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How I did it {retouching skin in Lightroom}

Yesterday I showed you this studio headshot B&A:

I get such a rush out of these types of edits. The transformation can be so dramatic and looking at it B&A is phenomenal. I did this edit in both LR and PSE which can be downloaded for 30 days for free {here}.

I started this process in LR. In the tools section on the top right is an adjustment brush:

When you click it, the brush options drop down:

This is where almost the whole edit takes place. Click ‘new’ to start a new brush. I started with the hair. The drop down menu you see above which says ‘exposure’ is where you click to see the different settings for certain effects. For her hair, I chose the ‘contrast’ brush. I slid the sliders to bring up the contrast and also the ‘clarity’ right up to the maximum and increase the sharpness a tad. Make sure that the ‘auto mask’ option is clicked. This will make it so that the edge of the brush falling onto other areas won’t affect those areas. To paint with an auto mast brush, just make sure that the crosshairs in the middle of the brush remain only touching the areas on which you intend to paint.

Take a look at this. The left side of her hair is where I’ve painted you can see the difference:

When you’re happy with that, you can start a new brush by clicking again in the ‘effect’ drop-down and choose the ‘soften skin’ brush. This brush works it’s magic by taking down the clarity all the way so make sure that you only brush over the skin and avoid lips, eyes, glasses, etc. The default skin softening brush can make skin look dull so I adjust the brightness slider just a teeny weeny bit up to +7 to brighten the skin.

If you want to verify that you’ve hit all the areas you intended, you move your mouse over the little dot which represents the brush you’re wondering about and it will light-up the area you touched with the brush like this:

Next, click new brush again and this time, we’re using an itty bitty brush to darken the eyeliner and lashes. See below for the slider settings I used for the lashes.

After painting the eyeliner and lashes, I did yet another brush for the irises. This one makes adjustments to the clarity, sharpness and contrast and here is the after:

A couple tips about using the brush: 1.} To edit a brush you did previously, click the little circle which represents that brush and you can change the sliders and watch it make changes to your work. and 2.} My favourite thing to do it continuously type the \ key because that gives you a before/after toggle. Just keep clicking it for editing ecstasy.

Zoom back out on the image and now we’ll tweak the coat with a brush that pumps up the contrast and clarity a bit.

Next, to erase the blemishes. Click the spot removal brush and adjust the brush size. Click the blemish you want to erase and suddenly, a second circle pops out next to it. If you’re happy with the replacement area inside the circle, go on to click the next blemish. If it’s not a good match, then click and drag the second circle to a better area until the replacement is perfect. In this way, erase all the blemishes. And this is the finished work we’ve done in LR:

Now export that image and open it in PSE. I used the healing brush tool to erase the missing white background area on the right. Holt alt and click an area that is appropriate just next to where we will be painting and then start brushing over the white.

Then in the layers pallette on the right, click the ‘background’ image and click duplicate layer.

Just above in the drop down menu, choose the soft light blend mode. And slide the slider down to around 60%. Click the visibility button to the left of the layers to see the effect of turning the layer on and off.

And that’s it! Here again is the after:

  • http://www.emmymom2.blogspot.com Emmy

    Once again an amazing transformation and awesome instructions!! Thank you.

  • http://www.bombedier.blogspot.com Laura

    I need to start playing with LR – I am too used to staying in my comfort zone with PS.

  • http://sara.typepad.com Sara

    It’s amazing… I have been doing similar retouching without the same success. Your detail instructions are full of little tips and trick. I’m very excited to try again!!! I’m really enjoy your website. Thank you.

  • http://redjuscrap.blogspot.com/ Redju

    Wow! Really awesome tut! I’ve never used lightroom before so I didn’t know you could do things like that. The result is amazing!

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/adrianahg/ Adriana HG

    OH MY GOD what a great tutorial THANKS a LOT! Very useful for us begginers!!! =) I love your photography, I currently live in Spain but when I go to the UK I’ll stop by to say hello =)

    Thanks a lot again for taking the time to do this for us!!


  • Jorge Mafud

    Hello there… great tutorial… I have a question… after doing the retouching in Lr and then going to Ps…. after you save you image in Ps, does that new version automatically come back to Lr… I mean, will I have the final version back in Lr?

    Thanks a lot!


  • elizabethhalford

    @Jorge: More about that here: http://bit.ly/csMfvB

  • Yash

    Very nice tutorial…

  • Onarom

    Another tip is hitting the letter “o” on your keyboard which will light-up your overlay as you paint. This is hard to explain in words, so just give it a try to see what I am talking about

  • Anonymous

    Oh great tip thank you!