5: Select the Brush Tool
To set the brush, click on the brush drop-down menu to see the brush details. Here you will see different settings like brush size and hardness. Try to set the brush into medium around 60-70 px large, this will give you a softer brush to work on your image. To check what the brush can do, click on a blemish and see what the changes will be.
Step 6: Change the Brush Tool’s Size.
Make it slightly bigger than the spot or blemish. The brush will use the good skin texture from around the blemish and replace the problem areas . Continue clicking until every spot covers the blemish.
Step 7: Complete the initial skin cleanup.
Make quick retouching using this technique. Apply to acne scars, pimples, large pores, and other skin imperfections. Always check and be careful not to remove any beauty spot and distinguishing marks, like freckles. These are natural skin characteristics that will help give the picture a natural finish.
Step 8: Make a copy of the “Spot Healing” layer.
Click that layer on the Layers Panel then select Duplicate Layer and rename it to “Smooth Skin”. You will see this layer on top of all layers.
Step 9: This time, let’s use Photoshop’s High Pass Filter to smoothen the skin.
Select Other from the Filter menu on the top bar then click on High Pass. This filter is usually used to sharpen images. Although we are not going to sharpen the image, the result is the same. This is because the High Pass filter will sharpen the edges thereby making them look smooth.
What the High Pass filter will do is look for edges then highlight them. An edge is an area in the image where there is a sudden change in brightness. These are usually found in the area along the hair, the eyes, mouth, and jawline. Since the skin texture has low amounts of detail, High Pass filter does not consider it as an edge. It will then fill the areas with a neutral grey color instead of highlighting them.
Step 10: Set Proper Radius for High Pass effect.
Once the High Pass box pops up, set the radius to 24 pixels then press OK. The image will turn grey but do not panic; the next steps will fix everything.
Step 11: Use Blur Effects.
Click again on the Filter then select Blur and then click on Gaussian Blur. Set the radius to 8 pixels then click OK. Notice that the High Pass effects become smoother and less pronounced.
Step 12: Setting on Linear Light.
Back to the Layers Panel, make the blend mode of the Smooth Skin layer to Linear Light instead of Normal. The result will give the photo an over-sharpened and high-contrast image as the High Pass effect blends with the image.
Step 13: Click on the Image tab on the top bar then select Adjustments and click Invert.
As soon as you click Invert, the image will look blurry and it will have strange halos on it.
Step 14: Use Blending Options.
At the Layers Panel, click on Layer Styles located at the bottom, then click blending options.
Step 15: The Layers Style dialog box will pop up.
Find the Blend If sliders and use the This Layer slider. The sliders will control how the Smooth Skin layer will blend in the image. Moving the slider to the left will blend the darker areas. While moving it to the right will blend the lighter areas of the image.
Step 16: Press Alt (PC) or Option (Mac) then click and drag the right slider 95% towards the left.
Pressing the Alt or Option will divide the slider in two so only one will move and the other stays put.
See the halos fade away as you start dragging the slider. As the slider is being moved all the way, The lighter halos reduces.
Step 17: The same thing should happen on the other side of the slider.
Again, press Alt/Option but this time, move the left slider 95% of the way to the right. The darker halos will start to fade away this time. Just like with the lighter halos, the darker halos will be removed as much if you move the slider all the way. This will result to smoothening of the whole image.
Step 18: Adding Layer Mask and Smooth Effect.
To make the smoothing effect stay only on the skin areas, you have to add a layer mask. Press and hold Alt/Option then click the Add Layer Mask located at the bottom of the panel. You will then find a black-filled layer mask thumbnail at the Smooth Skin layer. What it will do is to hide the smoothing effect from the image using the brush tool.
Step 19: Select the brush tool located at the left-hand tool panel.
Change the hardness and size of the brush from the brush tab at the top bar. Use a bigger brush if you want to work faster and areas where you need to be precise apply a smaller brush.
Step 20: Apply Smoothening effects on needed areas.
Start working from the forehead down to the nose area, cheeks, and other facial features. Try Hitting “X” if you make mistakes.
Step 21: Preview Masking effects you applied
When you finished, Hold the Alt/Option then click on the black layer mask that has now turned white. You will see a white mask that has a black background. These areas are where you have applied the smooth skin effect using the brush. You will see the areas that you missed and you can do a few brush strokes if you want.
Step 22: Escape masking preview.
Press and hold Alt/Option and click on the layer mask thumbnail to get out of the layer mask.
Step 23: Adjust Opacity.
Finally, on the Layers Panel, lower the opacity from 100% to 70%.
If you have followed the steps above, you will see that the image looks a lot better. It is free from any spots or blemishes and the skin looks evenly smooth.
Check out these before and after photos and compare it to what you have.
Related Tutorials on How to Smooth Skin in Photoshop
Now, you have learned how to achieve smooth skin in Photoshop. Get ready to impress everyone else with your newfound skill. Becoming a pro skin editor is not an easy feat. It takes plenty of practice to become an expert on how to smooth skin in Photoshop.Learn more from other related tutorials below:
Tutorial 1 – High-End Skin Softening in 1 Minute or Less in Photoshop
Tutorial 2 – How to Keep the Natural Skin Texture in Photoshop
Tutorial 3 – Face Smooth In Photoshop | Easy Frequency Separation Tutorial
Tutorial 5 – 3 Effective Methods For A Smooth Beautiful Skin
Photo retouching services is a very popular industry. Photographers, photo studios and advertising firms are very particular about this service. Editing smooth skin in Photoshop is a serious job. The best photos presented to the clients or customers are outstanding. That is why it is important to achieve perfection in every detail. Always remember, every photo serves as a good representation of the company or the photographer.
In order to perfect the techniques, always remember that perfection is not always about achieving the smoothest skin. Keep in min that the skin has its natural characteristics. The effect should look and feel like as natural as possible. Beauty spots, such as moles, freckles, and even birth marks must be enhanced rather than covered up. It will also depend, of course, on the client’s specifications. So unless the instruction is clear about hiding these marks, then there is no need to remove them. Experiment on how you can achieve a natural finish that looks pleasant instead of an ultra-perfect skin that looks fake and unnatural.