Wondering how to retouch skin in Photoshop? Learn all about Frequency Separation in Photoshop and how to use this and more techniques to retouch skin and hair in this Photoshop retouching course.
Watch the Full Photoshop Retouching for Beginners Course
What You'll Learn
- What are the most common Photoshop retouching techniques?
- What are some retouching tools in Photoshop?
- What is frequency separation in Photoshop?
- How to do frequency separation in Photoshop
- How to dodge and burn in Photoshop
- How to retouch skin in Photoshop
- How to retouch hair in Photoshop
- How to retouch makeup in Photoshop
About Your Instructor
I’m a mixed media artist and freelancer with over ten years of experience in digital art. I love to take fashion-forward modern-day photography and transform it into the unusual and macabre.
In the last five years of my career, I have found a passion for sharing my knowledge and creating educational content, showing that anyone can be a successful artist no matter your preferred genre!
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Introduction to the Course
Photo retouching in Photoshop has a lot of applications, and it's definitely not limited to high-fashion photography. I'll teach you how to use retouching tools in Photoshop like Frequency Separation, Dodge and Burn and more to enhance all types of images. Let's go!
1. How to Retouch Skin in Photoshop
We'll cover two main skin retouching Photoshop techniques: Frequency Separation and Dodge and Burn. I'll explain everything in detail further on, but here's what you need to keep in mind about them:
1.1 What Is Frequency Separation in Photoshop?
Watch video lesson (4 mins)
The first technique to learn photo retouching in Photoshop is Frequency Separation. But what exactly is this?
Let's learn how to do frequency separation in Photoshop by first separating the subject into layers. At the same time, we'll be recording an action to instantly reapply the process to other images.
Watch the full Photoshop skin retouching lesson to follow the steps. If you need a detailed tutorial on how to create a frequency separation action, this tutorial is for you:
1.2 How to Use Frequency Separation in Photoshop
Now that we've set up the Frequency Separation layer group, it's time to do skin retouching in Photoshop. I usually start with the high frequency layer, but there's no set order, and we'll also be jumping back and forth between the layers.
In this lesson, we'll learn about the advantages and disadvantages of retouching tools in Photoshop like the Spot Healing Brush, the Clone Stamp Tool, the Mixer Brush, and more.
1.3 How to Dodge and Burn in Photoshop
Next up, we'll move on to another popular and useful Photoshop skin retouching technique: Dodge and Burn. What exactly does this mean?
To learn this Photoshop skin retouching technique, first we'll amplify the highlights and shadows on the subject. This way, we'll be able to Dodge the overly dark patches and Burn the overly light patches using Curve Adjustments Layers and a brush.
2. How to Retouch Hair in Photoshop
Now that we've covered the basics of skin retouching in Photoshop, we'll move on to hair. We'll use the techniques and tools we covered in the skin retouching Photoshop lesson, and I'll teach you how to apply them to hair, starting with the pesky flyaway hairs.
2.1 How to Clean Up Hair in Photoshop
To tidy up hair, I use two main retouching tools in Photoshop:
- The Spot Healing Brush does an amazing job with stray hairs. However, my tip here is to not try to erase a single hair in a single stroke as this will create odd pixels—instead, do this process slowly.
- The second tool I use is the Clone Stamp Tool, which works great on areas with lots of close-together hair strands.
To remove hair strands from the face, use the Frequency Separation technique the same way you'd remove a wrinkle.
2.2 How to Retouch Facial Hair in Photoshop
Now, we'll move on to hair on the face, such as beards and mustaches. While there are a few techniques to retouch it, I recommend looking at the facial hair as a whole, particularly around the cheeks.
3 Quick Tips on Retouching Facial Hair
To clean up facial hair, I like to use the Spot Healing Brush the same way I'd clean flyaway hairs; we just need to zoom in closer.
Use Frequency Separation for extra dark and long hairs, choosing the Clone Stamp on the high frequency layer to treat that hair as a blemish.
To make a beard look fuller, we'll use the Dodge and Burn technique.
2.3 How to Add Shine to Hair in Photoshop
The next step for retouching hair in Photoshop is adding a nice, healthy shine to it using a hair brush that we'll create from scratch. Then, we'll create two curve layers, one to brighten and the other to darken, and we'll adjust the layers with Blend If settings.
Once we finish setting up Blend If, all that's left is to do is paint on the highlights using the Dodge layer masks and paint the shadows using the Burn layer.
2.4 How to Change the Hair Color in Photoshop
The final lesson on retouching hair in Photoshop is how to adjust the color. We'll go over two methods to change the hair color: one that requires us to extract hair and one that doesn't.
To extract hair, first we'll duplicate the subject and then we'll focus on extracting the hair on the duplicate layer. I recommend the Refine Edge tool for extracting hair. The end result should look like a wig.
Next up, we'll create and clip a hue saturation layer into the wig layer. The hue layer lets you easily choose another color for the hair. And if you need to refine some areas, you can use the hair brush we've made to refine the mask.
We'll just use layer modes and a soft touch. First, create a new layer and set it to color. Choose the color you'd like to use and use a soft brush set to a flow rate of 10%. Now just brush over the hair, slowly building up the color.
If you'd like to learn more about working with hair in Photoshop, here are a couple of useful videos:
3. How to Retouch Makeup in Photoshop
We've learned how to retouch skin and hair. Let's continue with photo retouching in Photoshop and move on to makeup, the last part of this photo retouching course.
3.1 How to Sharpen and Clean Up Makeup in Photoshop
We'll start by learning to create clean, sharp eye makeup with the two tools we've used the most: the Spot Healing Brush and the Clone Stamp.
3 Quick Tips on Cleaning Up and Sharpening the Eye Area
To clean up the eyebrows, use the spot healing brush to remove any single strands of hair. Additionally, you can use the clone stamp clean the edge of the brow.
For eye makeup, you can use the clone stamp as we just did to clean up and sharpen the eyeliner.
If you find some red veins in the eye and you want to clean them up, the healing brush is your best tool.
3.2 How to Add Intensity and Shine in Photoshop
Now we're going to look at how to intensify makeup and facial features, since makeup usually photographs a little dull and can lack a visual punch!
For this, we'll use the Dodge and Burn technique to intensify the eyebrow area. Let's create the curve layers, one dark and one light. We'll use a soft brush to fill thin areas of the eyebrow in the Burn layer. You can also create a sharper eyebrow by slightly dodging its edges and lightening the area in the Dodge layer.
The lip retouching works in the same way. We'll dodge the edges to give them clean, sharp edges, while burning the color to make it darker and more prominent.
To add shine to the eyes, first we'll whiten the area surrounding the iris to make it clearer and brighter. We'll do this with a vibrance adjustment layer and a soft brush.
Next up, we'll move on to the iris, and we'll need new Dodge and Burn curve layers. This time, we'll change the Burn curve to a color Burn, and the Dodge curve to a color Dodge. This way, we can Burn the dark spots of the eyes and then Dodge the highlights using the layer masks of each curve.
To enhance the eye makeup, we'll create two more dodge and burn layers in their own group and then dodge the highlights and burn the shadows of the makeup.
3.3 How to Enhance Contour and Blush in Photoshop
Once you've done some skin retouching, you can always go back with one final pass of dodging and burning, but this will be specifically for contouring the face.
As always, we'll first set up a new and separate group of dodge and burn layers. We'll use a soft brush set to a flow rate of 1% to bring out the highlights and deepen the shadows.
3 Tips to Keep in Mind While Contouring in Photoshop
- Use a large brush size for general contouring and shrink the brush size to hit precise highlights and shadows. Using overly large brushes can result in removing the structure of the face, making everything formless.
- Also, candid pictures won't need too much contouring retouching. On the other hand, a high-fashion studio shot can take more contouring if you're after a dramatic effect.
- Always retain the subject's original skin tone and be careful to not lighten or darken it too much.
Blush is the secret to healthy-looking skin, so don't be afraid to add some life to the portrait. And it's really easy to add blush!
We'll create a new layer and set it to Multiply, and then we'll pick a blush color. Choose a color that's not too saturated, as the multiply layer will darken and saturate any color placed on it.
With a soft brush on a 1% flow, we'll paint some blush on the cheeks and temples, and if you wish, add a touch on the nose and chin as well.
To make your blush look more natural and less flat, here's what you need to do. Double-click on the blush layer to open the Layer Style settings. We'll shift the left half of the left toggle in Blend If inwards.
This removes the blush from the highest highlights of the face, making it look dewy and natural. However, the Blend If settings will always vary depending on your subject's photo.
3.4 How to Enhance Backgrounds in Photoshop
For the last lesson of the course, we'll look at how to enhance and add texture to a studio background.
One of my favorite things to add to a plain studio background is a grungy concrete texture, but you can play with any type of background. Once you've chosen your image, we'll place the texture and set the layer mode to soft light and adjust the saturation level using the hue saturation.
When you're happy with the saturation, we'll duplicate the texture and change the layer mode to overlay to intensify the texture. Then, we'll group the two layers together and mask out the subject using a soft round brush or the Select Subject tool. And that's all you need to easily enhance a studio background!
4. Let's Wrap It Up!
I hope you enjoyed this photo retouching course. To wrap it up, here's a recap of what we learned. Thanks for watching!
Photoshop Retouching Course Recap:
Frequency Separation separates an image into a high frequency layer containing details and a low frequency layer containing values and color. This technique is ideal for larger blemishes and for evening out skin tone.
Dodge and Burn
Dodge and Burn is a technique that lights overly dark areas and shadows overly light areas, creating a perfectly smooth transition of values. So this is ideal for smoothing out skin.
Less Is More
Always remember to go light on skin retouching, as going too far will suck the life out of a face. Less is more when doing skin retouching.
Hair and Makeup Cleanup
To remove hair strands, your best tool is the Spot Healing tool. And if you want to knock out outer frizz, go with the Clone Stamp tool. These two tools also work wonderfully for cleaning up makeup and facial hair.
Dodge and Burn isn't only for the skin, as it can also be used to add shine to hair.
If you want to quickly enhance a studio background, try adding a texture background using a mix of layers set to overlay and soft light.
Learn More About Adobe Photoshop
If you want to learn more about Photoshop, from beginner to expert level, here are some great videos from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel you'll love:
Or if you prefer written tutorials, here are a few from our huge library of free Photoshop tutorials to get started with:
- Adobe Photoshop for BeginnersDaniel Walter Scott21 Oct 2022
- How to Make Teeth Whiter in PhotoshopJamie Evan03 Jun 2022
- How to Remove Shadows in PhotoshopMarko Kožokar13 Jun 2022
- How to Fix Red Eye in PhotoshopAbbey Esparza17 Jan 2022
- How to Fix a Moiré Pattern in PhotoshopMarko Kožokar15 Jul 2022
- How to Remove a Person From a Photo in Photoshop Using Content Aware FillAbbey Esparza15 Nov 2021
- How to Change Eye Color in PhotoshopMonika Zagrobelna06 Aug 2021
- How to Sharpen an Image in PhotoshopMonika Zagrobelna28 May 2021