Back to Part 1.
3) Let’s work on the lips now. I don’t like the lipstick color used by the make-up artist, it doesn’t look nice on photos (but looked swell in real-life), so I’ll change the shade of the lipstick.
Here I used the Color Balance tool to shift the color of her lipstick to a more lustrous shade. Rename the layer to “Lip Color”. Invert the white layer mask to black (CTRL-I) and use a soft, white brush to reveal the lips only.
4) I like the color now, but I want some more gloss on her lips. To increase the gloss on lips, it’s crucial to look at where the catch light is positioned on the original image. In this case, the light is pretty frontal and soft, so we have a lot of highlight areas we can copy from.
Create a new blank layer and name it “Lip Gloss”. Then select the Brush tool to paint in the new gloss patterns. You can also use the Clone tool, if desired.
We need to sample the existing highlight’s color to use as a brush color. Since I’m already using the Brush tool, I can simply hold the ALT key and click on the areas I want to sample to automatically choose that shade of color (in this case, a pinkish-white color). I sampled from different areas around the lip, seen below.
Start ‘dabbing’ the brush pattern along existing highlight areas. You can add more sheen on areas that are dull but sampling a highlight area near the dull area. I chose to add a thin line of ‘gloss’ near the upper and lip lines as well.
Do note that the highlight should gradually be less intense as it moves farther away from the main catch light.
5) Next, I need to make the brush strokes less obvious. I can quickly do that by applying some Gaussian Blur on the new gloss layer.
6) Change the Lip Gloss layer’s Blend Mode to Screen. Then reduce Opacity to taste, here I used 35%.
Now the lips are naturally glossier. Again, group the Lip Color and the Lip Gloss layers and rename to “Lips”.
7) While working on the lips, I noticed something that I didn’t see during my planning phase. The teeth actually have lipstick smears on them!
Create a new blank layer and name it ‘Teeth’, then use the Clone tool to sample the whitish-areas of the teeth to clone over the pinkish shades.
8 ) Now the eyes. Many prefer using dodge and burn tools but I personally prefer Curves as it offers me more control after-the-fact.
I’ll be using two Curves layers at for the eyes, no adjustments on the actual curve values are required.
First layer is to brighten the iris (colored area of the eyes) and tear ducts (change layer name to ‘iris). Change the layer’s blending mode to “Screen”.
Add another Curves layer to darken the pupils around the iris (change layer name to ‘Pupils’). Change the layer’s blending mode to “Multiply”.
Invert (CTRL-I) each of the white layer masks to black layer mask on both layers.
9) To brighten the iris, use a hard-edge white brush to brush around the irises on the ‘Iris’ layer. Don’t forget to brighten up the tear ducts and the areas where the lower eyelid meets the eyeball (where your tears usually pool before it drips).
To darken the pupil and the black ring surrounding the iris, use the same white brush and paint over the ‘Pupils’ layer.
10) The results are OK, but too obvious that a brush was used. By blurring the MASK of these two layers, the effect is softened. Click on the black mask of the ‘Iris’ layer and apply some Gaussian Blur on the mask to soften the edges. Do the same with the ‘Pupils’ layer. The amount of blur used depends on the image’s resolution, use the Preview to see the effect before applying.
Here are how the eyes appear after the treatment.
Group the two Curves adjustment layers and rename the group to “Eyes”.
11) Next order of business are the stray hair strands appearing around the face of the model. Luckily, there aren’t too many and this tutorial concentrates more on the face, so I won’t touch the stray hairs on the actual head.
Create a new blank layer and rename it to ‘Hair Strands’. Use the Spot Healing Brush tool again to carefully brush over the loose strands of hair that extended onto the subject’s face.
After careful healing, the image above shows a much neater face.
12) I want to add more contrast on the hair itself. I can do this again with a Curves layer. Add a Curves Adjustment layer, rename it to ‘Curves Hair’ (no adjustments necessary), then change the layer blending mode to ‘Soft Light’ (Overlay can also be used for more contrast).
Adjust Opacity as desired.
Invert (CTRL-I) the white mask to a black mask and use a white brush to paint over the hair areas only. Zoom in close for the loose hair strands.
13) Whenever a viewer looks at a portrait. The focal point should almost always be the eyes and the lips. The eyes form the base of an inverted triangle, while the lips serve as the tip. When the nostrils are too dark or have too much contrast against the skin, this breaks the triangle pattern for the viewer. In order to restore the inverted triangle geometry, we need to reduce the contrast of the nostrils.
Create a new blank layer and rename the layer to ‘Nostril’.
Grab the Healing (not Spot Healing) brush and sample a patch of skin near the nostril (the bridge of the nose will do) and start healing over the entire nostril.
14) After suffocating the subject by removing her nostrils, reduce the opacity of the layer to reduce the contrast of the nostrils.
In this case, 20% is just about right. It doesn’t seem like much, but try viewing the entire image again with and without this adjustment, the viewers’ eyes will ‘skip’ the nose area the resulting image will have more impact due to the prominence of the eyes and lips in relation to the rest of the face.
15) At this point, I want to make her dress more vibrant by making it darker. I also want the dress’ reflective surface to be shinier. Again, Curves to the rescue.
Add a Curves adjustment layer and change the name of the layer to ‘Dress’. Create a gentle ‘S’-curve to add more contrast to the dress.
Invert the white layer mask to black (CTRL-I) and reveal the dress only with a soft, white brush.
16) The background light is uneven, with the right side brighter than the left. I can match the two sides by using a Curves adjustment layer and masking off the rest of the image to reveal only the darker upper left corner of the background.
17) Now for the final touches. I want to give the skin a soft-powdery feel without losing all the texture-retaining retouching that I did earlier. First, I need to merge everything I did to a new layer by pressing CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E. This will combine all visible layers and makes it the active layer.
Create a duplicate of this newly merged layer. (There should be two merged layers on top of the Layers palette, at this point).
Rename the top-most layer to “Darken”, change the Blend Mode to ‘Darken’ as well. For the lower layer, rename it to “Lighten” and change the Blend Mode to ‘Lighten’.
18) On the ‘Lighten’ layer, apply a Gaussian Blur setting of approximately your camera’s megapixel count. In this case, I applied “10px”.
19) On the ‘Darken’ layer, apply approximately half the strength of Gaussian Blur applied on the ‘Lighten’ layer, in this case, “5px”.
20) Select both ‘Darken’ and ‘Lighten’ layers and rename the group to ‘Soft Skin’. Add a ‘Hide All’ black mask again and use a white brush to paint over the skin areas, carefully avoiding the hairline, eyes, eyebrows, nostrils, lips, jaw line, collar bone, and the dress.
21) Sharpen as necessary. Preferably only on the eyes, lips, dress, jawline and hair. I won’t discuss sharpening here as I use different sharpening techniques depending on image and output use.
The process is complete!
The small, web-sized image doesn’t show a lot of details on the skin, but under close scrutiny, the skin details are still present and the results appear like a thin sheen of make-up powder is applied on clear skin rather than pouring liquid wax on someone’s face.
(Note that the black dots are caused by faulty animated gif software rendering, it is not visible in the actual jpeg)
Referring back to the original checklist, the following changes were made (teeth not listed).
Here’s our before and after comparison.
I hope you found this long tutorial useful. Feel free to ask me if anything’s unclear using the comment box below.