Smooth Skin Tutorial

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In this two-step tutorial I'll demonstrate how to smoothen skin through the use of various filters, and several techniques to re-sharpen your smoothened photo and add texture to the skin so it doesn't appear too edited.

The goal of this tutorial is to teach you several skin smoothing techniques that you can use to remove blemishes, wrinkles, and essentially emulate what the 'professionals' do when they modify model photos.

STEP 1 - Smoothing Techniques

Once you've opened your photo in Photoshop, duplicate the photo (Background) layer, then go to Filter>Blur>Surface Blur.

Use these settings:

Radius: 15px …..Threshold: 10px

As you can see, the surface blur tool is an amazing tool for smoothing skin, and you could probably stop the tutorial here and have a great result. But for those of you who want an air-brushed looking photo,

Next, make a new layer and go to Image>Apply Image...

Now go to Filter>Noise>Median...

As you can see, some parts are a bit blurry, but we're about to fix that. The purpose of the Median filter is to smoothen the hair, lips, and further smoothen the skin slightly.

But one thing that should never be 'smoothened' are the eyes, always avoid filtering the eyes unless you're sharpening them or using adjustment layers to enhance them.

Select the eraser tool (hitting E on your keyboard will quickly select the eraser tool.), set the Mode to 'Brush' at 100% Opacity, select the Hard Round brush at about 10px diameter (depending on the size of your photo) and very carefully erase where the eyes are.

Choose 5px for the radius, then set this layer to 40% Opacity.

Now we're going to quickly throw in a sharpen filter so we don't have to work so hard to sharpen the image once we're done using smoothing techniques.

So make a new layer, go to Image>Apply Image..., then Filter>Sharpen and set this layer to 75% Opacity.

(Note: You May need to erase around the eyes and other areas if they appear too sharp after this step)

Next we're going to give the skin an air-brushed look by blurring a specific area of the skin.

So make a new layer, and name it "face shape" and use the pen tool to make an outline of the face like so:



Now right click inside the shape and choose "Make Selection...", make sure the Feather radius is set to 0px.

Now fill this selection with a color, the color doesn't matter, but I personally chose white. You should now have something like this:




Next, hide this layer, and make a new layer. Then go to Image>Apply Image...

Now, while holding Ctrl on your keyboard, left click on the layer preview box to the left of the "face shape" text on your face shape layer. Doing this will create a selection like shown below:




With this selection active, go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Use 2.0 Radius.

Now right click inside your selection and choose "Select Inverse", then hit Delete on your keyboard.

As you can see, the whole face is blurry right now, but we're about to fix that. Choose the eraser tool again, use the same settings as before (Mode: Brush, 100% Opacity, Hard Round brush, 10px radius.), and carefully erase at the eye brows, eyes, mouth and nose. That concludes the smoothing step, now we'll move on to the step two - Sharpening and Restoring Realism.



In this step we'll be making heavy use of the Gaussian Blur layer we made just now by Ctrl+Clicking on the layer icon to sharpen and texture specific parts of the skin on other layers.

So make a new layer, and go to Image>Apply Image..., then Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen.Now Ctrl+Click on the Gaussian Blur layer we made previously to make a selection like we did before.



Now right click inside the selection and choose "Select Inverse", then hit delete on your keyboard.

In this step we're going to make things look much sharper, and fix some of the blurriness by using an amazing filter called the High Pass filter.

Next, make a new layer and go to Image>Apply Image..., then Filter>Other>High Pass. Set the Radius to 5px and click OK.

Now set this later to Overlay at 50% Opacity.

In this step we're going to be adding the final smoothing technique, which will really help along the air-brushed look, it works the same way as the previous step, but we're inverting the High Pass filter to blur (smoothen) instead of sharpen.

So make a new layer and go to Image>Apply Image..., then Filter>Other>High Pass. Set the Radius to 5px and click OK.

Next hit Ctrl+I on your keyboard to invert the image. Now set this layer to Overlay at 30% Opacity.

Now Ctrl+Click on your Gaussian Blur layer again to make the same selection as before like shown below:



Now right click inside this selection and choose "Select Inverse", then hit Delete on your keyboard

In this step I'll be adding a curves adjustment layer to fix the contrast of the photo.

Next go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves..., and use the settings shown below:



In this next step I'm going to be adding noise to give the skin a bit of texture and make things look a bit more realistic.

So for the final step, make a new layer, go to Image>Apply Image..., then Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Use the below settings:

Amount: 1%.............................Distribution: Uniform

Monochromatic: Checked……………And you're done!




For interactive steps:

by Bonnie J Matthews-Franke

Bonnie has been taking pictures since she was a little girl, but she didn't get into digital photography until about four years ago, just before she joined the club.

Matthews finds the club to be very beneficial to her. The interaction with other members, being able to ask questions, the workshops and the knowledge that I take away from the club is phenomenal.

She is very active, attending most of the workshops and field trips. She has missed only a few workshops the last few years and has attended about 70% of the field trips. The fall color trip is one she�s really looking forward to.

When asked what kind of photography she prefers, she said landscapes. She just finished a vacation trip to Oregon where she photographed lighthouses, old barns and covered bridges. I really like old structures, she said. She now loves portraits and has her own studio.

Matthews has a Canon 5D MKII and a variety of lenses and accessories. Her favorite lens is a 28-135mm ,70-200mm. & 100mm.

Matthews is our new secretary of the club and has made many changes to help us grow. One improvement she hopes to make, however, is to archive the meeting notes she takes so new members can have access to them online.

I'm really proud that the club is growing like it is, and that the workshops are so great.

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