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Head Games: retouching portraits > Lessening Freckles or Facial Acne

Lessening Freckles or Facial Acne

This technique is popular with senior-class portrait photographers who need to lessen or remove large areas of acne, pockmarks, or freckles. This is especially useful when you have a lot of photos to retouch (like a senior-portrait retoucher) and don’t have the time to use the methods shown previously, where you deal with each blemish individually.

Step One.
Open the photo that you need to retouch.


Step Two.
Go under the Filter menu, under Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur. When the Gaussian Blur dialog appears, drag the slider all the way to the left, and then drag it slowly to the right until you see the freckles (or acne) blurred away. The photo should look very blurry, but we’ll fix that in just a minute, so don’t let that throw you off—make sure it’s blurry enough that the freckles are no longer visible, and then click OK.

Step Three.
Go under the Window menu and choose History to bring up the History palette. This palette keeps track of the last 20 things you’ve done in Photoshop. If you look in the list of steps (called “History States”), you should see two States: The first will read “Open” (this is when you opened the document), and the second will read “Gaussian Blur” (this is where you added the blur).

Step Four.
Click on the Open State to return your photo to what it looked like when you originally opened it (as shown here). The History palette also works in conjunction with a tool in the Toolbox called the History Brush. When you paint with it, by default, it paints back to what the photo looked like when you opened it. It’s like “Undo on a brush.” That can be very handy, but the real power of the History Brush is that you can have it paint from a different state. You’ll see what I mean in the next step.

Step Five.
In the History palette, click in the first column next to the State named “Gaussian Blur.” If you painted with the History Brush now, it would paint in what the photo looked like after you blurred it (which would do us no good), but we’re about to fix that.

Step Six.
To keep from simply painting in a blurry version of our photo, go up to the Options bar and change the History Brush’s Blend Mode to Lighten. Now when you paint, it affects only the pixels that are darker than the blurred state. Ahhh, do you see where this is going? Now, you can take the History Brush and paint over the acne areas, and as you paint, you’ll see them diminish quite a bit (as shown below). If they diminish too much, and the person looks “too clean,” press Command-Z (PC: Control-Z) to undo your History Brush strokes, then go up to the Options bar and lower the Opacity of the brush to 50% and try again.





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