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Photoshop Pro: How To Retouch Portraits

This Photoshop tutorial unveils a collection of must-know simple techniques that photo re-touchers often use to enhance portraits including retouching the hair, skin, eyes, teeth and on improving the image’s lighting and contrast.

Before we even begin, always keep in mind: Duplicate a new layer for each effect and never attempt to flatten your image unless you have completed the whole task!

By doing so, you’ll safe-guard your original image and can always return to the original image as and when.

Let’s begin by opening the image file and pressing CTRL+J/CMD+J to duplicate a new layer.

Original Image – Image ID: 741908, © Phil Date

1) Hair

Use the Healing Brush Tool (press J) and select an appropriate brush size from the menu.

Begin removing excess hair. Once done, press CTRL+E/CMD+E to merge layers. *Switch between Healing Brush Tool and Stamp Tool (press S) to achieve better results.

2) Under-eye Circles and Wrinkles

Press CTRL+J/CMD+J to duplicate a new layer.

Select the Healing Brush Tool (press J) and start brushing the spot that you want to correct. *Switch between Healing Brush Tool and Stamp Tool (press S) to achieve better results.

After that, reduce the opacity level to 55% in order to get a natural effect. Press CTRL+E/CMD+E to merge layers. 3) Teeth Press CTRL+J/CMD+J to duplicate a new layer. Go to Layers Palette > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation.

With the Hue/Saturation dialog box opened, select Yellows from the list (this is to alter the level of yellow in the image).

Drag the Lightness slider all the way to the right (in this case +88 is the right level) to lighten and whiten the teeth. You’ll notice that the image is now brighter.

Press CTRL+I/CMD+I to invert the layer mask (Note: Once the layer is inverted, it will look as if we’ve undone all the work on the model’s teeth.).

Next, use the Brush Tool (press B) to brush over the teeth and to automatically reveal a set of whitened and brightened teeth!

Or press | to view masking area. It will help you in your brushing effort. Press CTRL+E/CMD+E to merge layers once you are done. 4) Hair

Press CTRL+J/CMD+J to duplicate a new layer. Fill it with any color that you wish to apply on the model’s hair. I personally like the model to have red highlights!

Go to your Layers Palette and change the mood from Normal to Color.

Then set the Opacity to 50% (Feel free to experiment with different opacity level).

Press CTRL+I/CMD+I to invert the layer mask in black.

Start brushing the areas that you want to highlight. (You can always alter the brush size and softness according to your requirement by clicking on the menu)

5) Eyes

You may also color the eyes area (like eyeshadow) to match the hair color. Select Brush Tool (press B) and start coloring both eyes.

Accentuate the model’s eyes by brightening the sclera. Go to Layers Palette > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness and Contrast


After this, press CTRL+I/CMD+I to invert the layer mask. Select the Brush tool once again (press B) and brighten the scleroses. Do the same with the other eye.

6) Lips You can also change the model’s lip color to match the hair highlights and eyeshadow. As usual, go to Layers Palette > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color.

Feel free to experience with the color of your choice to create different moods.

Next, invert the layer mask (CTRL+I/CMD+I) and use the Brush Tool (press B) again to reveal the lips color. CTRL+E/CMD+E when you are done.

 7) Lighting and Contrasts Seen here, the model’s forehead is quite dark. This can be fix by applying some lighting and contrast.

Use the Lasso Tool (press L) to select the forehead area.

Then go Select > Feather > Feather Radius: 30 pixel (to soften the edges of the selection).

Now, use Curve (Layers Palette > New Adjustment Layer > Select Curve) to adjust the entire image’s lighting and contrast. 8) Image Sharpening  When you are all done with the image, apply High Pass Filter to sharpen the image.CTRL+J/CMD+J to duplicate a new layer.

Go to Filter > Other > High Pass > Value: 7.0 pixels

Then go to Layers Palette > Soft Light. Select a level of sharpening that seems best to you.

Now you should have a more out-standing and clean image as compared to the original file! But do bear in mind, never overdo any images!

Before & After 


Remember these shortcuts! They will save you more time, encourage you to change your brush more often and gives your better results!Shortcut KeyFunction[Decrease brush size]Increase brush sizeShift + [Decrease brush hardnessShift + ]Increase brush hardness

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