So, you’ve got a portrait that’s looking pretty good.
The composition and framing are spot-on.
The lighting is perfect.
But the model’s skin is…not perfect.
Fortunately, you can make their skin look perfect with an easy Photoshop trick!
Step 1: Make a Selection
After you open your image in Photoshop CC, you need to make a selection of your subject’s skin.
There are several ways to do this, but perhaps the most straightforward is to use the quick selection tool to drag over the model’s skin and select it all at once, as shown in the screenshot above.
Then, to remove areas of the selection, click Alt or Option as you drag over the area.
For example, you might eliminate the model’s ears from the selection, given that most blemishes will be directly on the face.
Next, refine the edge of the selection by going to Select > Refine Edge.
In the corresponding dialog box, check Smart Radius and move the radius slider to the right to increase it.
Then brush over the areas of the model’s face where any hair overlaps the skin. Next, output the selection as a New Layer with Layer Mask.
Step 2: Work on the Blemishes
Now that you have a layer with a layer mask, go to the Layers Panel and click the box next to the original image such that it’s visible.
Then go to Filter > Blur > Surface Blur.
In the corresponding dialog box, manipulate the Radius and Threshold values such that they smooth out the skin of your model.
The exact values you use will depend on your specific image, so do a little experimentation until you see positive results.
The goal here is to be sparing in the adjustments you make. All you want to do is blur the skin just enough to hide most blemishes.
Step 3: Restore Areas You Don’t Want to be Smoothed Out
Recall that we made a selection that includes the entire face.
But we only want the skin to be blurred out – not the eyes and lips, for example.
To exclude them from the work we did in Step 2, click the Layer Mask we created in the Layers Panel to make it active.
Next, select the Brush Tool from the toolbox, and open the Brush Picker.
Make the hardness zero percent and adjust the opacity and flow to 100 percent.
Place the brush over the area of the face you wish to exclude from the selection.
Using the left or right brackets on your keyboard, make the brush larger or smaller to accommodate the facial feature you’ll be working on.
Then simply brush over the features you wish to return to their original state.
Step 4: Work on Pores
If your model has pores that are still visible even after blurring, you’ll need to do some additional work to smooth them out.
First, make the face layer active by clicking on it in the Layers Panel.
Then open the Blur Tool from the toolbox.
Next, make the Blur Tool’s strength 100 percent and adjust its size as needed, again using the left or right brackets on your keyboard to do so.
Lastly, brush over the area to blur the pores until the area looks nice and smooth.
Step 5: Remove Spots
If you find that there are freckles, scars, blemish spots, or other blemishes you wish to remove, you can use the Spot Healing Brush tool.
Select the tool from the toolbox, then at the top of the screen, ensure that the Content Aware Button is checked.
Adjust the size of the tool such that it’s slightly larger than the blemish you wish to remove. Then simply brush over the blemish to remove it.
Follow the same procedure for any other blemishes you want to disappear.
Step 6: Add Noise
To tone down the blurriness of the skin and make it look a little more realistic, you need to add noise.
To do so, go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. In the corresponding dialog box, click Gaussian and Monochromatic.
Then, use the slider to add noise. The goal is to add an amount of noise that corresponds to the level of noise in the unworked areas of the image.
The amount of noise you need to add will depend on the size and resolution of your photo, so do a little experimentation until you’ve achieved the right look.
In looking at the comparison of the original image and the final image above, you can see that the model’s skin now looks much better, but without looking like it’s been worked on in Photoshop.
When working on images like this, the point is to make gentle touch ups that improve the look of the shot. Generally, the idea is not to make the person look unrecognizable!
This easy Photoshop method can be used for any type of skin, on any model, of any age. And the best part? It doesn’t take but a few minutes to master!