Many people now do their own editing in Photoshop or other image editing software, and most of them know how to give skin a nice soft look – flaw free 🙂

Taking it one step further into the realm of high end retouching, why not be able to heal and still retain skin texture …….. well you can – perhaps you just haven’t been told 🙂

To be able to heal and retain skin texture we need to split the image into low and high frequency i.e. blurry (low) and sharp (high). I’ve done a tutorial on this, but we’ll quickly run through it again to bring you up to speed.

The image below is brought to us by Ruediger Baun over at Dreamstime Here

Open the image and duplicate it twice by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + J Turn off the top layer and click on the middle layer – rename this layer Low. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and for this image, enter an amount of 20. Turn on the top layer and click on it, so that you are working on it – rename it High. Go to Image>Apply Image choose LOW from Layer drop down box – From the blending box Choose Subtract and enter the numbers 2 for scale and 28 for offset, click OK and change the blend mode to Linear Light. For a 16 bit image choose Add from the blending box, 2 for scale and 0 for offset. Shift click on the Low and High layers and then press Ctrl + G t group the layers. Name the group Healing. Open the group and click on the layer you named High. Choose the Healing brush from the side tool bar and use a hard edged brush. Make sure you choose from different area all the time by Alt + Clicking in a good area so as not to get repeating patterns, the brush should be slightly larger than the area you are healing. Zoom in and then start to heal. In the image below I have healed over the red area on the cheek.

If you zoom in on the larger image you have been working on, you will see that the skin has retained it’s texture. You can carry on and do the rest of the face, mainly looking for larger flaws like pimples, very dark or light areas. You can lower the opacity of the group if you feel that it has taken the image too far. In the image below I have carried on a little more on the side of the face and into the nose – also a little bit under the eye on the other side of the face. I’ve left the group at 100%, but it could easily be lower to around 50%.

You could do some dodging and burning now to even out the skin tones. Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to stamp visible (make sure you on are the top most layer … the group layer in this case …. before stamping the layers) the add a new layer and fill it with white, change the blend mode to soft light, take the opacity down to 5% and Alt + Click on the Add Mask icon to hide the effect. Duplicate this layer then fill it with black. Name the white layer dodge and the black layer burn. Work on the white layer mask to dodge the darkest pixels and and then on the burn layer mask to burn the lightest pixels, using a soft edged brush. You do this to even out the skin tones.

Below is a comparison image (click through for larger image) hopefully you will be able to see where I have started to even out the skin tones with some dodging and burning. I haven’t done a great deal – Left is before, right is after.

The healing, then dodging and burning could take over 2 hours on a good image – then you’d have to start on all the other aspects of the image. Things to have handy – music and coffee 🙂 and lots and lots of practise.