Photoshop Tutorial – Beauty Retouching

I actually recorded this tutorial over a week ago, so I apoligise in the delay in getting it posted!  Since I started offering photography training, a lot of people have asked about how I work with Photoshop, and I started making these tutorial videos.  After my first one, I asked people to let me know what they would like to see next.  The most common answer was beauty retouching.  Beauty retouching isn’t something I am going to claim to be an expert on, far from it in fact.  However, I have watched enough tutorials and learned enough about it that I felt comfortable doing one.


Beauty Enhancement:

As you will see in the video, the first thing that I always do with a portrait is enhance their appearance.  This doesn’t mean change their appearance, but enhance it!  Add a little contrast to the eyes, whiten the eyes and teeth and remove and temporary blemishes.  Some people will still baulk at the idea of removing blemishes, but this is also why I used the word temporary.  I will not remove anything permanent from a person (moles, freckles, and scars) unless specifically asked to.  However, people always have temporary skin blemishes and I will remove those.


You will see in the video that this entire process is extremely easy, it’s one of those things that people either just never knew how to do or never thought to do.  This is especially true with adding contrast to the eyes, it really makes a world of difference and is extremely east to do.


Skin Smoothing:

What do I mean by skin smoothing?  Essentially what you are trying to achieve here is a smooth blend of the different tones on the skin.  The unevenness can be from many different things.  Makeup may not be blended as well as it should be.  Lighting might not be even.  Or the person has flushed skin.  No matter what the reason is, smoothing these tones is another part of retouching that can make a world of difference.  To me, this is not altering a person’s appearance, but enhancing their beauty.  There are those that advocate we shouldn’t retouch at all, and I will have to disagree.  I am being paid to take beautiful photos of someone and I will enhance their beauty and make them look the best they ever have, without it not looking like themselves.  That, to me, is when it becomes an issue.


With skin smoothing, I use a variation on a method known as “frequency separation”.  There are many variations on this technique, but it is hands down the best method for smoothing skin tones.  It will smooth out the tones, but it will keep the detail in the skin (pores).  Other methods such as blurring will lose the detail and will also make the skin look fake.


Dodging and Burning:

Another controversial subject and incorrect dodging and burning CAN alter a person’s appearance dramatically.  Again, I use dodging and burning to enhance, not change.  My dodging and burning is subtle and I use it to slightly sculpt the face, and to also bring out highlights in the hair and face.  In my opinion, good dodging and burning is the hardest part of beauty retouching.  I still have a lot to learn in this department, but what I currently use it for is subtle.


The Tutorial:






I know the video was long, and there was a lot of information dumped on you during that time.  So if you have any questions, please leave them below and I will be more than happy to help.


Anyone have any requests for upcoming tutorials?  I have the next two lined up, but am always wanting to do videos that people have requested first.  😀