Deke’s Techniques: Retouching photos to improve skin surface in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

This week’s free Deke’s Techniques tutorial demonstrates a classic skin-surface retouch that keeps important elements like the mouth, eyes, and other character-defining detail intact. By judiciously applying a Smart Filter blur to the skin areas that need retouching, then masking the key defining features, you can ensure your model remains authentic looking and “recognizable by her own mother” (which is one of my favorite retouching guidelines from noted Photoshop diva Katrin Eismann).


To start the retouching project, Deke begins by selecting the skin with a new feature of the Color Range command in Photoshop CS6 that allows you to automatically select skin tones. Next, you’ll deselect the eyes, mouth, and other key areas that shouldn’t be included before applying the Gaussian Blur filter. This technique doesn’t rely on exact selections, so you’ll see how Deke uses the Polygonal Lasso to select major areas of the face that should be masked from the blur. After scaling back the blur opacity to realistic levels (we all have pores, after all), you can add back in areas around the nose and eyes that add character.

Here is the before image (left) and the retouched smooth-skin version, with all the things that make a face a face still intact (right):

Photoshop portrait retouching side by side.

To finish the effect you see above in the final image, members of lynda.com should watch Deke’s member-exclusive video that shows you how to add vibrancy back to naturally discolored teeth without making them artificially white.

See you back next week with another free technique from Deke!

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8 Responses to “Deke’s Techniques: Retouching photos to improve skin surface in Photoshop”

  1. fotoclipping says:

    Your retouching task is so brilliant..Nicely distinguishing before and after photos.

  2. Jenny says:

    Deke is the master, I have several DVDs from him. love the guy.

  3. Bryan says:

    Wouldn’t it better/easier/faster in a lot of cases: to layer via copy, Gaussian blur, add a layer mask, use a paint brush to brush in the areas you want blurred…

  4. Ugh says:

    The video is private (unwatchable)?????

  5. Lally says:

    So the key is using Gaussian Blur filter. Will use that one in my next photo enhancement assignment.

  6. Md Ariful Islam says:

    Hi Deke, This is so nice. I like your tutorial.

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