photo retouching tutorial

Portrait retouching can be accomplished by using many different methods, and various software and plugins designed especially for that purpose. This article is meant to give you a Photoshop option for retouching and enhancing your portrait photography.

Today I’m going to give you a quick tutorial on portraits retouching in Photoshop. There are many different ways to retouch and you can spend hours on a single photo to get it perfect. This post is meant to show you how to clean up an already good image in just a few minutes without altering the way your subject really looks.

Let’s get started.


When it comes to removing blemishes and lines, four tools are essential – the Spot Healing brush, Healing brush, Patch and Clone Stamp tools. The Spot Healing brush is good for spot removal if the spots are over clear areas. The Healing brush is similar, but you define the source by Alt-clicking. The Patch tool enables you to drag a selection to tidy up the detail within, so it’s good for removing irregular shaped marks. The Clone Stamp tool also requires an Alt-click to define a source. Used at a low opacity of about 20%, it’s good at softening areas while still leaving detail.


Dodging and burning is probably the most important part of your workflow. It’s the hardest to master but also the most rewarding. The tools and methods you use to dodge and burn is simple and actually isn’t important. Understanding where and how much to dodge and burn is the key to success here. Again, there are dozens of ways to dodging and burning, so don’t get hung up on the tools to use. Concentrate on understanding where to do it and how much. Just follow the techniques used by makeup artists. They understand this best.


Eyes are the focal point of any portrait, so it makes sense to give them a lift. For piercingly beautiful eyes, the Adjustment Brush within the Camera Raw plugins (and for CC users, the new Camera Raw filter) is ideal. It enables you to make quick selective adjustments by painting over areas. A few strokes over the iris followed by a boost in Exposure, Saturation and Clarity is usually all that’s needed. If you want to take it further, try darkening the pupil and the edges of the iris, and lightening the whites a little
in the corners.


Before you move on take note: If you aren’t happy with you image at this point then the toning portion will not change how you feel about the image. The toning will never completely change a photo and a lot of people out there blame their lack of post production skill on the toning portion. Toning will only add a little bit to an already solid image. Before we jump into toning the key thing to keep in mind is toning is not about throwing on random colors and filters. This might work one out of 20x. If you want to nailing the toning portion you need to have a clear understanding for complementary colors. This goes beyond toning though. It’s critical to keep this in mind when picking wardrobe and location.


To fix yellow teeth, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, then select Yellows from the color drop-down menu. Knock back the saturation of the yellows, then switch the menu back to Master and increase the lightness slightly. We only want the adjustment to appear over the teeth, so hit Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert the layer’s mask to black. Grab the brush tool, set the color to white and paint precisely over the teeth to reveal the teeth-whitening layer.


Under the Filters menu, find Gaussian Blur. Apply this filter to your duplicate layer so the image is only slightly blurry, add a layer mask and then invert the mask so that you can’t see the blurred layer anymore. Now, use the Brush tool (up to 50-100% opacity) to mask in just the skin. This leaves the skin slightly blurry, a softening effect, while the eyes, mouth and hair remain sharp


Use the Smart Sharpen filter to give your image a little extra pop. The amount of sharpening you apply depends on whether you are using the image for print or the Web and at what size you are publishing it.

Today’s designers and photographers need to have a varied skill. One common skill that both can use is portraits retouching. There is an innumerable amount of articles and tutorials teaching parts and pieces of portraits retouching. However, finding the ones with quality techniques and information can take days. Furthermore, there is no singular tutorial that teaches a complete set of methods to retouch portraits free of charge.Hope this tutorial will make you a more effective retoucher and help keep your portraits looking clean and realistic.

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