I’ve been really enjoying my online Photoshop course. One technique I thought I’d share from the video was how to smooth out skin in a photo using Photoshop. I will be using Photoshop CS4 to do the demo. I am pretty sure this how to will work with almost any version.
- Copy the picture you are working on to a new layer using CTRL+J
- Rename the new layer to “Soft”
- Go up to “Filter” Menu
- Click Other
- Click “High Pass”
- Adjust the sharpening mask just a bit so that the thinks like the eye outlines are there and maybe a bit of skin details
- Click Ok
- Remove the color in the shark mask by going into “Image” drop down
- Click Adjustments
- Click “Hue/Saturation”
- Take the saturation glider and move it left to “–100%”
- Click Ok
- Still working on the Highpass layer Click on the Layers Tab and select a new blend mode
- Select “Soft Light” or “Overlay”. Softlight usually works best.
- You will notice that the screen is no longer grey and your picture looks a bit crisper.
Now I am going to stop right here. You have probably looked back up at the title and said “I thought this tutorial was on smoothing the skin not sharpening the detail!”. Stick with me. We need to inverse the sharpening.
- Hit the shortcut “Ctrl+i”. This will now smooth out the picture instead of sharpening things
You will notice things like the skin look great. Pores and blemishes are not so apparent. Things like the eyes and the hair are not crisp enough. To resolve this we will use the color range selection tool to select mostly just the skin. To access the “color range” tool go to:
- Select Drop down
- Color Range…
- Click on the skin with the eye dropper
- Select “localized Color Clusters”
- You will need to experiment but you will most likely need to decrease your range quite a bit and the fuzziness should be about 34%.
- Click the “+ Eye Dropper” button.
- Click on the skin areas. If you are finding that it is selecting too much at a time decrease the range value.
- Make sure to only click on the skin. Do not click on the hair, eyes, mouth or the contour of the nose.
- Click on the the “- Eye Dropper”. Click on any hair or other features other then skin that might have been selected.
- Click "OK”
- There should be a selection created on the picture
- Click on the “add layer mask” button right beside the “FX Layer” button
This will have create a pretty good starting location for your mask. The next few steps will be making sure all the area’s that you don’t want softened are completely black. You might need to “whiten” the areas that might need more softening.
- Make sure you are still on the Mask of the “Soft” layer.
- Make sure that your brush colors are black and then white.
- Click on the brush tool
- Make sure that the front color is black
- Make sure that your brush opacity is at 100%
- Using your brush go over the hair and the eyes.
- Use a large brush for the hair
- Use a smaller brush for the eyes and other detail work.
- Switch the forground color to white
- Switch the opacity of the brush to 60%
- Go over the skin to make sure all of it is selected. Avoid the outer area of the nose and mouth.
- You should now have a good mask.
- Check to see if the skin is soft enough
If the skin is still not soft enough there is some other techniques you can use now that you have a good starting point.
- Click the Background layer
- Hit “Ctrl + J”
- Move the newly created layer to the top of the layers.
- Rename the newly created layer to “Soft 2”
- On “Soft 2” we need to apply the “High pass again”. See above how to do that.
- It remembers your last selection.
- Bump up the number quite a bit higher like 4.8 pixels.
- Click Ok
- Again remove saturation like we did before.
- Click “Ctrl+i” to inverse the picture.
- On the layer tab select “Blend Mode” and select “Softlight”. If you use overlay instead of “Softlight” it will make the softening even more apparent.
- While holding down “Ctrl + Alt” grab the mask from the “Soft” layer and drag it onto the the layer you were just working on.
- Both layers should now have the exact same mask layer.
- Only the skin should have the second softening effect applied to it.
I usually at this point like to group all the layers except for the original layer. To do this:
- click on “soft” layer.
- Holding down the shift key click the top most layer.
- Hit “Ctrl+G” to group them.
If the softening is too much click on the group opacity slider and take it down a bit. Play with it till you think the results are perfect.