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Head Games: retouching portraits > Glamour Skin Softening

Glamour Skin Softening

This is another technique I learned from Chicago-based retoucher David Cuerdon. David uses this technique in fashion and glamour photography to give skin a smooth, silky feel.

Step One.
Open the photo that you want to give the glamour skin-softening effect and duplicate the Background layer. The quickest way to duplicate a layer is to press Command-J (PC: Control-J).


Step Two.
Go under the Filter menu, under Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur. When the dialog appears, enter between 3 and 6 pixels of blur (depending on how soft you want the skin), to put a blur over the entire photo.

Step Three.
Lower the Opacity of this layer by 50% (as shown here). At this point, the blurring effect is reduced, and now the photo has a soft glow to it. You may want to stop here, with an overall soft, glamorous effect (used often in portraits of senior citizens). However, if this is too much softening for your subject, go on to the next step, which lets you selectively bring back detail in the facial areas that would have detail.

Step Four.
Switch to the Eraser tool, choose a soft-edged brush, and erase over the facial areas that are supposed to have sharp detail (her eyes, eyebrows, lips, and teeth) thereby revealing the original features on the layer beneath your blurry layer. David completes his retouch here, leaving the subject’s clothes, hair, background, etc. with the soft glow. I prefer to switch to a larger soft-edge Eraser tool and erase over everything else in the photo (hair, background, etc.) except her skin. The final image is shown below.





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