Friday, January 30, 2009

Photoshop: How to soften skin and sharpen features on portraits

I just got Scott Kelby's new Adobe Photoshop CS4 book from Amazon. As always, it's full of cool tricks and efficient techniques.

I followed one of his tutorials on how to soften and sharpen a portrait. Check out the picture of Desiree I used from our New Year's Eve party. The before and after difference is really dramatic.

Here's how he does it:

  1. Create a copy of your background layer.
  2. On the copy, go to Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur. Set it to 25 pixels.
  3. Lower the opacity of the new blurred out layer to 50%. Later we'll bring it down to about 35%.
  4. Hold down the option key (PC: Alt) and click the "add mask button" on the bottom of your Layers window. Holding the option key creates a black mask that hides the layer.
  5. With the newly created black mask selected, select the brush tool and use a medium sized "fuzzy" brush to paint in the areas you want softened. I painted in cheeks and shoulders; basically any skin that wasn't lips, hair, eyes or nostrils.
  6. Lower the layer opacity to 35%.
  7. Press Command+Option+Shift+E to create a flattened layer copy of your current visible layers. (Essentially flattening your image into a new layer while preserving your existing layers).
  1. Select the layer from step 7 and copy it.
  2. On the new copied layer, run sharpening. For female portraits, Scott uses unsharp mask with values of 120%, radius: 1.0, and threshold: 3.
  3. Hold option while clicking the new layer mask button. This gives you a black mask that hides the layer again.
  4. Use the brush to paint in the areas that you want sharpened. I painted in eyes, lips, nostrils and hair.

(Note: I also applied mild color correction to the "After" photo.)


Steve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve said...

well keira knightley would have found it funny... good demo, anyhow.

Andy said...

Haha. Don't worry. It was funny.

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