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Chapter 4. Retouching Techniques > Problem : Solution Remove lines and wrinkles

Problem : Solution Remove lines and wrinkles

Problem: Portrait subject has lines and wrinkles.

Solution: Add a soft focus effect.

In our world of precise pixels, there may be times when you really don't want to capture an image with sharp edges. You may prefer not to show those little wrinkles beginning to appear around a subject's eyes. Or you might want to give the image a romantic sort of look. Whatever the reason, adding a soft focus effect to a digital image can help give the photo more visual appeal. And with Photoshop, it's a simple process. Like everything else in Photoshop, there are several ways to achieve similar effects. In this article, we'll show you how to take a standard photo and make it more appealing by adding a soft focus effect to it within Photoshop.

Soft focus the easy way

First, select a suitable image for this effect—after all, not all images look good with a soft focus. The effect works best with close-up nature shots and portraits. For our example, we'll use a model shot

Open your image in Photoshop and double-click on the Background layer in the Layers palette to move it to a working layer.

Name the layer Original and then drag the layer onto the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette to create a duplicate layer.

Select the new layer and then choose Filter ▸ Blur ▸ Gaussian Blur and set the radius to a variable between 4 and 10, depending on the image. For our image, we used 4.5. Obviously, this is taking the soft focus effect a bit too far, but we can quickly alter it. Click OK.

Choose Layer ▸ Layer Style ▸ Blending Options and select the Lighten option from the Blending Mode dropdown list.

Choose Merge Down from the Layers palette's pop-up menu when you're done with the image to make the image permanent.

Go softly

In a world where everyone wants more megapixels to get crisp, sharp images, a well-applied soft focus can make all the difference in the overall appearance of a photo. With Photoshop, it isn't only easy to do, it's a little fun as well. And we think you—and your subject—will like the results.


You might also try using the Darken blending mode option instead of Lighten. Doing so gives you a totally different effect, making the lines in the image look more hand-drawn and the color more painted.

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